March 29 2010
Few people in British menswear have a retail pedigree as robust as the owners of Present. Eddie Prendergast and Steve Davies established their reputations with the renowned Duffer of Saint George. Now they’ve turned their talents to this gallery-like store in London’s Shoreditch.
The original “Golden Horn Cigarette Company” frontispiece outside this contemporary, industrial-looking space gives some indication of the kind of fashion fusion inside. There is a strong focus on authentic heritage clothing but everything has been updated through a series of design collaborations, making it modern, urban and right on trend. For example, traditional Trickers brogue ankle boots are fused with a sporty Vibram sole and rendered in unexpected purple, green, navy and orange shades (£305). The store’s eponymous classic Scottish knitwear comes in eye-popping purple, sky blue and green combos with contrasting elbow patches and hems (from £105). “We play around with the boundaries of what is acceptable in fashion for men,” says Prendergast. What sets them apart is that they know exactly how far to push and when to stop. Nothing is tricksy.
These are the kind of clothes a creative director could wear to his studio and a banker could easily pull off at weekends. And Present is perfectly located to service both. For more understated customers there are canvas-and-leather computer cases by Scandinavian brand Mismo (£180), and for the more adventurous there are canvas shoppers by Want Les Essentiels de la Vie (£120), in pink, yellow and green.
There are traditional quilted coats by Lavenham (£120 to £250) in navy, khaki, aqua or grey nylon with bright contrasting corduroy collars and covered seams. Pair these with a Sackville & Jones cord cap in lime green, citrus orange or caramel (£60) and you’ll look as at home on a farm as in Hoxton. New to Present’s collection for summer is the classic button-down cotton Oxford shirt (from £135) in a range of plains as well as soft candy stripes, manufactured by Gitman Brothers, who have created shirts for Thom Browne.
Even the jeans are selected with exacting rigour. “We’re purists,” says Davies. “We only stock brands that use selvedge denim and aren’t into tricky washes and strange cuts.” Expect old-school styles from Studio D’Artisan and Real McCoy, plus Davies’s own brand, Lost Souls. Meanwhile, Der Sammler Solo sources vintage fabrics and reproduces the designs they were first used for. So an original Brooks Brothers shirt is brought back to life (£175) – this time with sneakers to match (£125).
But, says Davies, “It’s Nigel Cabourn who captures the essence of what Present is all about.” His softly tailored, striped canvas jackets (from £380) and shirts (from £190) are an effortless way of dressing for men who want to nod to the catwalk without sitting down to watch a whole show.