Since 2012, the year London Collections: Men launched, the city has been flexing its menswear muscle, and Soho in particular has reaped the rewards. The area around Berwick Street – formerly an eclectic jumble of stores, from textile wholesalers to sex shops – has cultivated something of a reputation for up-and-coming, hip-but-wearable independent menswear brands, and one of the low-key leaders of the charge is Percival. The clothing label launched in 2010 with a string of pop-ups, and the shop opened two years later – followed in the neighbourhood by the likes of Universal Works, Our Legacy and APC.
Now Percival’s collections are sold almost exclusively (save a cool menswear boutique in The Netherlands) through its own store and website. The label’s no-nonsense, smart-casual, midcentury-in-feel classics are a boon for the dress-down creative crowd who work locally – advertising execs, film and media types, architects and actors (Bill Nighy, Stephen Fry and Martin Freeman are all clients) – while a City and business clientele snap up pieces for weekend wear. This is clothing for men who usually look at an item and wish they could just take off any extraneous detail, be it flaps, logos, zips or epaulettes.
Pillars of each collection are the outerwear staples, such as the single-breasted, slim-fit, melton-wool pea coat (£290), the Italian-wool bomber (£300) with suede sleeves and sheepskin collar, and the waxed mac (£275), which has the look of a Barbour, but stripped right back. Subtle variants of these – in colour or lining – appear each season, alongside shirts (example second picture, £125) in Percival-print Japanese brushed cottons with coconut buttons; Italian-wool slim-fit trousers (£95) with a touch of elastine for a slight stretch and horn buttons on the side pockets (particularly strong this season are those in plum, navy and grey); and T-shirts (£45) with small screen-printed logos in a collection of styles, from 1950s workwear inspired to letterpress influenced. A smattering of accessories by other brands complement the clothes, including hair pomade (£15) by Daimon Barber, slingshots (£75), and Bedouin bags (£195-£395) for cyclists.
“The collections are designed and constructed to last from season to season,” says Olivia Hegarty, one of the creative trio behind the label, “and are just the right side of adventurous.”
While Hegarty has also designed for the menswear divisions of labels including Hussein Chalayan and Meadham Kirchhoff, the graphic design clout (in evidence in the house prints) comes from co-founders Chris Gove, whose background is in print media and who has worked for titles including GQ Style, and Luke Stenzhorn, whose digital expertise has been called upon by brands including Burberry. Jacob Sorkin is finance director.
The quartet (first picture, without Gove) gathers beneath the store to work on designs, and the workshop ambience filters up to the shop, with its industrial lights, ladder shelves and whitewashed walls. Most memorable among the decor is the concrete Persian rug set into the reclaimed wood floor, made by maverick artist Alex Chinneck from bits of broken pavement, which move underfoot. It has a cool nonchalance that sums up Percival rather well.