Agi & Sam’s collection for Topman: presenting “The Owls”

Posted on 11th May, by Colin Chapman in Collection review, menswear, On the Radar. No Comments

Designers Agi & Sam whose collections have generated huge excitement during the last two London menswear weeks, are about to release a 20 piece collection for Topman.  The collection takes the idea of a kit for an imaginary football team: “The Owls” as a starting point, but goes beyond sportswear to includes shirting and tailoring in a mix of strong, blocked colours and the designers’ signature all over digital prints. Whilst I personally, may be entirely immune to the charms of football, I am very excited about design talent like Agi & Sam and what they say about London’s buoyant menswear scene.

I like to think that there are many out there who’ve now picked up on the buzz about the new wave of British menswear designers in London. But, despite ever more visible catwalk images and menswear-focused editorial, its often not so easy to experience this originality at first hand. Collaborations like this one makes innovative fashion design less remote, and whilst I suspect that many pieces will be bought up by existing Agi & Sam fans eager to get their hands on affordable examples of their work, I do hope it also brings it to the attention of a wider audience, generating interest in something genuinely new.

The Topman collaboration demonstrates the pair’s growing confidence and maturity as designers, as evidenced in their recent mainline collections and especially in the evolution of their use of print. The last Agi & Sam show in January, featured models such as Great British Sewing Bee pin-up and designer Patrick Grant, rouged-up like a Gainsborough portrait subject come to life, and the collection was infused with a sense of English eccentricity and featured prints one might discover within some of the National Trust’s more fabulous country piles (think chinoiserie hunting scenes). Here, the prints are all inspired by the gestation and lives of owls themselves, featuring beautiful hand watercolours of the birds, with details based on egg shells and feathers. Not really one for footie kit, I’m more enamored of the owl print shirt and love the delicacy of the egg-shell print suiting. Having envisioned their dream football kit, Agi & Sam imagined the perfect young man to wear it, settling on a young and handsome George Best, an inspiration somewhat evident in the model casting. Whilst the young man in question may lack something of the hirsute swagger of the young Best, he epitomises how relevant this collection might be to today’s Topman customer.

Topman has a long tradition of supporting young design talent (Omar Kashoura, Lou Dalton and James Long are just some of the designers to have benefited from recent collaborations). And in the wake of the depressing spectacle of David Gandy (apparently London’s menswear ambassador) taking part in Alan Carr’s mickey-taking of design talent like Sibling and Craig Green on his Chatty Man TV show last night, its great to see two of London’s most charming young menswear designers get a taste of mainstream success.

Agi & Sam’s collection for Topman, “The Owls”, will now launch on 4 June, a postponement from the original date of 16 May.

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