What does British fashion actually look like? This is a question I have considered for the entirety of my career. For well over a decade now, I've been trying to pinpoint what it is that makes British fashion unique and unlike anything else we see from the other fashion capitals and beyond. The answer? Well, it's just not that simple. The nuances of how Brits and those who reside here dress are complex. As a country hooked on heritage, there's no doubt that the influence of the past comes into play. Though, ours is diverse with inspirations so intertwined it can make it all the more challenging to trace back. That's not to say, however, that we're stuck in a bygone time. British designers and brands are some of the most groundbreaking in the world, continuously challenging the status quo and thinking anew; something that trickles into the everyday outfits we see in our small but mighty country.
You need only look at the ensembles you see on the streets of your hometown or the city where you currently reside to witness our own special breed of style dichotomy. In doing so, you'll see minimalist outfits, maximalist outfits, androgynous outfits, polished outfits and hard-to-define outfits. There are looks built on the high street, sourced second-hand or afforded by luxury, peppered with undertones of punk, Y2K, and Victoriana for good eclectic measure. It's this unpredictability and experimental flair that makes British style so fascinating and why I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at what the current fashion climate is across the country. Of course, I can only be in one place at any given time, so I sought the help of some well-positioned friends from all over the United Kingdom to give me a more accurate depiction of the fashion goings-on in the places they respectively live, be it Edinburgh, London, Belfast, or Brighton. In addition, they've shared their new-season wish lists exclusively with me. Even at a glance, I can see some interesting patterns emerge, which provide even further insight into the British aesthetic as it is now. Let's hand it over to them, shall we?
Photo:@kimturkington_/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"Having lived in London for a long time, I was interested to see how the aesthetic in Belfast, my hometown, differed. Perhaps it's because I also have a pared-back sense of style, but that's something I see here, too; a focus on basics like jeans but with current fits such as the slouchy silhouette."
Photo:@daniellejinadu/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"Bomber jackets and low-rise maxi or knee-length skirts are all the rage right now in London, and I think they will continue to be as we move into spring. I'm also looking forward to seeing a lot of beautiful floral motifs and embellishments on accessories set against stripped-back outfits, as so beautifully demonstrated by Magda Butrym, with its stunning corsage-inspired looks. This is a look I can see Londoners easily adopting."
Photo:@alexisforeman/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"Brighton has always been a colourful city, and although nothing will tear me away from my neutral palette, I am keen to wear a bit more colour this season, too. So who knows? Maybe I'll fit in more with my surroundings."
Photo:@modestmira/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"Typically the fashion [in Birmingham] is pretty bright and bold, but I've been seeing a lot more neutrals crop up on the streets and Instagram lately. Top-to-toe tonal outfits always look elegant—I love wearing them, too!—but I can't deny a pop of colour now and then to represent the city's boldness and fun."
"I consider oversized blazers a staple piece in my wardrobe; they've always been an item I reach for when I'm after a more tailored but relaxed aesthetic. I currently have my eye on Arket's Hopsack blazer in either black or beige. I'm leaning more towards neutral colours this spring with the odd pop of colour."
"A huge fan of denim in general, so I am definitely on board with the baggy-jeans trend. This MM6 Maison Margiela pair is a fun addition to my collection, as it has an asymmetrically panelled leg; something I haven't worn before. I think it is such a versatile piece and can add character to your outfit—the wash being perfect for spring, too."
"It's known that we love to carry a lot around with us—that's certainly the case in my experience, anyway. So I was glad to hear that jumbo bags are popping back up this spring. I have had my eye on this lovely Jigsaw bag for a while now, and I think it would make a perfect go-to style during the spring/summer season. Keeping in line with the neutral tones I'm leaning towards right now, it will work with practically everything I currently own."
"Already the It shoe this season, and I don't see that changing any time soon. Loafers are a classic footwear option to add to your collection—not to mention comfortable! Perfect for running errands around in. I already own a black pair but currently have this burgundy pair from Massimo Dutti on my wish list. I find burgundy is good colour to start with if you're still a little anxious about trying coloured footwear."
Photo:@louisahatt/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"Cargo clothing is a trend that remains very popular in Edinburgh right now. I've seen cargo pockets on skirts, jeans and trousers. I think it's popular because it's a practical and useful trend. I love pockets, so the more, the better."
Photo:@carolinestylehacks/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"Glasgow has a big going-out scene, so the fashion can be quite glamorous, which is fun! This year, however, it's great to see lots of people wearing more colour in the city. It doesn't need to be head-to-toe brights, but mixing in pops of colour and textures to add interest seems to be the thing right now."
Photo:@edaowofashion/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"Right now in Manchester, there's a bit of a clash in terms of colour palettes. Yes, there's still the darker hues of winter, but I'm seeing lots of lovely pastel tones cutting through them, too."
Photo:@lois_la_mode/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"The difference between Bristol and London style can vary, but there's definitely an appreciation for neutral colours and simple shapes across both. I spend a lot of time in the capital, too, and It brands like Prada and Celine seem more important than ever."
Photo:@sineadcrowe/WHO WHAT WEAR UK
"Stamford is a small town with lots of ultra-chic ladies and men. Though, I do find that we are a bunch of safe dressers when it comes to stepping outside of our comfort zones—that includes me! Generally lots of neutrals; think the clean-girl aesthetic. Occasionally, you'll see someone who is a bit more experimental, but I'd say overall, it's very much classic styling with key trend pieces worked in."