Jigsaw Menswear: creating the perfect casual blazer



Long before – sigh – "heritage" became the dominant look of the middle-class urban male, Jigsaw Menswear provided ’90s men with a smart-casual wardrobe that mixed tastefully coloured shirts and tees with softly structured suits and jackets. For chaps coming out of the club revolution of the previous few years, it added a funky twist to what in other, less-able hands could have been an exercise in try-hard trendiness. The resulting clothing defined the look of a decade in which a large proportion of British males dressed like architects. 

Even though it shared the same brand name, there was always a big contrast between the tasteful-but-mumsy womens' range and the men's gear. While the former was defined by Liberty-like prints and posh-girl frocks, Jigsaw Menswear had a knowing, tasteful minimalism which appealed to those that came to the party from mod, casual and acid house. This was fashion for men interested in style, not "this season's colour". 

And then, in one of those episodes that define the fall of once-great institutions, it changed its name to 'Uth'– yes, as in 'youth' – went a little bit too fashion-forward, and disappeared off the high street in 2002, leaving the road clear for the likes of Reiss, Banana Republic and Uniqlo. Silly people. 

Happily, and surprisingly, Jigsaw Menswear relaunched last year, with Frances Walker at the creative helm, a graduate of Nottingham Trent University and most recently, a menswear designer at Nicole Fahri. A fan of the original incarnation of JM, her collections are wedded in the tastful tradition of the brand, all clean lines, subtle knits and well-rendered details. And while the high street is far more in tune with the taste of urban males, her collection is strong enough to compete with the Albams and Margaret Howells of this world. 

This heavy duty cotton blazer, bought at the weekend, is a demonstration of both the label's heritage and its intent to be seen as a serious player in the modern chaps' market. Jigsaw Menswear may never rule the British high street like it did, but with Walker at the helm, it can certainly maintain a strong posititon. As long as it doesn't change its name to anything daft again…

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