St James's London - A Guide to Menswear: Aleks Cvetkovic, The Jackal

Fashion

A Guide to Menswear: Aleks Cvetkovic, The Jackal

We caught up with Aleks Cvetkovic from The Jackal (www.thejackalmagazine.com) about menswear in St James’s, from the must-have item for SS18 to the one resident in St James’s who’s made a lasting impression.

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We caught up with Aleks Cvetkovic from The Jackal (www.thejackalmagazine.com) about menswear in St James’s, from the must-have item for SS18 to the one resident in St James’s who’s made a lasting impression.


What are your top tips for SS18?

Keep your look simple, tonal and lightweight. Menswear’s been through five-odd years of fussiness and lots of over-designed bright colours and patterns, so it’s time to pare back your look and let a few well cut pieces in softly textured fabrics do the talking. Pastels are big news, so experiment with soft, subtle materials over bright, in-your-face designs. Think breezy linen shirts layered over soft jersey tees, paired with smooth, well-fitted cotton chinos or sophisticated tailored trousers. A decent pair of sunglasses and some simple white sneakers are all that’s needed to set a look like that off a treat.

What is the must-have item for SS18?

Wide-leg, high-waisted, pleated trousers are in. I can’t get enough of them; they flatter the figure, give you room to move and lend your bottom half some elegant curves – which is something to embrace, rather than be afraid of.

What makes St James’s such an interesting location in the LFWM calendar?

The St James’s show is always a highlight, particularly because the catwalk showcase looks are made up from pieces contributed by dozens of brands – it’s a show that gives you a sense of what a whole group of menswear brands from all across the British style spectrum are doing, rather than an insight into one designer’s mind – so it’s always a refreshing point of difference at LFWM.

Tell us about a person from St James's that made an impression on you, and who you think encapsulates what this area is about?

I’m a bit of a sucker for all the mythology surrounding George ‘Beau’ Brummell, whose statue stands at the entrance to Piccadilly Arcade. Today we think of him as a dandy, which makes him sound passé, but in his time he was a real maverick. He advocated restrained colours, good clean lines, soft white shirts, dark jackets and fitted trousers. He moved menswear forward and developed a refined look for men that’s much more sober than we give him credit for today. Dark, well-cut jacket; pale, elegant cotton shirt; crisp tailored trousers – what’s not to like? His look became, quite literally, a ‘no frills’ approach to good men’s dress.

What is the one thing in your wardrobe that never seems to go out of fashion?

The navy double-breasted blazer, it will go anywhere and do anything, season-in, season-out. It’s easy to dress up and down, too.

How have you continued to develop a unique style?

Of course, everyone’s style is unique, but the key for me as a journalist is to be open to different aesthetics and different means of self-expression. It’s easy to be critical of a look, or a piece of design, or a collection – but men’s fashion is inherently creative and individuals will express themselves in different ways with their clothes. Your personal style doesn’t develop unless you’re willing to experiment with the way you dress; some things will work, others might not. I try to remember that experimenting with your clothes is both good fun and a privilege – I’m very lucky to get to do what I do, and wear what I wear.

What aspects of bespoke do you appreciate the most?

I’ve always admired the sense of care that making bespoke clothing entails. Having someone create something with pride and with skill, using their hands, the luxury of time and ethically sourced materials in today’s world of fast fashion and mass manufacturing is truly special – and something that needs protecting and nurturing in London, too.

How would you describe the vibe of St James's?

St James’s is very special. It’s independent, quirky, steeped in tradition, but it’s forward-looking at the same time. I enjoy shopping on Jermyn Street because it’s a real destination – and not just for clothing, but for art, accessories, shoes, food and drink, too. Jermyn Street’s the kind of place where you can go and spend a bomb, or find something to treat yourself to for £30, which is great – and quite unlike a lot of the main shopping streets in other parts of central London.

What unexpected combination have you worn that proved to look great?

That’s a tricky one. I firmly believe that ‘style’ is a very personal and subjective concept – I might love some combinations I experiment with, but others might not understand why. Recently, I’ve enjoyed dressing quite structured, dramatic tailoring down with t-shirts and sneakers. It’s a more progressive and relaxed way to wear a suit than with a formal shirt, and I think it looks pin-sharp, but others might well disagree – which is half the fun of working with menswear.

What would your guide to St James's look like? What are the 3 must-see shops or places?

It’s impossible to give you just three. I love the place; its diversity and its tradition. New & Lingwood, Edward Green, Crockett & Jones, Bates, Floris, Hackett, Lock & Co, Jigsaw, Cheaney, Budd, Turnbull & Asser, John Smedley – it’s a hub for British menswear at its finest and you can visit St James’s to shop for everything from a morning suit to a crewneck tee. I’m a Paxton & Whitfield devotee, too. Everyone should try the Moliterno with truffle before they die…

What tips would you give someone buying their first bespoke/tailor-made piece?

Do your research and trust your gut, but listen to the craftsmen, too. There are a lot of bespoke customers out there who challenge the craftsmen or think they know better, which is foolish – the customer doesn’t make clothes all day, every day. If you want to order clothes that will last, and that you’ll wear day-in, day-out – let the expert do their thing. I learned that the hard way. Also, don’t order a fabric you’re desperate for the first time round, because often the first suit is the trickiest to get right and the second will be better. Choose something classic that will make a sensible addition to your wardrobe, see the process through, and go back for your dream suit if you like the results of the first commission.


Photography: Jamie Ferguson