It took some time, but it’s finally here. My recap and thoughts on some of the shows and presentations I attended during London Fashion Week Men’s Spring/Summer 18. I went to 31 shows, events, presentations and parties during four days, so this is only a highlight of what I sometimes liked and sometimes didn’t. They are not listed chronologically, rather they are listed alphabetically in order to be fair (well, somewhat).
Band of Outsiders had a really different presentation from any I’ve been to, so as a first review it is somewhat unfair not to show any more pictures from it, but I assure you more of this brand will come later. The presentation was held at a stand up comedy club where the comedians had 10 minutes each and while making jokes, were wearing the brand’s clothing. They even made jokes about not being models, but in my opinion the clothes fit them perfectly. However it is hard to show more of their casual athleisure wear, so I urge you to go to their homepage to check them out to get a grip of what’s going on with this talented brand.
Belstaff named their SS18 collection Paris to Dakar and the collection is without doubt inspired by the legendary race taking place between the two cities. Taking inspiration from the late 70s and early 80s era, the rally was less about the race and more a voyage of self-discovery, with riders needing courage and fortitude to complete the journey, never knowing what was to greet them around the next corner. This sense of the unpredictable is very much represented in this collection, rich in multi-seasonal technological innovation, mixing luxurious fabrics and bold prints with functionality. The many countries and terrains the rally passed through provided the perfect inspiration for Belstaff to showcase new modular, lightweight and highly technical styles that are protective and wearable in all climates.
Berthold. I’ve met the lovely Raimund Berthold on a number of occasions from Copenhagen to London and my admiration for him and his clothing doesn’t just stop at the gorgeous fabric. For SS18 he explores the crucial transition from boy to man, drawing influences regarding that procedure from many cultures. Despite differences some things remain the same. There’s a flawed confidence and a false sense of manly power and pride. This collection considers these awkward contrasts and playfully lifts an important issue in modern society as well as historically. When does the transition happen? I’d say the transition never has to happen and keeping some boyishness while being a man is quite vitalizing. Equally vital is the use of colors which Berthold introduces into this collection. Yay to yellow.
Blood Brother is a brand close to my heart for many reasons and hence deserve two sheets of pictures. Their SS18 collection was presented during a huge nostalgia trip to anyone who was a kid in the 90s and the invite came in form of a floppy disk and they must have spent months bingeing for all the old office material on display at the presentation. The collection is called LOGIN and abscond from our current reality, as a form of escapism from our increasingly negative and harmful environment that is the modern and self-inflicted human experience. The collection is an abstract look at our immediate future and the way we are currently treating and subsequently destroying our planet. With certain global leaders calling global warming a ‘hoax’ our planets natural resources may soon be fantasy, and it may not be long before we will have to disappear online to seek what we desire. A feeling of dystopia is running through the collection as well as the presentation, but as an optimist I choose to take a stand by wearing their clothes to change this possible outcome of the future. Well done BB!
Bobby Abley actually gets two sheets too, as I can’t decide on what to show you really. The exuberance of youth is present even in his collection which I’d normally give thumbs up without even seeing it as I’m a big fan of Mr Abley, but here he pays tribute to and collaborates with Teletubbies for their 20th anniversary and draws inspiration from them, but also looks back to the music and nightlife of his teen years and early twenties (by this I guess we’re about the same age). First of all, I never have and never will like The Teletubbies, but I do adore the colors that cover the runway collection and the playfulness coming out of it. That I do applaud as I’m a firm believer in more color and basically every look made me smile and sometimes even laugh. What didn’t make me laugh however is the upper middle outfit. Why, oh why, did Bobby need to do a sellout? Every major designer and retailer seems to release something similar to the yet not even released collaboration, Supreme x Louis Vuitton. Was that really necessary, Bobby, like really?
BODYBOUND calls its SS18 collection “We shall not wilt” which draws inspiration from protest marches, anti war slogans and flower power movements. This is in my opinion not imminent on the catwalk, but what is even more so is the fact that the collection juxtaposes machismo with femininity and blurs out the lines between the two without cutting either short. Instead of military boots, 70s platforms and peace symbols are used and a beautiful idea is somewhat not conveyed through the collection, despite it being a beautiful one if one does not know the inspiration to it.
Christopher RÆBURN does have quite a compelling story behind his SS18 collection. The inspiration is taken from ‘The Long Walk’ by Slavomir Rawicz which is an epic story of adventure and survival tracing a 4000-mile journey from Siberia to india traversing the Gobi Desert to the rocky extremes of the Himalaya’s. I don’t think I need to go on. We all get that this collection is about exceptional materials including pre-flown kites, authentic 1940s battledress denim jackets which are reworked and lightweight tulle to name a few. I do adore this collection however and every season Ræburn introduces a new mascot and true to the theme of the collection, this season has a cute jerboa, a hopping desert rodent, embellished on some of the pieces. That detail alone makes me want this really bad.
Harry Xu‘s take on the romanticised masculinity is quite adorable really. Here you put the hottest models out there right now wearing that looks like something like QEII would wear on a day off and they most certainly pull it off, but I’m not sure your everyday man would. The idea is beautiful however. Experimenting with what we all consider to be the boundaries of the ‘man’, familiar shapes are modernised and challenged with romantically playful embroidery. The mirror effect acrylic is a metaphor for the tough appearance we can all use to protect ourselves and I’m not saying this collection isn’t working. It’s just hard to pull off if you’re not Jordy.
