London Collections: Men - the British men's fashion week - is the fashion calendar start-up that can do no wrong. In just three seasons this three-day event has lured back Alexander McQueen from Paris, Burberry from Milan, and given London's jostling cast of innovative blokes clothiers a platform to shine on.
Now, with exactly one month to go until the spring/summer 2014 event, LC:M has quietly burst its banks and rolled over into a fourth day.
John Lewis, the staff-owned £9.5 billion-a-year retail chain, today announced it is to join the British Fashion Council's calendar on the afternoon of Saturday June 15 - the day before LC:M's formerly three-day schedule had been due to begin.
The company will show its rugged own-brand collection, John Lewis & Co, in the first presentation of a packed schedule that ends on Tuesday night with a Tom Ford party.
And it's not just the masters of Never Knowingly Undersold who are starting the London Collections shindig earlier than advertised; yesterday Dolce & Gabbana disclosed they are to throw a mega-party that same evening to mark the opening of their new men's boutique on Bond Street and the French-sounding (but very British) Duchamp are having a Saturday event too. This leaves the capital's menswear event just one day shorter that the British Fashion Council's premier womenswear showcase, London Fashion Week.
This success is testament to the unrelentingly enthusiastic networking skills of Dylan Jones (LC:M chair, GQ magazine editor, and co-host of the Dolce & Gabbana do) but also reflects a wider fashion phenomenon: menswear sales are booming whilst womenswear remains comparatively quiescent.
Matt McCormack, the company's head of buying, said of the mostly British-sourced John Lewis & Co collection: "sales have remained significantly ahead of budget. Autumn/winter '12 continued to outperform the market, with sales doubling year on year at +111per cent." All this is great news for British manufacturing - increasingly a key selling point for the British menswear industry.
Meanwhile in Milan, Italy's most powerful designer has appealed to his peers who hold their main fashion shows out of the country to come home. Giorgio Armani, 78, said: "If Milan is to be considered as an important hub of international fashion, then the leading Italian brands must…. view Milan Fashion Week as the only event at which to present their lines."
Miu Miu, Valentino and Moncler's top-tier womenswear line, Gamme Rouge, all show their collections in Paris. Mr Armani said: "I am absolutely convinced that, if we want Milan's leading role to be restored, the major brands that currently present their collections abroad must return to the Italian fashion system".