Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Get Your Lad Rags on; Farewell, Hipsters -- Fashion Is in the Grip of a Luxe Sportswear Obsession and Men Have Rediscovered Razors. Richard Godwin Raises a Stella to the New Lad

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Get Your Lad Rags on; Farewell, Hipsters -- Fashion Is in the Grip of a Luxe Sportswear Obsession and Men Have Rediscovered Razors. Richard Godwin Raises a Stella to the New Lad

Article excerpt

Byline: Richard Godwin

LET me take you back, children, to the heady days of 1996. The England football team lost their Euro '96 semifinal in a strip that was specifically designed to look good with jeans. The Chemical Brothers and Noel Gallagher scored the most psychotic number one in living memory with Setting Sun. It was the year of Trainspotting, Daniella Westbrook, Loaded, Kappa, Firestarter, Knebworth, jumpers for goalposts, Hooper's Hooch, Kevin Keegan's rant, which Spice Girl do you fancy, Benson & Hedges, Robson & Jerome, Championship Manager and TFI Friday. It was a good time to be a lad.

And now, if the soothsayers of the fashion world are correct, those days are upon us once more. After years of being derided as a misogynist, a boor, an unreconstructed banter-jockey, it seems the lad is putting his Classics on and having a little dance.

With fashion in the grip of a Nineties fetish it seems that even this muchmaligned male archetype is ready for revival. The fact that Chris Evans is back must be some sort of sign.

The style editorials began to appear last year, announcing the arrival of something called the "Nu-Lad", "Luxe-Lad" or (slightly less awfully) "New Casual" -- figures who signalled a new direction for menswear in the posthipster era, namely "streetwear with a high-fashion twist".

Designers such as Christopher Shannon, Y-3 and Mazhar Nasir have produced collections involving zip-up leisurewear, gelled-down fringes and conspicuous branding. Adidas recently collaborated with the skate brand Palace on a top that looks suspiciously like something a Moss Side scally would have worn as he mugged you 20 years ago.

There have been spottings of Stone Island (the favoured brand of football hooligans) in Dalston, while Admiral (the unfashionably fashionable sportswear brand that used to make England football kits) is now available exclusively at, erm, Sainsbury's.

If the hipster era was about obscure indie bands, craft IPA, Grenson brogues, backwoods beards and an ambivalent attitude to consumerism, the nu-lad era is more non-league football, commercial lager, box-fresh Adidas, clean-shaven chins and conspicuous labels. If you've noticed yourself wearing grey marl sweatshirts and white trainers a bit more than you did a couple of years, you may have been influenced by the trend without even realising it.

The clearest high-fashion portent came in Henry Holland's inaugural menswear collection this summer. The London-born designer collaborated with the photographer Martin Parr, who became famous for his shots of workingclass holidays in the Nineties, and claimed inspiration from the ravers and terrace casuals he remembered from his teenage years.

"I used to wear Man United football kits and pretend I supported them," Holland explained, adding that he had switched the studio soundtrack to the Stone Roses, Chemical Brothers and the Charlatans for inspiration: "The ultimate lads". His models walked down the catwalk in neon-shaded leisurewear with "LAD", "LEGEND" and "LOVER" emblazoned on their chests like sponsors on a football shirt. A leather tote bag came with the Nineties sentiment "I JUST WANT TO ENJOY MYSELF".

It was reminiscent of the sort of mockheroic hijinks that Loaded magazine celebrated when it launched in 1994. It too had the word "LADS" in large type on the cover (though none of the titillation that would later define it; the lead interviews were with Eric Cantona, Paul Weller and Gary Oldman).

"Loaded is a new magazine dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of sex, drink, football and less serious matters," wrote James Brown in his first editor's letter, essentially defining the parameters of lad culture. "Loaded is for the man who believes he can do anything, if only he wasn't hungover."

At the time that all felt quite fresh and subversive -- back when rave culture was still working its way through the British system and Oasis's improbable self-belief came over as inspiring rather than bludgeoning. …

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