The Style Column

Print Trousers

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A very good place to try out the latest trends is the ginormous, shiny and bustling Westfield shopping centre in west London.

Here, among the dozens of stalls selling frozen yoghurt (I just don’t get it) and kiosks that can take a photograph of you and turn it into a hologram keyring (guess what my nearest and dearest got for Christmas? Yes! 3D Jeremys), you can road test almost anything.

This is the reason Westfield, where my offices are, has over the last 12 months attracted personal appearances from everyone from superstars like Justin Bieber (absolutely charming) to Cher Lloyd off The X Factor (didn’t bother popping out for that one).

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So it was in the interest of gauging public opinion that I nipped across the mall to Boots this week (does Regaine work?) in a pair of navy print trousers from Gucci. Print trousers are a popular trend for both winter 2012, and will be for summer 2013, so I wondered if they had been embraced by the male populace — or if people thought they were still too much of a statement.

I teamed mine subtly with a mushroom-coloured cashmere polo neck from Canali and a pair of black John Lobb loafers. In the course of my trip, I probably noticed five or six people do a double take; I think it was more a second glance out of interest rather than disdain — and I suspect the fact I wasn’t wearing socks might have been the biggest draw.

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However, I didn’t feel uncomfortable or too fashion-victimy. In fact, quite the opposite: in retrospect, I looked as if I had started putting on a rather conventional outfit, but then got distracted and left the house still in my pyjama bottoms.

Fortunately, there are quite a few people in their real pyjamas in Westfield and so I blended in. Admittedly, most of the other pyjama-wearers around here are either in pushchairs or wheelchairs, but let’s not be nitpicky.

Fashion-forward ensembles, and that includes my print trousers , seem to be a lot more acceptable today. It’s decades since men have been as open to a bit of experimentation or dandyism.

Our capital is home to a swath of young designers who see little reason why men shouldn’t be plastered in pattern, fur, leather, colour or practically nothing (sometimes all at the same time); and then at the other end of the scale is the traditional Savile Row offering of expertly tailored, shape-shifting suits.

A trip along Savile Row today succinctly reflects the breadth of men’s fashion in 2013: at number one, Gieves & Hawkes, with its royal warrants and military history; on the other side of the road, Abercrombie & Fitch, all logos and Fierce cologne; cross back over and you have the spectacular Alexander McQueen store housing the brand’s mix of edge and elegance.

On the other side, Ben Sherman, the high-street label with its posh tailoring outlet; a few doors down and there’s the Lanvin store, all satins and seams, and reach the end and you come to The City-friendly irreverence of Richard James. The menswear industry encapsulated in one small, rather polite, and relatively unassuming street.

I now want you to do some style experimentation of your own. In a Derren Brown sort of way — look into my eyes, look into my eyes — I want you to imagine adopting two key summer trends that you may, before now, have dismissed with a wave of your hand after pulling a face not too dissimilar to Maggie Smith’s throughout most of the Downton Abbey Christmas special. They both involve suits, and so at least have some base in tradition. But there’s a twist. One is the brightly coloured suit — think full-on brick red (Paul Smith), pea green (Gucci) or peacock blue (Richard James).

And the other is the shorts suit. The latter is, I know, particularly controversial, but the world’s designers just don’t want to let this idea go — everyone from Maison Kitsuné (plaid), Junya Watanabe (double-breasted) to Wooyoungmi (stripes) and Raf Simons (little slits in the shorts) came up with their own distinct version for this summer.

There is, of course, much to consider before braving this option: state of legs, climate, destination, partner’s feelings… and so we will return to the subject shortly (excuse the pun) and I look forward to you embracing the idea with an open mind, if not an open wallet. Yet.

Jeremy Langmead is the editor-in-chief of mrporter.com

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