It has been noted before, in this column as well as in ones whose writers actually know what they are talking about, that the men's fashion industry is booming.
It's certainly more successful than my attempts at darning the "vintage" knits in my "archive" – or, if you prefer plain English, the old jumpers in my wardrobe.
As evidence, London has just hosted its second men's fashion week, this time previewing the autumn-winter 2013 lines. The event goes by the snappy title of London Collections: Men, and replaces the one-day affair previously sandwiched between the womenswear shows. (It's proof of the topsy-turvy way fashion goes about its business that we see autumn and winter 2013 ranges on the catwalk before we see the year's spring and summer clothes in the shops.)
Meanwhile, figures from retail analysts show the kind of upward momentum for men's fashion that George Osborne can only dream about for the economy as a whole: the market grew 3% in 2011, with menswear now worth £9.9 billion, nearly half the industry total. Consultancy firm Bain & Co predicts a further 10% growth in the value of menswear fashion when the statistics wonks have crunched the 2012 data under their penny loafers.
But as other commentators have pointed out, few men will admit to being interested in "fashion" or shopping, so who's doing all the buying? Surely One Direction don't have that many stylists, do they? Or is what we think of as "style" – something men will admit to wanting – simply fashion by another name? What's certain is that no matter the size of the sector, trends in men's clothing are slow and predictable. Trousers will go wide, then narrow, then wide; the number of buttons on your suit jacket will go from two to three to four then back down again. It might hit one, if you and your tailor are adventurous types.
Another certainty is that the trends I joke about expecting to see in this column – miners' strike-era donkey jackets, for instance, bowler hats, North Korean-style boiler suits, spats – are always going to come round eventually.
Late last year, for instance, Burton launched a line in collaboration with the Royal College of Art inspired by the miner's strike of 1984, complete with a £180 donkey jacket. In London last week, Margaret Howell showed something that looked suspiciously like a donkey jacket too. At the Hackett show, meanwhile, models were sent down the runway in bowlers. You may be pleased to hear that the monkey boot is making a comeback as well, courtesy of a collaboration between shoemaker Grenson and fast-rising designer Lou Dalton. She was responsible for the boiler suits, too.
And the spats? OK, I didn't actually spot any spats. But with Baz Luhrmann's remake of The Great Gatsby due for release in May – costumes by Prada – don't bet against them making a comeback. Especially if we have a wet spring.
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