Journalist and HandCut Radio host, Aleks Cvetkovic, takes some of our new arrivals for a spin.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, shall we? If you’re into your clothes, you’ve probably seen my hamster-cheeked mush pop-up on the Clutch Cafe website and thought, “wait, isn’t he the tailoring guy?” Well, more fool you, my man.
Sure, I’ve always been fascinated by the process and craft of tailoring, but I’m also a firm believer in the power of clothes to be fun, multifaceted and to convey different qualities in a person’s character. Clothes are, above all, a means of personal expression – and human personalities don’t fit into neat boxes. So, guess what, I’m also into workwear, Americana, and into Japanese brands more generally. It’s no great secret that the quality and robustness of Japanese menswear is second to none. Many Japanese designers and craftspeople obsess over how their clothes are made – from the proportions of their patterns, to the yarn count of their fabrics – and I love the combined sense of precision and nostalgia that many Japanese indie brands aspire to.
So, in this series, I’m going to work with Clutch’s brilliant team to curate a range of different looks with the store’s new arrivals, partially to experiment (because no man should be afraid to try new things in his wardrobe, even if they’re not perfect) and partially to demonstrate Clutch’s unique eye within the London menswear scene.
... In this series, I’m going to work with Clutch’s brilliant team to curate a range of different looks with the store’s new arrivals
First up, a few things I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Clutch dropped some pieces from Californian brand Mister Freedom a couple of weeks ago, including a raw vat-dyed chambray Western shirt with arcuate front and back yokes, diamond elbow patches and contrast stitching. In powder blue this shirt is a stunner – and like all raw cloths it’ll only improve with age. We dressed it with pleated, tapered Soundman 294M-902P Clarke Chinos, but I’d also wear this shirt under a dark flannel or corduroy suit in winter. Western shirts often work really well to soften up a tailored look.
Over the top, a heavy wool blanket vest from another ‘Americana’ favourite, Jelado, is a practical addition on an overcast day. Inspired by a 1940s central-American Chimayo waistcoat, finished with braided buttons, this vest oozes character. The look is finished with white socks, my own Cordovan loafers from Crockett & Jones, a merino knitted Mechanic’s Hat from Heimat. As far as casual outfits go it’s a utilitarian combination, but (I hope you’ll agree) it has some personality too.
The Soundman jacket in particular was a revelation to play with.
The second look I really loved – I’d have snapped up the whole lot, if I could. I’m a huge fan of 1950s-inspired rayon ‘sport shirts’ (long sleeved in winter, short in summer), and when Fullcount’s trio of Classic Rayon Shirts arrived at Clutch a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try one. The jade green colour is great, but this pale pastel pink number is a show-stealer for summer. I always think that distinctive shirts don’t need much else to really sing, so a pair of white 770-00 jeans from Burgus Plus, and another new arrival from Soundman, the 493M-007P Delaware Jacket, set off Fullcount’s shirt a treat.
The Soundman jacket in particular was a revelation to play with. The brand is new to me, so this was the first time I could get my hands on it. The pattern is inspired by vintage US Army M1943 uniform jackets, but its construction is featherweight – cut with two side slip pockets, and a pair of buttoning bellows pockets on the chest. The cloth a superfine Japanese linen that feels almost like a sateen it’s so fine to the touch, and the tonal camouflage print is really easy to wear. More precisely, it’s a ‘brushstroke’ camouflage, which as the name suggests has a softer, brush-stroke like quality to the print. It’s an ideal summer jacket, this thing – lightweight, versatile and tangibly well-made.
This element of discovery is what makes Clutch so special; the Cafe is a place to come and lose yourself for half-an-hour, stumbling across pieces you’d never have thought to try before your visit. The team at Clutch take great pride in sourcing hard-to-find brands with a multiplicity of different influences and aesthetics at play, all bound together through a like-minded appreciation of quality. If these two outfits demonstrate anything, I hope it’s that clothes should be a joy to wear – and that doesn’t always involve staying in your comfort zone.