One brand I was surprised by during the few London press days I made it to this season was Original Penguin, which this year collaborated with New York designer Richard Chai for their Winter 2011 offering. Richard isn't new to diffusion lines, having previously worked at Marc by Marc Jacobs and created a collection for Target, and he only recently gave up his own 'designer' line to focus on Richard Chai Love, a young and fresh American brand with a mid-level price point. I wasn't aware, however, of Richard's experience with menswear (two photos from his last menswear collection for Fall/Winter 2010 below - I wish I'd known about him at the time!) but it certainly looks like he knows what he's doing. A lot of the collection was a little too "Original Penguin" for my tastes - I'm not so into the LA lumberjack look - but those red plaid pants are perfect for the dandy about town (Hugh?) and I really liked the leather detailing on a boxy duffel coat.
I also noticed the footwear from Original Penguin, whose creative team clearly has picked up on the casual takes on formal shoes and brogues filtering down from the higher end brands. These certainly look like a very affordable alternative to a few bad boys I've been stalking in Selfridges, and a proper rubber sole never goes amiss! I long for the day when 'designer shoe' doesn't mean 'slippery death by leather sole'.