London is truly a highly international city. Any ordinary day guarantees the opportunity to encounter a plethora of different tongues, evidencing that the millions upon millions of people populating the city, its apartments and its streets, have crawled from innumerable pockets of the Earth. It is always interesting to see where people will gather: despite differences in culture, there always exists places of communal interest, towards which the masses will gravitate. London’s current cafe boom (inarguably catering to the demanding palates of the copious amounts of Australian and New Zealander imports) is creating multiple hot-spots for anyone even remotely caffeine-inclined to get their single-origin fix, whether they like it from Ethiopia, El Salvador or Guatemala; be it cold-dripped, siphoned or given the magic touch of a Synesso or a La Marzocco machine.
Possibly the most interesting thing about the wafts of freshly roasted and ground beans, and the chicly cool, carefully designed interiors in which hundreds of cups are expertly poured daily, are the crowds that they draw. And to be more specific, the most curious thing (among the younger gabble of 20-something males) is the undeniable uniform that seems to be globally sported. Anyone who didn’t know better may assume that the world boasts its own generous wardrobe department, and that anybody who has been cast as one of these afore-mentioned ‘20-something coffee-enthusiasts’ has been assigned a specific aesthetic, with which they must comply daily.
For the boys of the espresso world, the essential canvas of the look centres around basic casual-wear. Skinny jeans and dull-coloured chinos are a common occurrence, and Swedish brands certainly among the favoured source of a twill weave. Continuing the simplistic theme of fuss-free basics: the old faithful t-shirt; preferred fit being tight enough not to grate against the lightly tailored look, yet loose enough to turn up the nose of a deeply-bronzed, rollerblading Miami resident. When it comes to cloth, denim is undeniably the people’s choice, sported dark, light, neat, worn, pressed, tattered, doubled or alone. For the individuals who favour formality – at least a whisper of it – a button-down shirt is not out of place: long or short sleeved (season-dependent), and most commonly rolled. In text-book cases, said turned cuff or hem will sneakily reveal a smattering of illustrative inking, exposing a hint of the inner being beneath. And let’s not be forgetting: adornment and accessories are a critical component of the success of the achievement of authenticity. Rain, hail or shine, facial jewellery is always a wearable element (rings for the nose, brow or tongue), echoing the tattoos in their strategy to contrast the cleanly presented exterior created by the blocked basics being worn. The old faithful beanie is another additive that seems to disregard seasonal appropriateness, finding its way atop the craniums of blondes, brunettes and hairless boys no matter the weather. The finishing-touch footwear is forever a mix of leather and canvas, depending on the leaning of the wearer: Mr. Long Black in the corner may likely live out his dirty rocker dreams through his friends the pointed toe and the Cuban Heel, whereas young student Mr. Flat White on the communal table may be tapping the toe of his Vans to the tune of the indie band that is undoubtedly echoing through the space.
Appropriately, it is most often the baristas of said cafes that lead the pack and represent this cloth-and-coffee driven lifestyle from top to toe. You can find this one (pictured left) along with clusters of other male caff-fiends at Workshop Coffee Co. (formerly St. Ali) in Clerkenwell, London.