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Debenhams unveils world's most unlikely fashion icon

27
Jul '10
Debenhams has revealed the world's most unlikely fashion icon, as the grumpy and notoriously badly dressed hill walker Alfred Wainwright becomes the driving force behind a new dress code appearing on British streets.

Alfred Wainwright's famous Lake District guides appears to have inspired so many to follow in his footsteps that niche, all-weather clothing styles have made the giant leap from crag edge to the catwalk, according to fashion store Debenhams.

Demand for hiking style jackets, trousers, t-shirts, socks, rucksacks and boots has soared over the last two years following a series of television and radio programmes about Wainwright and his life.

Debenhams Director of Menswear Buying, Paul Baldwin, commented: "We're calling it 'Wainwright Chic'. Men and women have fallen in love with the rugged outdoor image the hill climbing clothing style portrays, and want to wear it every day.

"At one time, these specialist clothes would have been bought only by long distance hill walkers and mountaineers.

"Now, however, you're more likely to see them worn on the streets of Kensington and Chelsea than Scafell or Grisedale Pike."

The greatest irony is that Wainwright himself had a somewhat eclectic taste in men's clothing. Many of his epic walks were conducted in an ancient flat cap and a battered, belted coat worn over a frumpy Fair Isle jumper which had seen better days. Badly fitting trousers held up by style-less braces were tucked into thick, grey woollen socks, which he allowed to accumulate in a haphazard manner, around the tops of crude but functional boots.

However a series of television programmes - including a recent series presented by glamorous Julia Bradbury - have transformed Wainwright's image to iconic status.

An entirely new generation have been introduced to his guides and the popularity of Lake District walking holidays have soared following the sterling's collapse in value against other currencies. Now they have brought the style chosen for their countryside holidays to other facets of their lives in urban Britain.

Rucksacks are now just as acceptable as briefcases in business meetings, and trousers convertible to shorts with the flick of a zip have become standard issue summer leisure wear. Hiking boots pass unremarked upon in the City, and weather proofed anoraks with specialist mountaineering accessories appear regularly on school runs and shopping trips.

Paul Baldwin said: "The tough, capable image of outdoor clothing seems to have chimed with the mood of the nation at a time of recession.

"Knowing that you are well equipped to cope with everything life can throw at you - no matter how hard the going becomes - is now seen as essential to weather the economic storm.

"Outdoor clothes are also very practical, and having pockets in every conceivable position seems to appeal to men in particular.

"However, the style is just as popular with women, which perhaps reflects the increasing number of women who also feel they too have a mountain to climb."

Debenhams plc


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