Nigel Cabourn Honors the "Desert Rats" of WWII in His 2017 Spring/Summer Collection

A history lesson as told by fashion.

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Fashion
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Deployed variously to North Africa, Italy and eventually participating in the D-Day landings at Normandy, the British 7th Armoured Division — better known as the “Desert Rats” — would go down in history as one of the British Army’s most distinguished units. This season, they find themselves the subject of revered British designer Nigel Cabourn‘s focus, who translated the desert fatigues of warm-weather WWII-era military uniform into covetable looks across his three main lines. We dropped by Cabourn’s showroom during London Collections Men to take a look for ourselves.

An avid collector of vintage military pieces, Cabourn has spent the past 38 years building up a formidable collection of 4,000 items. The “fabric-driven” designer puts his extensive archive to use, ideating from the material upwards and incorporating historical fabrics such as Ventile — a British heritage fabric engineered for the military to be wind- and waterproof — and a 67-year-old Lancashire deadstock cotton drill in pieces such as his popular Cameraman jacket and a desert officer-inspired two-piece suit for the Authentic line.

Elsewhere, Cabourn’s workwear-inspired Lybro line makes use of heavily-washed Japanese cotton poplin rib, herringbone, drill and denim fabrics that mix a military-influenced palette of tans and khakis with utilitarian overcoat and cargo pant designs. The Army Gym collection, meanwhile, is influenced both by Cabourn’s own exercise regimen as well as the more relaxed sweats that the Desert Rats would have worn in basic training, incorporating a 100-percent cotton tight looped grey marl fabric for a range of tees and sweats.

Underpinned by obsessive attention to provenance and detail, Cabourn’s designs will be available at The Army Gym and select retailers in Spring 2017.

The Army Gym
28 Henrietta Street
London WC2E 8NA

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