London Fashion Week Men’s, or LFWM, for those in the know, seemed to have a bounce of energy after a few flat seasons. We’ve got used to no big names and a lack of investment and, now, it is, what it is. Enjoy it.
London is the city of ideas. It’s the city of newness and also the historical home of menswear.
We’re coming to the end of the cycle for the retro sportswear and ugly, Balenciaga-type fashion, and the forthcoming men’s fashion weeks, including London, will be about looking to see the options for their replacement. Will tailoring be back? Denim? Preppy? Over the next month or so, we’ll get more of an idea what, if anything, will be replacing the current fugly look.
I’ve found the big question I’ve been asking myself, during the past few days, is, what exactly is ‘commercial’ in 2018? In a post-Gucci world anything is commercial, almost the louder the better, and this is where London could really run and dominate this new definition of commerciality.
Admittedly, you still need to make something people want and can buy, but the scope is the largest it’s been for a very long time. Commercial was once safe, now, it’s just whether your idea or cartoon character or slogan is what the consumer wants at that moment in time. It’s very hard to predict, which brings me to another point about the spring/summer season. SS19 may hit stores in January, but anything warm weather will only get worn, visibly, around about now. People expect to buy now, today, that’s 12 months ahead and so many designers sent collections down which are very ‘now’, but I’m not so sure they’ll be as relevant in 12 months time. I’m looking at you Triple S trainers!
That’s a long time in fashion. Anyway, here’s who and what you need to know for SS19:
British designer, James Long, brought his Italian Iceberg collection to London for the first time. This had Long’s signature play with knitwear, but with Italy’s manufacturing polish. You could picture each and every one of these clothes hanging on a rail and in-store tomorrow.
The current fascination with cartoon characters was there. There was a mash-up between F1 and Snoopy, and while the sportswear fashion cycle is finishing (soon!), there are plenty of takers for comfort, still.
Iceberg, as a brand, hasn’t been over exposed in the logo/branding segment yet, so much to play with. Lots of full look colour and, with a big name like ‘Iceberg’, it was never a brand to disappear into the background.
Daniel Fletcher had a play with short, tailored jackets and long, side-poppered trousers ending in open flares, which made the models look about 7ft tall. It was almost freakish proportions and lost some of its elegance, especially at a time when shorter jackets are starting to look a little dated. Standout items included silk shirts – or maybe they were very sheer cotton – featuring breasts and rope designs, while in accessorises briefcases were emblazoned with ‘Danny’, from a designer who has the potential to give us more desirable pieces.
This was Sharon Wauchob’s first men’s collection and she’d teamed up with Savile Row tailors, Norton & Sons, owned by E Tautz’s Patrick Grant, to finesse the tailoring.
The Irish designer showed, in ethereal surroundings, All Saints, just off Oxford Street, a collection that perfectly complemented the backdrop. This was one of the highlights of the entire week and the most grown up, yet it felt contemporary, desirable and luxurious, in the old fashion sense of the word.
Standouts were the super-creased shirts with silver threading and a sheer evening shirt showing off this season’s new erogenous zone, the male back.
A sea of ugly trainers sat down to watch the Liam Hodges collection. Feeling ‘Crapped Out’, it was a play with bad taste – British roast pork tan lines and tribal face tattoos, anyone? – but, there was plenty to buy into – the sports socks and badges – and even a Gucci-type hibiscus homage which was decidedly less polished and more interesting. Best thing I’ve seen from him.
While the temperature on Floral Street for Qasimi’s show climbed, so did the colour palette on the catwalk. Lots of oranges in earthy and spice tones played with larger shapes and Arabic slogan hoodies referenced the designer’s background. There’s a growing momentum to the Qasimi brand.
Part of the Topman-sponsored ‘MAN’ show, Stefan Cooke, in his second outing here, went from his super-tight, Gaultier style AW18 season to something, while still fitted, that played with hype-colour tartans, half ruffs on the necks and small mirrors dotted randomly across the pieces. Winner of the H&M designer prize in 2017, Cooke, from the UK, is a designer to continue watching.
Part of the BFC Showrooms and also with a presentation at Charing Cross Library, Bethany Williams took inspiration from all those books and book binding and managed to thread real, physical paperbacks into her SS19 collection. Working with The Quaker Mobile Library, which lend books to people with no fixed address, her collection showed the hands-on, painstaking craft element to fashion.
Mullins is on a roll. His AW18 collection was one of the best of the season and, this, the new SS19, had plenty of ideas to keep you wanting more. Standouts include rock shaped portfolio bags and asymmetric slashed shirts showing just a glimpse of the shoulder. 2019, the year of the male shoulder, maybe?!
If expensive looking black bin bags are your thing, then Berthold could be the place to look. I’m just joking, but the fascination with anything black and shiny seems to be taking hold within menswear and Raimund Berthold is running with it. He showed plenty for AW18 and, now, this was the summer version. Think parachute light black coats and matching accessorises in a sport-luxe – there, I said it! – collection for those who like fashion as uniform.
Martine Rose took us to Norf London, St Leonards Square in NW5 to be exact, which looked perfect for street parties and carnivals. This was working class Victorian square with no fancy greenery in the middle, no even Albert Square sized.
The catwalk was the road and the neighbours looked on, perched on their front garden walls or down quizzically from an upstairs window while doing the tea-time washing up.
This was the show of the week for a designer that waited for fashion to come to them. Now, with her own label and working on Balenciaga’s menswear, Rose has become a chief exponent of fashion’s obsession with bad taste.
There was plenty here, but it’s done in a way that’s still desirable. How much it has left to run is anybody’s guess, but I don’t think the retailers are getting bored. I saw a new ‘hybrid’ – because we all love one of those – a half-jean, half-trackie trouser – rodeo at the front, scally at the back!
Rose’s 90s ‘Geezer’ was going out, out; clear plastic trousers, squared-toed snakeskin chain loafers with no backs and Motorcross trousers with loud taping will definitely get you noticed. This was ‘Out-On-The-Tann’ man, probably down to his local boozer, looking to impress and living it up with gold chains, tucked in shirts and smart-ish shoes. I still want in.
Judging by the queue, Jeffrey, and his gang of club kids, is still the golden ticket for East London menswear. The status even matches his yellow hair job.
The catwalk featured dancers and props, which looked like they were there for the marriage of Sarah Brightman to that Starship Trooper she fell in love with.
Metres of tin foil and oxygen pipes mingled with men’s, women’s and anything-in-between wear in a collection which looked more accomplished and retail than ever before.
A standout was a denim jacket and matching jeans and also his tailoring for the contemporary Westwood-type customer.
Jeffrey just needs to be careful the amateurish elements don’t take the focus away from the important stuff, but the new push to way-out-there commercial certainly suits his design sensibilities.
Marcus Jaye is Founder & Creative Director of www.thechicgeek.co.uk