After looking at any M.J. Bale collection, it would come as no surprise to learn that the label’s designer, Matt Jensen is the son of a woolgrower and grazier who grew up on the land in rural New South Wales. His fondness for his homeland shines through in his heritage-inspired designs and this season sees M.J. Bale take us to the rugged hinterland of Tasmania. We caught up with Matt to find out more about this incredible new men’s collection.
MYER: Did you have man or a muse in mind when designing this collection for Autumn Winter?
Matt Jensen: We designed this collection around the concept of the “Adventures of a Well-Dressed Gentleman,” and didn’t have a specific man or muse in mind per se, but only because all our clients have adventures in some way or another. We focused on functionality and comfort, layering for winter and deconstruction in terms of garment structure.
M: What is about the 1920s that attracted and inspired you?
MJ: They say that the 1930s was the “golden age” of men’s dressing, but for me the time from around 1925-1932 was the most formative in terms of masculine elegance. Men really knew how to dress back then, wearing old-school three-piece suits with high-buttoned waistcoats and rich worsted suiting fabrics, like flannels and tweeds. Formal silhouettes, such as the double-breasted suit, were just coming in during this time as well. It was a significant period, and it just goes to show that with the revival of the double-breasted and three-piece suit that some menswear garments are timeless for a reason.
M: What is the must have piece from this collection?
MJ: Our deconstructed Highfield 8-button is a definite must-have from this collection. It looks great formally and can also be worn in an informal outerwear kind of way, with the collar (half) turned up. We have two flannel three-piece suits that are also must-haves for Autumn Racing: a grey pinstripe and a blue with pink windowpane check. Both come with a double-breasted waistcoat. Other than that, our new coats — ranging from technical cotton blends and long woollen coats, through to belted trench coats — are keepers for winter.
M: What’s your personal style?
MJ: I would describe my personal style as relaxed and comfortable, with an emphasis on good quality materials and fabrics. Cotton trousers are a particular favourite of mine (I rotate about eight of them), worn with a denim shirt and a formal spread collar — the contrasts in menswear fascinate me. I like casual jackets, but for formal or business occasions I will never be without a navy suit. I’m a collector of clothes for sure, and in turn design clothes for collectors. I’m very fortunate because I get to collect some great pieces on my trips around the world.
M: What is your number one styling tip for men?
MJ: Own a tuxedo you can dance in (seriously). Also, get colours right. Take a little time to build the appropriate wardrobe by choosing correct colours, and make sure your jacket fits. Australian men need clothes that fit their different proportions; one size rarely fits all unfortunately.
M: What’s your preferred colour combination in a suit, shirt and tie for Autumn Racing this year?
MJ: We’ve been experimenting with some tonal combinations, particularly around navys, blues and indigos. For the classically-minded, navy/red/white always works; for the more adventurous, loud windowpane checks that are offset with a subtle white shirt and dark tie will always attract (the right kind of) attention.
M: Sartorially speaking, what should a man never leave the house without?
MJ: A great pair of bench-made shoes and an elegant watch.
M.J. Bale is available at Myer Melbourne City, Chadstone, Doncaster, Sydney City, Perth City, Brisbane City, Adelaide City, Chatswood, Carindale, Karrinyup, Bondi stores.
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