20% off selected summer pieces from our Bank Holiday Offer with code Summer24

Artist Wes Robinson for New & Lingwood

Artist Wes Robinson for New & Lingwood

Wes Robinson is a British fabric designer and illustrator whose offbeat eye for colour and playful artistic style has led him to work with some of the biggest names in menswear, including J. Press, Drakes and Ralph Lauren. He recently partnered with his longtime friend and our very own Creative Director, Tom Leeper, to create a capsule collection for New & Lingwood, available now online.

The collection comprises of two stunning pieces, combining iconic New & Lingwood stylings with Wes’ own unique artistic sensibilities. The centrepiece is a silk pyjama set printed with a unique pattern rendered in vibrant pinks, reds and blues. This same pattern is then carried over to the lining of a navy wool dressing gown with white piping. This capsule embodies New & Lingwood’s creative ethos, which seeks to explore how our artistic sides can be expressed through comfortable, luxurious menswear.

To take a closer look at the new capsule collection, I sat down to speak with Wes and Tom to discuss their collaborative process and to get Wes’ unique take on today’s menswear landscape.

Andrew Yamato:

Let’s start with the fact that you two have known each other for years. How did you meet?

Wes Robinson:

I met Tom before I knew who he was. There’s a really good vintage market in our area and I tried to buy some Sperrys off him, but they didn’t fit me. When I walked into [Tom’s menswear store] TAISCE, I recognized him from the market.

Andrew Yamato:

You have very different personal aesthetics. You’re wearing a bright madras plaid shirt I can’t imagine Tom wearing.

Wes Robinson:

There’s an elegance to Tom that I don’t have. There’s a refinement, good taste, a great eye, and a love for material, for texture, for combination. But it’s quiet. It’s like when you go to a restaurant, and some restaurants will really try to impress you, but then others will actually impress you by not trying. I think it takes a higher level of understanding to get that right. In a time of novelty-led social media, when fashion needs to be so bizarrely out there to trigger a response in people and get favoured by these algorithms, we all now have to deal with, I think real style is a lot quieter than that, and a lot longer lasting. It’s not something you engage with over a few seconds, or a week. I feel like it’s style that subtly continues, and I think people recognize it. When people see someone doing it well, they’ll stay with that designer or artist for a much longer period. I think it’s a slower part of humanity's appreciation of itself. It’s more delicate and it’s a lot more difficult to do. Being shocking is relatively easy, but some people want to walk into a place and look elegant, look refined. And that’s what Tom is. Completely opposite to me.

Tom Leeper:

Ha! Wes is right — I AM subtle. I think that was one of the most exciting things about coming to New & Lingwood, that it wasn’t necessarily a perfect match. It was something out of my comfort zone. It’s a weird thing. New & Lingwood is quite known for bold colour. and I’m obsessed with colour! But I typically like to use it in a subtler way, in supporting roles for accent colours.

When I had TAISCE, Wes would come in and we’d riff about everything. It was all about juxtaposition. I think we probably complement each other so well when we talk about things, because Wes brings something so completely different to the table. Wes is WAY more versed than me on colour, and I think that’s what really drew me to working with him. He was a huge inspiration when I first joined New & Lingwood and was working on that first collection based on The Scottish Colourists. We’d sit for hours going through colour charts. Wes understands the science behind it, and I’m much more led by my emotion or intuition.

Wes Robinson:

Tom’s got a very muted colour palette that suits him. Everything about that palette translates to him as a person. I can wear his colour palette — they’re good colours on me — but they drain me a little bit. I have a bit more saturation in my complexion that can take a brighter colour against my skin. So, it’s almost like we’re using the same colours, but mine are at full volume, and Tom’s are softly spoken.

Tom Leeper:

There’s something about the Scottish colourists and their work that really resonated with me. They use these explosions of colour, but when you really look at it overall, when you look at one of their paintings, it’s a fairly limited palette.

Wes Robinson:

Yeah, I would say that they use almost like a 70/30 rule, in which 30% uses a pop of colour and the rest is a lovely selection of neutrals.

Tom Leeper:

It’s like a play, where you have your supporting actors and then you have your main parts, and I was thinking of it like that. You have these tones that support what New & Lingwood is probably more known for, which are the kind of louder accents, and I think that’s what really formed from the collaboration. We thought it’d be nice nod to the Colourists.

Wes Robinson:

Collaborating is difficult. One person can lead and the other follow, or you can butt heads, and it’s normally the person with the strongest personality who wins. But I didn’t feel like there was any of that with Tom. He was just a subtle guiding hand, with gentle feedback.

Tom Leeper:

This was a collaboration I really wanted to do, to work with Wes, and to showcase his personality. I really wanted to make sure that the final product was Wes.

Andrew Yamato:

Throughout the history of modern menswear, going back to JC Leyendecker and Laurence Fellowes, illustration has played such an important part in the marketing of menswear, which seems interesting for such a specific, literal, tactile product as clothing. There seems to be something that illustration — and even cartoons — can capture and communicate about menswear that photography often can’t or doesn't. Could you speak to that, Wes?

Wes Robinson:

There’s something about our minds, the way we think, the way we abstract; we don’t see the world as it is. We imagine the world as we see it. To draw is to imagine, to abstract from reality. Stuff gets lost in that. A cartoon doesn’t tell the whole story. But when we look at that cartoon or illustration, our mind is forced to work. Why does that work especially well in menswear? I think perhaps men are projecting something in their minds, and an illustration or a cartoon can match that.

There’s a balancing going on here as well. Well-dressed, smart men are typically serious, they’re rational. They can be modern. They can have a lot about them that’s kind of cutting edge and specifically male, not necessarily fluffy. By contrast, a cartoon is something naive, something humorous, something simpler and it works. So many talented illustrators have been able, through their naivete, through their simplicity, to reflect something back into that masculine world and balance it.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.