Just look at the sausage dogs! If there’s one thing that’s going to make people S.S. Daley crazy as they scroll around this look book, it’s bound to be his dachshund-graphic sweaters. “We live in Islington. You can’t walk around here without seeing 50 sausage dogs a day,” Steven Stokey-Daley laughed. Top marks to him for spotting the absolutely peak-pet fashion of our times—and for issuing this irresistibly cute canine celebration, in all its humorous Englishness.
Followers will clock that the dogs are the sequel to the S.S. Daley duck cardigans that took off as a micro craze of their own accord (with a little boost from Harry Styles) after the designer showed the original one (hand-knit by Ruth Herring) in his spring 2022 show. The duck cardigans, happily, haven’t flown. Another, in pink, is in this collection. Stokey-Daley reports, again from the streets of London, that they’re a demographic-crossing favorite. “We’ve been spotting all sorts wearing them: an older gent on the tube, girls in a pub, a chap at the Chelsea Flower Show. The range of ages who relate to S.S. Daley is beautiful. That makes me so proud.”
There’s wisdom in not rushing on too fast from where you started, even if you only started three years ago. Stokey-Daley, a wise head on young shoulders, understands this well. “Even though I only graduated in 2020, so much has happened since then. So I took a bit of a breath this season and went more into thinking about art school, coming of age, that time when you’re realizing your sexual identity.” His scenario—the louche English-upper-class queer culture the designer has located as his subject matter—is notionally set in an artist’s house, with a life-drawing session going on. He said he’d been researching photographs of mid-20th-century artists, like Lucian Freud as a young man, painting at home.
The advantage of look books over runway shows is all the zooming-in and lingering time they allow. This one is a measure of exactly how far S.S. Daley has come, just by keeping to who Stokey-Daley is—and extending the character of his ideas into a wardrobe packed with real and wantable things. There’s the cut, tenderness, and detail of his tailoring, turned out with a lovely sort of lived-in-ness. There’s the greenish linen striped tailored jacket, cleverly cut with chevron patterns in the pockets, with matching shorts with that sort of old public-school-uniform fit. An ivory jacket—“very Sebastian Flyte, in my mind,” the designer said—is edged in tiny burgundy zigzag thread.
Then are his cotton crochet shirts and tabards, handcrafted in Romania and decorated with tile patterns Stokey-Daley saw recently in Portugal. (He loves ceramics.) Plus: a whole range of the shirts he used to make from tablecloths and tea towels at home in Liverpool. Now there are botanical prints everywhere, sourced from charity-shop finds “because I have really lovely memories of helping my nan in her garden with her marigolds and hydrangeas.” All the charm of the vintage-y softness and color is still there. Most things aren’t upcycled anymore, but Stokey-Daley says he takes care to choose organic materials.
Meanwhile, his signature extreme Oxford bags—the shape that has shifted men’s fashion since he Instagrammed them as a student—are present and correct and now in lots of different fabrications. It’s smart of Stokey-Daley to own this because wide legs have been all over the men’s runways these past two weeks. It’s remarkable, really: S.S. Daley is a label that can influence the avant-garde while appealing to everyone from trad granddads to indie grandchildren. All this and sausage dogs too. Who else can say that?