The polo’s earliest descendants were brought back from India by the British ruling class, but the garment as we know
it today was devised by a man who lived not by the mallet but by the racquet: René Lacoste, the French seven-time
Grand Slam tennis champion, who quite understandably felt that tennis attire - which included ties at the time -
impeded movement around the court. Fred Perry, along of course with Ralph Lauren, went on to ensure its enduring
potency as a wardrobe asset, and today the polo is a kind of stylistic master key that unlocks the smart-casual
conundrum and feels as suited to the pub as it does the promenades of the Riviera district after which Kraft’s
clothing line is named.
So what’s Kraft’s take on the form? His line has two unique aims: one is to make elegant, timeless clothing more
affordable by eliminating extraneous aspects of the production and distribution process; the other is to tweak the
DNA of classic wardrobe staples in accordance with Kraft’s style smarts, which have been honed and whetted over his
years as a pioneering sartorial virtuoso. Kraft cherry-picks and enhances the very best facets and features of the
clothing categories with which we’re all familiar, and eliminates or modifies those which are cumbersome, fiddly or
Hence, the Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo long-sleeved sartorial polo shirt - which comes in white, navy or light grey -
has a collar which has been cut like a subtly rounded cut-away spread collar on a dress shirt, and is placed much
higher than one would normally find on a polo shirt. This, and the inclusion of removable stays in the collar, both
make it look in situ beneath a jacket, whilst the single-button barrel sport cuff also has echoes of formal dress
shirts and enables the sleeves to be rolled up gracefully.
Other natty details include a dual layer of fabric on the button fly; an embroidered Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo on
the left hip (a spot where Jermyn Street’s finest are used to stitching a gentleman’s initials); and the hem gussets
having echoes of the Italian flag, a respectful nod to the country where the shirts are produced. Another of Kraft’s
prime aims is to find the all-too-often-elusive ‘Goldilocks Zone’ in terms of silhouette: which is why cut, here, is
slim but not tight, long and fitted.
Suffice to say, it’s a garment as well-suited to the swanky metropolitan hotspots as it is to the fields of Manipur
or the well-kempt lawns of SW19. “This polo shirt will immediately upgrade any casual outfit and can be worn in
countless combinations - with a suit for a semi-formal attire, with white trousers and a sport jacket for a casually
chic outfit perfectly suited for a drink at the pub, or with chinos, jeans or shorts for a truly casual yet classy
look,” Kraft says.
The line’s new cashmere summer sweaters in navy, white and grey, meanwhile, have been introduced with a very specific
purpose: this is the piece you reach out in those early morning or early evening moments, during the warmer months
of the year, when the temperature is lower than the day’s average. Also produced in Italy - in a family-owned
workshop devoted to garments of its ilk - this medium-light garment, whose fabric is as tactile as it is tasteful,
is another which packs the Goldilocks principle in spades: its medium weave is neither too chunky nor too smooth,
whilst the silhouette is fitted in a way that’ll feel natural beneath a jacket.
Ostensibly a surprise addition to Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo (Kraft is firmly of the belief that sportswear should
be worn exclusively when taking part in sport), the embroidered sartorial sweatpants in white cotton or navy cotton
fleece are the result of Kraft’s recent musings on clients’ shifting relationships with their wardrobes during
lockdown. Style-conscious folk, he has concluded, now often wish to dress in a ultra-comfortable and practical way,
but crave leisure wear which doesn’t come at the expense of class and elegance.
Made in Italy of pure, machine washable cotton fleece, the embroidered sweatpants are a keynote piece in his new
“Casual Elegance” sportswear line. Fastened with a drawstring with no elastic hems, they eschew the amorphous
slovenliness of conventional sweatpants in favour of a straight, medium-slim cut. On one of the two deep front
pockets, Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo’s increasingly recognisable, regal logo has been embroidered.
Made in Italy from the same 100 per cent, super-soft cotton fleece is the final new addition to Alexander Kraft Monte
Carlo, a piece which pairs perfectly with the sweatpants: the deconstructed tennis blazer in navy cotton fleece or
ecru cotton. Packing all the sophistication of Kraft’s tailored chalk stripe suits and tweed jackets, but with a
feel to the wearer that’s more akin to sweatpants for the torso and arms, the jacket is inspired by the tennis
clobber worn between the wars by the likes of Fred Perry and Gottfried von Cramm. Completely deconstructed, its cut
has been devised so that a refined silhouette prevails despite the lack of linings or other internal trappings.
The logo, here, graces the breast pocket, whilst other neat flourishes include working button holes and an under
collar strip of felt that matches the colour of the embroidery. “It can be dressed up with cream trousers and a
dress shirt for a smart Riviera look, or dressed down with jeans, chinos or the sartorial sweatpants for a
completely casual look with a dash of elegance,” says Kraft.
Versatility, indeed, underpins all the new additions to Alexander Kraft Monte Carlo: that, and a healthily
gender-blind approach to comfy, casual and cool apparel for Summer.