London Collections: Men more united than ever
Menswear in the UK is increasingly gaining momentum. The third edition of London Collections: Men took place from 16 to 18 June and saw a new level of solidarity between its diverse participants. With no less than 30 runway shows and almost as many presentations, London might not be rivaling Paris just yet, but it is certainly giving Milan a run for its money with its 37 scheduled shows.
"From Savile Row to punks, we invented it all"
Boasting names like Burberry, Alexander McQueen and Paul Smith, London is sending a strong and powerful message to the fashion world. “From Savile Row to punks, we invented it all,” declared Dylan Jones, editor of British GQ, the event’s chairman since its inception. Burberry, Rag & Bone and Jimmy Choo are amongst several brands that decided to return to British territory this season and be part of the media frenzy that surrounds LC:M. And the event was ripe with celebrity appearances with Serena Williams (seen at Burberry), model David Gandy (seen everywhere) and Hip-hop star Tinnie Tempah all showing their faces.
Will London forever be at the epicentre of media hype or will it evolve into a real business breeding ground? “London is the financial capital of Europe,” said Caroline Rush, the British Fashion Council’s elegant CEO. “There is no reason why it shouldn’t become an international place of business in fashion.”
Nevertheless, the London event isn’t likely to eclipse Paris any time soon. “We love Paris,” continued Caroline Rush. “It is both pleasant and practical to have a reason to visit for the collections,” she smiled, notably not sharing her opinion on Milan. “London Collections: Men still needs to grow and grow,” said Dylan Jones. “We hope that will happen.”
Diversity on the runway
In terms of style, two seemingly contradictory movements emerged - both in perfect symbiosis with British heritage which is known for being both formal and experimental. Brands from Savile Row came together for a spectacular presentation of 100 models at the Lord’s cricket ground, with the support of Woolmark, famed wool supplier for established heritage and emerging brands alike. Longstanding veteran brand Gieves and Hawkes – whose main point of sale remains its historic Savile Row flagship - unveiled a casual collection rich with accessories for the modern gentleman.
Sportwear, prints and logomania were amongst the most recurring trends served up by young designers who mostly benefit from the support of Topman, eBay and FashionEast. Spotted on the runway were tracksuits with lace cut-out details by Astrid Andersen, sheer fabrics at Shaun Samson and Sibling and imaginative sporting accessories at Nasir Mazhar. These young, emerging designers benefit from unconditional support from reputable London press outlets such as i-D, Dazed & Confused, 10 magazine and their various descendants.
This fresh young vibe that London has to offer is not something easily found at the French and Italian equivalent events, with the exception perhaps of Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and 3.1 Phillip Lim who, over the past few seasons, have incorporated street references into their collections.
For one Parisian buyer, one show in particular was “a distortion of a bourgeois vision of masculinity, in total disaccord with reality.” However, this sentiment is not necessarily resonated throughout the industry, with several specialty multi-brand stores popping up, notably Machine-A in Soho. International support for these divisive brands manifested itself as a group of buyers from Tokyo store GR8, who applauded the collections from the front row at each show.
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