October 07 2011
Lucia van der Post
Since the androgynous look (along with ladylike and retro) is so much a part of what fashion is currently all about, Irwin & Jordan, a little fashion brand launched in 2007 that is becoming increasingly sought after, is bang in tune with the mood of the moment. It was started by Zoe Jordan (of the Formula One family), who had a particular vision in mind.
“I grew up around racing and racing drivers and I was always pretty boyish,” she says, “so when I started Irwin & Jordan [the Irwin is there simply because it sounded suitably established and English], I wanted to include that boyish element, but I also wanted to add feminine touches, making it more appealing to women.”
She used to work in banking, as a trader, sitting there every day alongside all the traditional male fabrics – the camel-hair coats, the pinstripes, the herringbones. So when she started her own brand, she decided to use only classic British fabrics for the tailored pieces, mostly of the sort associated with men’s clothing, and all sourced from British mills.
She came up with three different takes on the banker’s coat: the Jasper, which is the most feminine and comes in classic grey wool (centre in picture, £635), the Buster in fine white wool (£745), and the Beagle in fine oatmeal twill (£490). For this autumn the Jasper coat comes in navy and white pinstriped wool (£635), which looks particularly good teamed with her navy-blue trouser suit (£530 for the jacket, £270 for the trousers) made from Savile Row men’s suiting material. They look wonderful, in a Jules et Jim sort of way, on very feminine women. Perhaps more mainstream, however, are her particularly cute jackets. The Amber jacket (right in picture, £595) is beautifully cut to give a nice curve to the waist, with slanted pockets and a sweet little pleat at the back. It comes in fine British fabrics – nicest, in my view, is the beige tweed, but it also comes in plain wool.
Jordan herself wears the clothes sublimely, softening the look with some of her lace pieces. She uses only very high quality British lace and turns it into dresses, both long- (left in picture, £625) and cap-sleeved (£375). The George lace T-shirt (£225), meanwhile, would feminise not just Irwin & Jordan’s boyish pieces but any other work suit.
Irwin & Jordan is becoming something of a cult label and has now been snapped up by Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Fenwick, Start London, and Isetan in Japan, where they’re especially fond of this quintessentially British take on fashion.