Ahead of its fourth edition (Feb.7-8), the Jacket Required team had promised changes, and the London menswear fair certainly appeared different, particularly so in terms of size. With new owners in place (ITE Moda), the show had nearly doubled in size to occupy both the ballroom and the basement of the historic Victoria House in Bloomsbury Square, stretching across 32, 500 sq.ft in total. 

The extra floor space allowed for a brand line-up almost twice as long as that of last season. Levis Vintage, Norwegian Rain, Hartford, Elka Regntoj and Libertine Libertine were among the first-time exhibitors. Spanish contender Loreak Mendian also made its JR debut this season. “We decided to show in the UK to attract buyers from the region, and we’re also on the lookout for a UK distributor. Jacket Required appealed to us as we feel the show is similar in style to Capsule in Berlin – the atmosphere is great and the brand mix suits us.” British household name John Smedley took part as well – a fitting move since the brand is attempting to attract a younger clientele. The plan has also involved the recent launch of a sportswear-inspired range consisting of knitted polo shirts, zip-though jackets and tracksuit bottoms, all of which were on display.

Much of the original crop of names remained faithful to the show. Longstanding JR exhibitor Sandqvist had expanded noticeably; both its leather and canvas ranges looked more ample, and the small leather goods selection had increased in volume, too. There was a strong denim presence at the fair; Denham the Jeanmaker showcased its latest wares across two stands, while Denim Demon took the opportunity to introduce industry folk to its new reindeer-adorned branding aesthetic, which celebrates the designers’ sami roots.

Our overall experience of the new era Jacket Required is that is has been expanded with care. Since the founders Mark Batista and Craig Ford still serve as directors of the event, the show has managed to retain its original indie vibe, with focus on heritage brands and offbeat names of more forward-thinking inclinations. It still has a local feel, but there was a definite sense that international visitors have started trickling in in higher numbers. If JR continues along the same carefully curated path, yet more buyers will follow suit.