This week we’ve been privy to a view of one of Ben Sherman’s A/W lines for 2011, the Plectrum collection which is due to arrive with retailers in the next few months. Ben Sherman are a brand who have heartily embraced change in recent years, through various sub-personas in an attempt to secure a foothold in the conscious of their prospective audience. Aware of how easily a brand of their calibre can fade into obscurity, BS have concerted their efforts to discover new voices within the brand, all while retaining a sense of authenticity.
Though Ben Sherman are synonymous with quality shirting, with many an English father and grandfather citing loyalty to a Ben Sherman box-pleat beauty; staple shirting alone cannot propel a brand to the heights Ben Sherman are striving for. They want to be a go-to brand as they were in decades past, and they’ve accepted this can only be achieved through change and risk. With that said, along comes their three-pronged assault in the form of their mainline Script, the Plectrum collection and the Modern Classics range. Each is designed to introduce a varied facet of the BS personality, pointing toward a willingness to develop their brand.
The Plectrum AW11 collection is driven by a much famed narrative 'An Englishman in New York.’ The line aims to envelope a vision of an English gent from times gone by, a well-travelled explorer whose charm and wit are represented throughout his attire. Some may argue such a vision is a departure from the mainline identity, but I’d suggest involvement in this industry demands change and in this case they’ve certainly done so. AW11 is a awash with texture and surprisingly includes a number of powerful tones such as deep burgundy, scarlet and burnt orange. Such choices provide an unexpected contrast to a family of military greens, greys and a diverse spectrum of blue notes.
Outwear is certainly a focal point as can be expected with attire designed for the brisker seasons, with heavy wools making an appearance in military styled jackets alongside more technical options and waxed cottons. These pieces, especially the wool jackets, lend themselves to an oversized, almost indulgent look that surely indicates you’re sufficiently wrapped up to face the elements, allowing layering underneath. While I mention layering, BS looks to Scotland for premium quality knits for this collection. There are several Fair Isle designs with shawl collars, alongside some belted cardigans; the later to surely have a dual purpose as a jacket in the transition to autumn months. BS include oxford favourites, ginghams and an unusual addition of several tartan and checked options, adding bursts of colour not always associated with what can be considered a muted season.