Call it a rugby shirt on the pitch or a polo shirt off the pitch, whatever your preference of said shirt, or something between the two, is headed for a comeback in your Autumn/Winter 2019 wardrobe. Just ask one of London’s newest and most interesting labels, Symonds Pearmain, who made its debut outside of Fashion East this season, and add to that Wales Bonner and Riccardo Tisci at Burberry and enough said.
Burberry Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photo: Courtesy of PR.
What originated in polo shirt speak as a short-sleeved knitted shirt with a turn-down collar that stayed in place during a game, and moved onto becoming associated with leisurewear during the Thirties, and what in rugby shirt speak is known as being a casualwear riff on the striped varieties worn at matches, has emerged as London Fashion Week’s biggest surprise yet.
Perhaps it’s because it’s a timely but not too severe move on from sportswear, a little bit more sophisticated, on the smart-casual side of things, yet still with that active sentiment, that it’s coming back into style. In the wake of Hedi Slimane’s return to real clothes, the rugby shirt or the polo shirt has a little more meaning than a T-shirt right now; it has a little more fit, a little more nuance and certainly one that feels refreshing aesthetically.
Left: WALES BONNER Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION. Right: Symonds Pearmain Fall/Winter 2019 show in London. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
At Symonds Pearmain, which was an excellently polished and executed collection of natty silhouettes and safari-botanical prints, they came smattered in bows; at Wales Bonner, the designer played with stripes to bring a slick dose of nostalgia; and at Burberry they were more mash-up-style, chopped up and spliced together. The first look was an upside-down polo shirt worn as a skirt. Arguably, the more successful iterations are those that don’t look all that dissimilar to their original counterparts. Yet there’s no mistaking that this is the shirt of the season, be it in a shirt or dress guise.