Topman & James Long

by Rose Forde

Young Rebels Go Far and Wide in Jumpers
Continuing his knack for channeling rebellious spirit through his design, London’s menswear hero of the moment James Long presents a seven-piece knitwear collection that captures the essence of his “jumper wearing heroes” exclusively for Topman.

“I enjoy knitwear. I don’t know how to knit, which makes me stronger creatively, as when you don’t know the rules you can work with no restrictions,” says the free-spirited Long. “There is an element of fun to this collection. I feel like I really understand the Topman customer. Within that space [capsule collection], there are some really fashion forward pieces. It has the intricacy of previous work and signature patterns that scope back over my last 10 collections.”

Ever since James Long first showed in London, Topman has been by his side, supporting and nurturing his success through their New Gen initiative in the hope that one day they would bag an exclusive capsule collection like this one. Though the designer is known for his heavy use of expensive fabrics, like leather, and complex design detailing that doesn’t tend to transfer easily to the high street, he has managed to create this affordable offer without compromise.

“We [James and Topman Designer/Director, Gordon Richardson] decided together that knitwear was something we could produce at a premium level in store. We wanted this to be a ‘Made in England’ project with top quality British wool and engineering.”

Of the six crews and one cardigan, each depicts a musical hero of Long’s, including Keith Richards and of course Kurt Cobain. “I have this picture of Sid Vicious over my desk where he is in the backstage of a club looking fucked, but he is wearing this jumper with spots which has just always stood out for me.” The bestselling piece has been the multi-colored Tartan knit, which, Long says, “was supposed to represent the Bay City Rollers on Acid.” So here goes to pushing knitwear to a new level of cool.