The Rake

DESIGN FOR LIFE

Source: Chocolate-brown lambskin leather Hoffman jacket, Cromford Leather Co.; black and navy wool, cable-knit roll neck jumper, Vilebrequin; blue denim jeans, 7 for all Mankind.Academy opener and this page: Olive green cotton safari jacket, Ralph Lauren Purple Label; khaki green cotton two-piece suit and cornflower blue floral print cashmere scarf, both Hermès; ecru cotton safari shirt, Private White V.C.

In 1896 the American architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form (ever) follows function” when describing his approach to designing some of the earliest skyscrapers in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. His idea was that design should not be dictated by aesthetic tradition but by the intended purpose of the building, meaning his designs placed high importance on usable, practical space while keeping a somewhat pared-back aesthetic compared to his contemporaries, who readily borrowed more classical Greek and Roman elements.

It could be argued that some of the most effective menswear of the last century was also designed using this mantra. Garments that are routinely categorised as staple items today, including the pea coat, the chino trouser and the bomber jacket, all served a purpose once upon a time. Many of these items were born of the military, a profession in which purposeful design is paramount. Perhaps the reason why many of these clothes have remained so popular is because they were designed with no extraneous details; every design trait was there for a reason. Take, for example, the trench coat, originally imagined for British officers in the first world war, which featured a gun flap providing protection from a rifle’s recoil, d-rings on the belt (for hanging maps or grenades), and shoulder epaulettes for securing gloves or a hat. Not all military garments were

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