Whether dining at a chic new restaurant or mingling at a swanky soirée, there are ample opportunities in London to don your finery for a glamorous evening out. However, while there is no shortage of lavish places to go, there are
few specialists dedicated to creating clothing specifically for parties and special occasions. That’s what makes Favourbrook unique.
Born from a fascination with unusual textiles, Favourbrook was founded in 1993 by Oliver Spencer, who went on to set up a second brand, his eponymous menswear label, in 2002. Spencer’s idea for Favourbrook was to start by creating beautiful formal classics, but to turn them upside down with the use of unusual fabrics he found at Stephen Walters’ fabric mill in Suffolk.
‘I was selling second-hand clothing while I was still at art school, and I started dabbling in textiles, then experimented with making up clothes from the materials I found, using everything from ecclesiastical cloths to the finest woven silks,’ he says.
Now a go-to destination for outfits for all manner of formal occasions, after 15 years in the Piccadilly Arcade on Jermyn Street, Favourbrook moved its store to 16–17 Pall Mall last year, creating a space that is impressively grand but not intimidating, with the men’s and women’s shops located next door to each other. ‘I wanted it to feel like walking into a luxury members’ club or a country house,’ says Spencer. ‘A place where customers want to spend time.’
‘A waistcoat is tremendously versatile for formalwear. It shows you’ve paid attention to detail
And spend time there people do, as in the men’s store alone, there are around 1,000 bow ties, 750 waistcoats and 12 different dress shirts to peruse, not forgetting six different types of smoking jackets, in six different colours of velvet. Indeed, Favourbrook’s velvet jackets are an eveningwear staple that you can dress up or down.
The waistcoat is another signature of Favourbrook menswear, and a garment Spencer is keen to endorse: ‘We’ve been making waistcoats since the very beginning and, while it’s not for everyone, a waistcoat is tremendously versatile for formalwear, and perfect for wearing to weddings,’ he explains. ‘A waistcoat shows you’ve paid attention to details.’
What’s more, the waistcoat doesn’t have to be saved solely for formal occasions, it can add personality to more casual looks too, and Favourbrook has dressed many a star, from the Rolling Stones to Mick Fleetwood, in a waistcoat.
For the women’s collection, the focus remains on eclectic prints and textures, with signature dress coats and dresses characterised by intricate embroideries crafted in France. Theatrical yet sophisticated, each piece is made in very small quantities in the brand’s workroom in the East End, so whatever the occasion, it’s highly unlikely anyone else will be spotted in the same attire.
The timeless Nehru jacket, for example, is reinvented in different fabrics each season, as is the Belgravia coat, a refined longer-line jacket with button design detail on the back. The Westminster coat, which has a high collar for a sleek and graceful neckline, creates a particularly flattering and streamlined silhouette, and the classic dress coat styles, for which Favourbrook womenswear is best known, are designed so they can be worn as a coat over a dress, or fully-buttoned as a dress.
While the notion of dressing up in formalwear might seem a bit old fashioned to some, Spencer looks to the past to move forwards to the future, and there are many moments in history that have inspired his modern collections. ‘Dickensian England was a great period, and I also like the highly polished 1920s-1930s era,’ he says. ‘The 1970s was cool too – everyone was wearing lots of texture and having fun.’
Ultimately, having fun with textiles to add flair to occasionwear is what Favourbrook is all about. ‘Nowadays people generally dress down more in the day, even for work, so more people are dressing up to go out in the evening and for formal events like weddings,’ Spencer muses. ‘I think it’s got even more special to get dressed up and go out, and people should have fun with it!’