Usually, this would be the perfect occasion to highlight how it is that exciting time of the year again where all eyes are magnetically drawn to London Fashion Week Men’s, formerly known as London Collections: Men, and its eclectic runways, full of ambitious clothing interwoven with way more than just seams and threads. But with the possibility of Brexit threatening the UK’s and especially London’s creative scene for almost a year now, saying that the British capital is only just becoming the centre of attention again would be far from the truth.
Still, there’s more than good reason to especially now set our eyes on London, as fashion designers have been less than shy of voicing their political believes and urge for the country and the whole of Europe to stay together – in particular through their designs. With London’s reputation of nurturing some of the most daring and thought provoking designers to this date – just think Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Grace Wales Bonner – the upcoming S/S 18 round of LFWM, to be held from the 9th of June until the 12th, is sure to be questioning a variety of wrongfully established and rightfully threatening forms and norms – may they be political or personal. Get ready for the most boundary pushing creatives of this year’s LFWM, rounded up below.
Ka Wa Key
“Soft” is the word you’d probably first associate with Ka Wa Key‘s designs, maybe even “tender”, “delicate”. The clothes of the Royal College of Art graduate are a perfect pastel color study – and at least as intriguing is the question they propose: The idea of masculinity and sexual identity in relation to Asian men. In his previous collections Key explored the idea of Chinese men dressing in traditionally Western clothes to seduce European men, transmitted through his signature dream like shades and shapes. With everything crafted in-house in London, Key intertwines his Asian roots and his current reality, carefully questioning cultural constructs in a more than aesthetically appealing way.
Socks, longer than the people wearing them, gloves sewn onto sweaters, and temporary tattoos featuring old-school mirrors or Nokia phones – welcome to the appealingly abstract vision of James Theseus Buck and Luke Brook, creative masterminds behind conceptual fashion project Rottingdean Bazaar. Showing under Fashion East’s MAN umbrella this season, the Rottingdean based duo is set to once again disassemble what one might expect from objects or clothes. Fittingly, Buck and Brook say they don’t view Rottingdean Bazaar as a clothing label in the first place but rather as a shop, displaying everything that puts the fun into fashion – and with an industry so often fixated on its seriousness, that approach might just be one of the most rebellious acts there is.
Looking to British street culture and the landscape of youth today, A-Cold-Wall* presents itself as the visual counterpart to the goings-on of the scenes that have long held a distinct impact on the social and cultural changes happening to the country. With founder Samuel Ross, who showed A-Cold-Wall*’s first collection just last season in London, being an Off-White, Hood By Air, and Stüssy alumni, the young brand not only seems perfectly prepared in reviving London’s rebellious spirit, but also visibly benefits from Ross’ diverse work experience. The former creative assistant to Virgil Abloh is taking the idea of fashion beyond clothes, with influences coming from illustration, graphic design, and experiences in advertising, making him the epitome of a new idea of the head of a fashion label: the curator as designer.
Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY
Charles Jeffrey draws from a place many great fashion designers went to dwell on inspiration: Night clubs, and their felt freedom of expression. For A/W 17 he mixed political statements with historical references, showing cocoon like figures painted with a blurred version of the U.S. flag along delicate men as kings or aristocrats. Infused with a shared sense of uncertainty, the former threatening, the latter liberating, Jeffrey’s designs are evidence of an approach to fashion not manifested by a mood-board but its real life counterpart. With that, the Scottish born and Central Saint Martins educated designer has quickly made a name for himself since his MA graduate collection in 2015, fuelling the fashion world with a recurring sense of righteous rebelliousness.
A progressive take on masculinity has been something explored by more and more designers in recent seasons, with the topic often adjusted to each creative’s unique background and experiences. For design duo Danshan, consisting of founders Dan and Shan, that personal relation lies in Dan’s upbringing in China, where, as a result of the country’s one-child policy that forbids parents to have more than one kid, she was raised and presented as a boy. Reminiscent of that experience the designers of Danshan now have developed their own take on the country’s strict ideas of gender roles and the pieces clothing them – and let’s just say, they consist of way more ideas than just one.
Featured image courtesy JARNO LEPPANEN