Men who shy away from conspicuous pattern and colour will be pleased to hear that some of the strongest looks this spring focus on texture – largely in a neutral palette and involving tactile contrasts – making for a low-key cool aesthetic.
“A shift in texture can take traditional designs to a new level, without involving a dramatic style change,” says Mats Klingberg, founder and managing director of Trunk Clothiers. The boutique stocks sophisticated international brands, and standouts this season include the Gigi Ziggy navy double-breasted jacket (£480) in lightweight cotton crepe, which sits somewhere between a cardigan and a blazer; the Angie version (£505) in a heavier yarn that’s almost like upholstery fabric; the Massimo Alba Norton suit (£875) in gorgeous slubby grey linen that drapes luxuriously; and the Camoshita cardigan (£345) in a cream cotton that has a towel-like quality. Also of note is the O Ballou knitted jacket (£445) in a Florentine navy cotton, which references fishing nets used on the Italian island of Favignana. Team any of these pieces with Oxford or seersucker shirts, or open-weave piqués in neutral tones for a sharp look.
On Savile Row, tailor Kilgour has a similar texture-driven focus. This season, under the creative direction of Carlo Brandelli (the returning designer who originally helmed its transformation into a slick, international brand), it teams peak-lapel jackets (£1,100) with perforated jersey V-necks (£495), or basket-weave wool/silk blazers (£995) with fine-knit scarves (£235). I also love the jackets in needlepoint cord (£780) and cord/silk mix (£795), which Brandelli suggests styling with a silk T-shirt (£175), either V- or crewneck: “At 8oz the jackets are comfortable for summer. The matt cord sets the mood, but underneath there’s a shimmer.” The impact is in the contrast of texture. The same can be said for an exceptionally elegant silk-jacquard jacket (£1,100) in inky blue/black teamed with a plain cotton top, and velvet jackets (£2,300) with a beautiful sheen paired with matt lightweight-silk rollnecks (£650). This is “not a look that shouts,” says Brandelli.
Other tailors thinking along the same lines include Thom Sweeney; its spring ready-to-wear collection is texture nirvana. Cases in point are the two-piece linen/wool/silk suit (£1,575) with a weave grain, and a mottled wool/silk woven coat (£1,675) that uses mélange fabrics. “In recent years there has been an increased appreciation for the subtleties of texture,” says Thom Whiddet, one half of the design duo. “Open weaves like frescoes or hopsacks are now taking centre stage as they’re more springy, so creaseless. Weaves like a wool fresco, or natural imperfections – like a slub in linen – give depth and richness to a look.” The brand’s waffle-knit waistcoat (£385) and grainy button-down shirts (£180) give a nod to the trend.
Creative director of Gieves & Hawkes Jason Basmajian describes his own brand’s take: “We worked with piqué and herringbone weaves for knits, as well as seersucker and linen – all in a neutral palette.” Particularly winning combinations include a light‑blue wool/silk/linen suit (£1,895) with a cashmere/wool/silk polo (£250); and a steel-blue pure Solbiati-linen suit (jacket, £595, trousers, £195) with a cable crewneck jumper (£195) and striped round-neck shirt (£125).
The textural mixes come into their own in high-summer outfits. Boglioli’s collection is inspired by glamorous 1960/70s holiday-making on the Med. A double-breasted silk jacquard Dover jacket (£960) teamed with a terry‑towelling top (£160) and navy wool trousers (£240) is a brilliant three‑way textural play in nautical neutrals. Also stylish is the aqua/white cashmere-jacquard Dover jacket (£1,050) worn with a cream silk tuxedo shirt (£325) and ivory shantung trousers (£270); and a cotton/linen horizontal-stripe jacket (£756) and linen stripe pants (£247) – a crisply cool choice for high-summer events. Hardy Amies’ short blazers (from £495) or sports jackets, such as the pale-blue cotton blend (£495), worn with white denim trousers (£195) and a cotton-mesh crewneck top (£170), have a similar Riviera feel. Other pieces of note include a navy wool micro-check double-breasted jacket (£575) and matching trousers (£215).
More smart-casual textural play comes into its own in Ede & Ravenscroft’s classic double-breasted gunmetal-grey blazer (£450) in open hopsack or Massimo Piombo’s navy light mohair trousers (£192), which look especially good worn with a double-breasted cream French-linen jacket (£930) and piqué shirt (£110). Equally strong are Ralph Lauren Purple Label’s mix of tones and texture: team an intense-tan textured silk/wool Kent sports jacket (£3,095) with cream wool‑gabardine trousers (£435), cream shirt (£245) and brown linen tie (£145).
Lastly, there’s Giorgio Armani, who has long favoured texture over strong colour and pattern. This season his Emporio line has a wonderful silver jacket in rough-cut, cotton viscose with raffia effect (£685) while at Giorgio there’s a jacket (£1,300) with patch pockets in stretch cotton, which has a meshy, almost bark-like feel. More understated is a mottled wool-blend jacket (£1,520), the rich texture of which really comes into its own when paired with silk trousers.
For the subtle-style enthusiast, a sophisticated mix of contrasting textures is spring’s secret superpower.
For more textured tailoring, read about Nicole Farhi’s new neutrals for men