I’ve got one of those tradesman surnames that people like to chat about when they’ve run out of all other small talk. Fisher, eh? Ha, ha. Any fishermen in the family? Well, yes, actually. Unlike many Potters and Tailors out there, the Fishers were fishers until the 50s. My granddad worked a trawler out of Lowestoft.
My dad’s earliest memory is leaving Beach Village, a fishing community which grew from a huddle of upturned boats in the 1790s into a settlement of 500 homes on Lowestoft’s grim old pebbly shore. It was razed during slum clearance in the 50s, but by then most of it had been destroyed anyway by the great flood of 1953. My mum first heard my dad’s name when their headmaster read out condolences during school assembly: my granddad’s trawler was lost at sea, presumed destroyed by a naval mine left floating around after the Second World War.
So I feel a bit weird when nautical comes round as a trend. In fashion it tends to be kitsch: too much about shiny gold buttons and comedy anchors than the functional requirements of dressing for one of the most dangerous working environments known to man. So it makes me happy that this season’s nautical offerings are more lateral. JW Anderson showed loose sailor trousers and decorated his dresses and tops with rope. There were outsized peacoats at Lanvin and Céline. Everyone from Chanel to Givenchy did stripes. The ghost of the sea was there but no one got too Pierre et Gilles about it.
Tibi, an American label that excels at bright colours and patterns, has a resort collection out now called “Dirty Sailor”. It features a tattoo print which is an interesting mix of flowers and ropes – beautiful but rough looking. It avoids all “hello sailor” campery. If you can afford it, buy it. If you can’t, look at Cleo Ferin Mercury’s work. She makes silk scarves and collars, and her spring collection is also inspired by the ocean: specifically Hokusai-style waves and tropical seas.
For a simple accessory, the shark’s tooth has become a bit of a thing at Givenchy. You can buy earrings, bracelets and necklaces featuring the fashion house’s signature megalodon in everything from simple silver to diamanté. Or you could pay a bit less and pick up one by Rachel Boston. She’s an interesting young jewellery designer whose work focuses on strong natural shapes. Look at her website: there’s are lots of stings, claws and teeth. Ggggrrr.
Do buy a striped top, though. Every wardrobe must have one of these super-versatile tops that bring freshness and order to any outfit. Me + Em do nice ones, but you should really buy one from Seasalt Cornwall. This company works with local companies and uses sustainable textiles to create clothes that reflect Cornish culture. This means many a striped top. The business also makes charity products to help the Fishermen’s Mission. I don’t know what my grandfather would think of me sitting here spraffing on about the wearability of Breton stripes, but I’m sure he’d approve of that.
Follow Alice on Instagram @aliceefisher