Harrys of London presented its Spring Summer ’18 collection at London Fashion Week Men’s in quite an extravagant manner. The brand has evolved a lot during a very short timespan and has evolved into a luxury travel accessory brand, premium shoe maker and into my favorite part, making sneakers out of this world. In a miniature London Eye and a magical garden, shoes were displayed in all the colors of the rainbow and this brand is serious sneaker heaven. To enter through the gates of heaven will cost you a bit though, but it’s all worth it. (Shot by ©Gary Morrisroe)
JOHN LAWRENCE SULLIVAN, where the name of the brand is an homage to a legendary boxer , embodies traits like strength, personality, dignity and never backing down from a challenge. The bedrock of the clothing Yanagawa makes lies in tailoring accentuated by edgy styles that incorporate traditional elements. His creations have a magnetism that originates in the concept of a masculine image that is both powerful and elegant at the same time. Making up a word “Kafkaeske” that could be found on several prints is somewhat contradictional to this however as kafkaesque actually means “a nightmarish situation which most people can somehow relate to, although strongly surreal”. The show was everything short of a nightmare however with great pieces, despite the fact that I’m still not sold on the overly wide trousers.
John Smedley is as British as it gets. It is a luxury brand creating iconic knitwear. Founded in 1784, for over 200 years John Smedley has designed, manufactured and produced innovative, contemporary knitwear of the highest quality. Combining traditional techniques with the latest technology to produce luxurious, hand finished garments distributed the world over. I don’t have much more to say about this than the fact that I’ll buy whatever Jordy Gerritsma (yup, he had to double in this one) wears.
KTZ is one of my favorites. This is the only collection where I’ll actually let the press release speak for itself: This collection’s story is an interpretation of the Literature of Lord of the Flies. We join the boys tale when they are already established on the island. The presentation of their clothes reflects the remnants of their old world and new beginnings. Their smart conservative fabrics slowly patched over and disappearing is reflective of their old way of life becoming lost and faded, the badges of past achievements and group identities that represented an old order giving way to the the wild nature they find themselves in, and the new identities of their clothes are formed from the discarded debris abandoned to the shores, they stitch together their clothes with silver threads and bottle tops and raw leathers, symbolising new identities and forming brave new worlds.The dark earthy colours of the old order peppered with the bright materials of the hope to come, and still a raw authentic rebellious essence remains, untamed. Oh, and below my buddy Reuben Chapman is in a close-up backstage showing the can tops which have been stitched together. Absolutely love it.
Nicholas Daley made his debut at LFWM with the collection ‘Madras’ and the presentation was head to toe soaking in the concept. Due to his dual heritage, Nicholas has a deep interest in cross-cultural exchange as well as the historically significant binary of music and style (hence a sitar player was sitting in the middle of the room during the presentation). Combining his admiration for both British craftsmanship as well as South Asia and its textiles Nicholas has made a powerful debut.
Nigel Cabourn‘s SS18 collection is titled “Whatever happened to Sean Flynn?” and it took me quite a while to figure out “Who the hell is Sean Flynn?”, but I should have read the press release as that explained he among other things was Errol Flynn’s son. How that is connected to the collection itself is somewhat way too complicated to explain, really, so I’ll go on to the actual collection where men’s and unisex styles include pants, shorts, jackets and a lightweight coat with the women’s collection featuring dresses, jackets and pants. As ever, hardware details and fabric and are key and Nigel has worked closely with international textile designer, Riccardo Bruni to produce special fabrics. These include double sided camo with faded ‘nam green one side and faded blue on the other, which features strongly throughout the collection as well as cotton mesh, double-sided cotton gabardine and denim.
Phoebe English Man had a creative presentation as always and I thoroughly enjoyed the blue theme that was going on. They hope to raise a respect for construction rather than decoration and bring a new dimension to young London design, something I find adorable and very, very ambitious as well, as bringing a new dimension to young London design is somewhat of an impossible task. However, Phoebe English does have a fresh take on this and I’m listening.
PRONOUNCE presented by GQ China both marks GQ China’s ongoing collaboration and presence at LFWM and this time PRONOUNCE was introduced to the growing list of Chinese menswear brands to show internationally and that by all rights and means necessary. It’s a high end designer brand based in Milan and Shanghai and the collections is about the interstice and shades between cloths’ layers inspired by east and west esthetics on shadows. Add some color to that and I’m sold for sure. Thrilled to see more coming from this talented duo!
Qasimi is yearning for simpler times in response to today’s bombardment of information and technology, so SS18 looks into the past to reimagine a new future. Blending craftsmanship with new technologies, the movements of the nomadic Bedouin tribes of the Middle East are explored and juxtaposed with modern military parachute fabrications and stitching techniques. The colors range from Rhubarb, Sienna, Pink Sand, Thyme, Overcast, Khaki, Pale Blue, Mint Stripe, Pomegranate Stripe, Granite and Pinecone and add a splash of Jordy and you’ll know what I think.
Songzio from South Korea is all about stripes and as I’m all about stripes, I’m all about Songzio. The SS18 collection entitled “Crossing Veils” is inspired by the phrase: ‘Man, in his night, searches for his own light’. Behind the bar-like vertical lines, the playful and scratch like horizontals make their best emotional effort to protrude. The sensitivity of the brand’s protagonist searching for his emotions, is the essence of this season’s designs. In the essence of everything if you ask me. Way to go!
TOPMAN is more or less an institution and basically was my first stop whenever I went to London in my teens and early twenties. In my eyes they have formed the street style of an entire generation. This season they were celebrating 5 years of LFWM with an exhibition and event featuring 5 collaborators, 5 films, a TOPMAN Designs presentation and one hell of a location which made me feel like I was in hipster heaven (not sure I want to end up there though) in and old factory building. Showing us they’re still ahead, despite their high street price tag, I’m still in awe.
Being in awe is a great way to end this recap of London Fashion Week Men’s and that pretty much sums my experience. London is one of my second homes after all and I’m glad London is so creative, so tolerant, so cutting edge and so full of love. I know who my fave was, but who was your favorite out of these?