The gap between smart and casual is becoming more and more like a void. On one end: tailored suits and shirts, which come with a fairly hefty price-tag. On the other, a universe of overpriced polyester sneakers and ironic DHL-themed streetwear, which makes the early Noughties look like a scene from The Great Gatsby. Trying to tie it all together tastefully is the creative genius Oliver Spencer. A household name in British menswear, his flagship Oliver Spencer brand is now available on The Rake, with select pieces that give a glimpse into his skill at straddling the line between smart and casual. Everything Oliver does is grounded in the philosophy that quality needn’t mean formality, and casual needn’t mean careless - something a lot of today’s designers readily overlook. In the latest collection, we see a continuation of this philosophy, with more mature (and perhaps slightly Western) undertones reflecting lazy Autumn days in the office, or a Sunday stroll in a leaf-strewn park. And yes, all of it looks good with white sneakers (apologies to any offended tassel loafers who might be reading). The fact is, we all need a little relaxation in our wardrobes, and Oliver Spencer is just the man to show us how.
Beginning as a market-stall trader at London’s Portobello market, Oliver left art school with a mission to strike out alone. Initially selling records, he began working with high-quality fabrics and garments, and taught himself how to become a tailor. His success and skill as a shop-keeper led to the opening of Favourbrook on Jermyn Street (available on The Rake, and quite certainly on the smart end of our void) where he mastered the art of formalwear. The relaxed shapes and youthful designs redefined formalwear as something which could be worn by anyone (Cotswolds manor house, or no). After a decade of expanding Favourbrook, Oliver Spencer the brand was established in 2002. Things to remember: this is a time when frosted-tips and bootcut jeans were on-trend, and Oliver’s expertise with formalwear influenced the way he set about dressing up casual garments. A lot of the sleek, workwear-oriented shapes worn in today’s trendiest cities owe something to Oliver Spencer. And so, after nearly two decades of innovating, here we are: Oliver Spencer AW19 - as fresh as ever.