History of Paisley
“The most widely accepted theory is that the pattern (then known as “Boteh”) as a whole is a stylized floral or botanical motif mixed with the outline of a cypress tree — commonplace in the Middle East, and widely recognized as a symbol of life and eternity. The Boteh was used not only in textiles, but also in jewelry, art, landscaping, and architecture. Its prevalence spread across the Middle East to other southern and central Asian nations, further muddling its own exact origins. It wasn’t until around the 1600s when British traders and spice merchants hailing from the East India Company brought the Boteh back to their own native countries, where it enjoyed very popular Western demand (due in part to beliefs that the pattern was an Asian charm used to ward off demons) — so much so, that traders were often unable to import enough to meet demand. It was that outpaced demand that prompted first French, then Scottish weavers to copy the pattern and produce the fabric on their own native looms. In the early 1800s, the first town to devote its output exclusively to the production of boteh-inspired patterns, was the Scottish town of Paisley, who used Jacquard looms to produce designs in a broad spectrum of colors and patterns that no longer needed to rely on originals for copying. The name stuck.”
Vanishing Elephant AW12 Collection Lookbook
Play It Fair…
If it’s generally accepted that certain colors have more in common with specific seasons, the same can be applied, although to a lesser degree, to patterns. To name but a few, stripes and gingham are usually sported in Summer whereas argyles, for instance, are more wintery. Even if within a fashion forward universe, this traditional approach is being overlooked, the concept still remains to a large extent. It there’s one such pattern that symbolizes Winter in all its frost white glory, it has to be Fair Isle.
Named after the homonym island located in Northern Scotland, it consists of a local traditional knitting technique where up to five distinct colors are combined in rows, creating a uniquely characteristic mosaic pattern. Originally found only in this island, its visual appeal has captured the heart of designers and stylish individuals alike, earning it a place in runways and shops worldwide. Its recent burst in popularity placed it on most Christmas wishlists and allowed designers to create a never before seen variety of items, in an array of fabrics and shades.
Urban Menswear Myths #2
It’s usually accepted that a gentleman should stick to a particular color palette, comprised of classic shades and refraining from overly bold items and accessories. Although this perception of the overall ensemble is slowly falling into oblivion, one item in particular has been breaking boundaries and rapidly assuming the spotlight when it comes to introducing color and pattern into an outfit: the sock.
As with so many other elements in menswear, it’s assumed that socks should only be purchased in a variety of solid hues of black, blue, grey and brown. In strictly formal, corporate environments, any kind of subtle alteration is often looked upon sideways, making it all the more easier and somewhat safer, to stick to those basics and avoid unnecessary risks and attention. Make no mistake, even within this range there’s a fiery debate on how socks should match other elements, namely the shoe or the trouser.
However, as the definition of formal is changing by the day, allowing us to present slight glimpses of personality through our attires, be it in the form of a colorful tie, pocket square, cufflink or even socks, now is the time to do so. Sporting a slightly flashier solid or patterned version, should not be faced as provocative, but rather as a strong dash of character. If done right, it’s a perfect way to add visual interest and the right amount of edge to any look. Just don’t go overboard and stay away from childish prints or motifs, but don’t be afraid to show some color; especially with more casual outfits…roll those cuffs and show them socks! Contrasting ankles are a great way to step it up a notch.
I can’t help to be amazed by the sheer amount of inspirational sources we bump into on our daily routines, even if, at times, we pass them by completely unaware. To be able to focus on little details of the surrounding mundane envelope and absorb their essence, definitely requires highly developed senses of observation and sensitivity.
When designers present their creations on the runway, one of the inevitable questions that follows is - “where did you get your inspiration from?” The wide span of answers usually contains a few that catch us by surprise and leave us wondering how on earth did they come up with that… Although I’m nowhere near the genius minds behind some of these collections, I too am inspired by numerous sources, some of which share no direct connection to fashion.
One I’ve been dwelling on about, is the handcrafted façade tiles on century old buildings in downtown Porto. It’s impossible not to stare when faced with the astonishing artwork on these pieces, perfectly combining elements such as color, pattern and texture, all common to the clothing universe. I’ve incorporated several of those references in my own attire but when I came across this picture, I just knew I had to write about it.
The thing is, the pattern on this case is exactly the same that can be found on the house my family’s currently refurbishing, albeit in a different color scheme.
As Sir Paul Smith so eloquently put it: “Inspiration can be found everywhere; if you can’t, you’re not looking properly”. If carefully curated, some of these patterns could result in potentially appealing garments or accessories, bringing to life a rich cultural heritage.
A small sample of other traditional tile motifs
Source: Viuva Lamego
Back to black
2010 was undoubtedly a pattern filled year…plaids were everywhere to be found and quickly became one of the “must haves” of the season. Coming in all types of scales, shapes and colors, there was one particular pattern that stood above all else, thus reenforcing its place as one of the most sought, beautiful and timeless of the bunch: Blackwatch.
Originating from one of Scotland’s most famous regiments, this tricolored tartan bearing the shades of blue, black and green, is thought to have been primarily used for hunting purposes due to its subdued nature. Its timeless character and overall allure have made it into one of fashion’s most beloved plaids. Exuding a unique sense of class and elegance, it’s an amazing addition to any wardrobe, adding color in an understated way and being easily paired with other pieces. The only downside is deciding which item to get, given the amount of offerings out there…
Checked Peacoat by Paul Smith
Dark blue plaid blazer and reversible plaid vest by Aquarama @ Porvocação
Tartan hoodie by Fred Perry @ Bonobos
Clarks Originals Desert Boots @ Asos
Pendleton four pocket tote bag @ Asos.
Blackwatch Plaid Wool Scarf @ Rugby
On the street…