Have you noticed there’s a worrying trend developing in men over a certain age? It starts off with a reluctance to accompany their girlfriends on clothing shopping trips, then quickly turns into a full blown phobia about buying new gear for themselves. Simply mention the fact that they might possibly need a new pair of jeans, or that their shirts could do with a bit of an update is enough to send them scurrying off down the pubs to their mates, or worse still, to the nearest Army Surplus store.
Thankfully, my partner has overcome his fear of shopping for menswear, and quite by accident. He stumbled across the new Ben Sherman concept store in Portobello Road and spent a good hour perusing, and yes readers, buying himself jackets, shirts and chinos, all without my help. And I have to say, he did rather well. Now before we start, don’t be put off by the word ‘concept’, it’s just a fancy way of saying a lifestyle choice, or tailored towards a certain member of the public.
Fans of Ben Sherman will already know that the brand is synonymous with the Mod movement of the late 50’s and 60’s and the new concept store in Portobello Road, coinciding with the revamp of Carnaby Street, features their traditional Ben Sherman brand, alongside the more edgy and premium style called Plectrum and Modern Classics.
The store itself at Portobello is fairly small, and as such, does not have a huge range of accessories, but if you are looking for wardrobe staples, you have plenty of choice. In the Modern Classics collection you’ll find quirky twists on old favourites, such as sweaters with leather patches on the elbows, Fair Isle jumpers with modern patterns, waxed jackets and heavyweight shirts in plains and checks.
For lovers of the Art Deco movement, check out the Plectrum brand, which is proving to be hugely popular, with T-shirts in graphic prints, classic cardigans and polo shirts in this season’s pastels (very Jude Law) and beautifully cut tailored blazers and jackets.
The eponymous Ben Sherman range has everything you would expect from this British label. Belted khaki parkas and military coats, classic Ben Sherman shirts in checks and stripes, and an eye wateringly gorgeous selection of essential jackets, from the noble Harrington Bombers, to the beloved Herringbone parkas and Donkey Jackets.
My partner visited the store on a Thursday morning, where there were two helpful staff in attendance, who were both knowledgeable and unobtrusive. They knew which cut and sizes would best fit him, and suggested items that he had not thought of, but not in an overly pressurised way. He liked the simplicity and the layout of the store and found it easy to find what he was looking for, and said that he could easily have spent £500+ if he had it.
He was particularly impressed with the design and comfort of the clothing and actually described the store as an ‘oasis in menswear’, stating that he ‘may never shop anywhere else again’.
So readers, if your man is suffering from the debilitating and embarrassing menswear shopping phobia, send him down to Ben Shermans at Portobello Road, where he’ll find a great alternative to the standard.
The store is located at 115 Portobello Road, London W1F 9QA and online at bensherman.com
All pictures courtesy Drapers Online/Ben Sherman