February 28 2011
Lucia van der Post
Toast is a brand that makes relaxed clothing and simple, old-fashioned homewares with rather charming rural overtones. Though its clothes are much loved by women, I think the new men’s line (the first collection was last autumn but the new spring/summer one is available on March 10) is something that many men will fall upon with cries of welcome. What all the men in my life find difficult to track down is relaxed clothing for weekends, downtime and holidays that isn’t either too “designery” or too boring. This is precisely where Toast’s new men’s range comes in.
Jamie Seaton, who, with his wife Jessica, is behind the brand, has designed the range himself. “I wanted clothes,” he told me, “that fell between the designer end of things – too camp, too loud or just too expensive – and the prosaic opposite, so straightforward and industrially produced as to be almost invisible.” He also wanted them to be ageless, to appeal to the 20-year-old and the grandfather. Furthermore, he wanted them to have “historical or cultural resonance”, with echoes of things that he likes such as military uniforms and workwear from the European late-19th and early-20th century.
He wanted, too, to use good fabrics but to keep prices reasonable. What he’s come up with is exactly the sort of gear that I think fills a real gap. Best piece of all is the brilliant blue (or off-white) easy jacket, single-breasted, three pockets, four buttons (£245) which has just the right kind of relaxed air. Similarly appealing is a double-breasted jacket (pictured, £225, with linen gingham shirt, £99). There’s also a good khaki or grey shirt jacket for £145, as well as lots of loose linen shirts (£99), matelot striped sweaters (£95) and brilliant blue flannel trousers (£155).