I’ve been aware of the mounting energy in British men’s fashion for about a year, I’d say. A lot of the buzz centres on its leaping revenues and increasing power at retail, and while menswear businesses such as Burberry are growing globally at an unprecedented rate , the real excitement is that the next generation of men’s fashion talent is alive, well and being nurtured in the fashion hothouse that is London. This energy is carefully contained within LC:M, or London Collections for Men. The Spring/Summer 2015 event ends today and in the two short years since its inception it has flowered into an eclectic and refined event that not only represents the old school of classic British tailoring but has become a fantastic platform for emerging talent.
Everyone says “Oh men’s fashion week is SO much more chilled than women’s. Less mental” And its true. It is. Just as guys are more chilled than women, so are their catwalk shows. No hysteria here. The clothes too are right up my street; so much men’s fashion is unisex. Case in point at J.W. Anderson yesterday morning. The show unfolded at an easy pace offering up loosely knotted off-the-shoulder tops, baseball inspired shirts (all so chic for a girl), or jumpers with sites of outstanding beauty of the British countryside knitted into them, such as Cuckmere Haven in East Sussex. I properly loved his take on the baseball shirt, but the point is that men will be enamoured too. These were typically British clothes that baffled and pleased the audience in equal measure; the bafflement is designed in, Mr Anderson likes to challenge. Seeing the confusion of some of the American buyers sitting opposite me on the front row as they tried to work our a knitted corset jumper was fun. Britain does the suited booted thing so well as evidenced at Gieves & Hawkes and Richard James, but what feels new and exciting is the young designers who are expressing themselves on the platform created by LC:M. It is worth looking at Christopher Shannon, Edward Crutchley, Kit Neale, Alex Mullins and even Christopher Kane and Richard Nicoll who are all reinventing and expanding the idea of what fashion for men is.
I was impressed by the work of Alex Mullins an RCA graduate who is on the NEWGEN men scheme. His collection fused a Native American and biker aesthetic into a collection of 28 pieces of patched together, appliquéd, ripped and shredded clothes – jeans, jackets, cartoonish bandanas, board shorts – decorated with what appeared to be hand-painted daubs of Native art, just the thing for the Californian Burning Man festival. Turns out this was screen printed, but says Alex “these are clothes designed to be worn as if you are living off the grid. Its about wearing the clothes, and also what happens when we wear them in. I like the feeling of clothes as friends.” His ripped denim jacket conceals a second jacket design which as the shredded outer layer wears away, reveals the new one. “Eventually, it becomes another jacket,:” says Mullins. Very #craft of use. Edward Crutchley is the fabric and textile designer for Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton, and it is Kim who pushed Edward to joint the LC:M fray by becoming part of Fashion East. His textile designs for SS15 are quite incredible interpretations of Asian textile art from across Indonesia to Japan. One designer you won’t see here is Craig Green whose debut standalone show this morning was the highlight of LC:M, we’ve done a separate post on him. True Fashion Moments are rarer than hens teeth and London Mens Collection experienced one this morning.
At Kane’s showroom yesterday I was struck but how fully realised the collection was with its range of bags including a weekender, tote and rucksack and slip on sneakers with more than a nod to Hush Puppies. Also how closely aligned to the fashion spirit of the women’s line too. Looking at it laid out in an art gallery complete with 3-d page print T-shirts, reflective utility coat and some sharp tailoring, showed how the Kanes will be rocking it when they open their retail venture later this year on Mount Street. Joseph’s menswear struck me as perfect fashion for men. For me the playfulness of the new kid menswear designers stood out. Kit Neale played with vintage Coca Cola and aeroplane prints, while Bobby Abley put cartoon faces on his sweatshirts. Enjoy the highlights.