I recall my first encounter with Benetton like it was yesterday, even though it was more than a decade ago.
On a family trip to New York (during the boom, obvs) my aunties, cousins and I were wandering around the city that never sleeps, spending our Celtic Tiger-converted dollars on clothes to bring back home.
My aunties, purists when it came to the quality of clothing, quickened their pace when they spotted the United Colors of Benetton flagship store on the prestigious 5th Avenue.
I think I remember it so well because of the wall to ceiling rainbow of folded jumpers which awaited us inside, and even today in their Dublin flagship, the iconic kaleidoscope of virgin wool is a key aspect of the store.
My aunties bundled me into the dressing room of the behemoth New York store, buried under a mound of soft fabric and sturdy denim to try on a series of outfits, before I settled on an evergreen turtleneck jumper that genuinely, to this day, is folded up in a drawer in my house, without a loose thread or bobbling texture to be seen.
Granted, it's now folded up in my little sister's drawer rather than mine, and while I wore mine with printed bandanas and low rise jeans (the height of sophistication in my day), she wears it now with high-waisted suede miniskirts and under trendy, sporty outerwear. The longevity of the clothing is undeniable, and the A/W 2018 collection combines that timelessness with updated key trends for the new season.
I went along to Benetton's breakfast showcase this morning, styled by the sartorially scrupulous Laura Mullet, to see what exactly the heritage brand was bringing to the table for the upcoming season.
Along with the classic tailoring and sumptuous but built-to-last fabrics of their basics, the A/W collection incorporates some key contemporary trends into these quality standards.
Starting with the classic jumper – while I saw the rainbow wall in all of it's organised glory, the knits also come in folky, Nordic patterns and almost tie-die effect prints.
Not only were knits getting a splash of print, they were also being knitted in some of this season's most on-trend shades.
Acid green and baby blue were stand outs, as was a mohair zingy orange style that was screaming out to be teamed with a muted plaid trouser and boots.
The jumpers were also given interesting new cuts, with scooped necks and very cropped hems.
The entire collection managed to maintain a very Benetton vibe while pointing to contemporary undertones. The classic Benetton corduroy jeans were there, but in autumnal hues, and stacked alongside super flared jeans – the fashion version of Mom jeans, according to Laura.
Wool shift dresses were given a Clueless makeover with bright plaid prints, and were styled with berets and colourful tights to kep your head and legs cosy.
When print wasn't being utilised, texture came into play in a big way.
Teddy bear coats are a key outerwear piece this year, and while we're used to seeing them in a bomber jacket style in 50 shades of beige, Benetton's adaption is longline, russet brown and belted with leather.
As for the bomber, velvet comes into play in a dusky cornflower blue. While bombers are traditionally boxy, Bentton's has a tailored edge with gathered sleeves and wide lapels.
Trousers came flared or skinny, but always in rich suede, velvets or light denims.
There was no shying away from statement fabrics either, with silk, feathering and sequins all playing their part to create the ultimate capsule of cropped jackets for party season.
Overall the collection is ideal for layering in to any wardrobe, with the tailored elements of the pieces rendering them timeless, allowing then to survive in a sea of fast fashion for seasons to come.