By Stephen Doig
it’s nice to know that David Beckham, despite the movie star good looks and style icon wife, is just as much an Embarrassing Dad in his children’s eyes as most men in their forties.
“I’ve been telling Brooklyn for a long time that actually, I used to dress in quite a cool way,” joked Beckham. “And he would just look at me as if to say ‘no, you didn’t dad’. That’s teenagers for you…”
Luckily Beckham Junior, alongside his mother, was on hand to show his old man how it’s done, wearing a full Peaky Blinders-style ensemble at the unveiling of Beckham’s second collection from heritage sporting outfitter Kent & Curwen, designed by Daniel Kearns with Beckham as business partner, muse and all-round sounding board.
“Brooklyn actually really likes the clothes that Daniel has created. He raids my wardrobe and I find all my clothes the next day, strewn across his bedroom floor.”
Fashion validation indeed, and an indicator of the cross-generational appeal of the brand’s offering, shown as part of London Fashion Week Men’s after its debut last year.
Heavy duty shearling-lined coats that Del Boy would feel right at home in, handsome trench coats, 1960s-style bomber jackets, chunky Fair Isle knits and military great coats featured, a sweeping variation of the latter in taupe modelled by Beckham himself.
Kearns and Beckham mined archive imagery and vintage markets as a starting point – the house was founded as a specialist in club ties before branching into cricket uniforms, with that 1930s regatta stripe incorporated into piping on jackets, and blazers in contrasting ribbons recalling the 1960s Mod movement.
“We looked in the archive books of tie fabrics, and you see notes written about orders for Eton, Henley, London gentlemen’s clubs from back in the day. The pattern also brings to mind the sort of thing Paul Weller would wear,” said Kearns. Eric Kent and the Duke of Windsor were hunting comrades, and the Prince’s knack for wearing his country attire in the heart of polished Mayfair also informed the rustic sweaters and Fair Isle pattern.
“We trawled through vintage stalls and markets and looked at old images of myself, images of Steve McQueen, James Dean, Paul McCartney in chunky sweaters, Mick Jagger from the 1960s, an image from the 1966 world cup with Alf Ramsay going onto the pitch in a zip up tracksuit top,” said Beckham.
That sporting element – Kent & Curwen trademarked the Three Lions emblem in 1982 – is clearly what convinced Beckham to come on board in such a substantial way. Rugby sweaters and cricket knits may have taken the place of the uniforms of the Beautiful Game, but there’s an echo of the terraces in the English rose emblem embroidered on sweaters and jackets.
And for all the historical references, the clothes are the kind that would look at home in any man’s wardrobe, rather than period drama costumery.
“I wanted to create something that I would wear, that my son would wear, something that’s authentic and has real substance to it,” said Beckham, who has put his clout behind British manufacturing and production – the coats and outerwear are crafted at a factory in London.
In the broader context of London Fashion Week Men’s where theatrics can occasionally dominate over the clothes, and for all the fervour around being in the orbit of Brand Beckham, this fledgling lifestyle brand is quietly creating clothes that men really want to wear. Even the most tricky to please teenagers.