There’s a bitter chill in London, but the fog has finally risen paving the way. London’s 180 The Strand has opened its doors alongside the Old Selfridges Hotel and several other locations for fashion to emerge at full force.
Menswear is a growing market, up by by 4.1% in 2015 with an estimation that by 2020, the menswear business will reach a high of £17.3billion (up by 22.5 %). As menswear keeps growing nationally and globally, we are seeing LFWM take more of a forefront in the industry alongside London Fashion Week.
Taking place in the heart of London, this biannual showcase of menswear was inevitably opened by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. The event was also renamed.
“[LFWM is a] truly international celebration of fashion, design and creativity” – Sadiq Khan
If a name change wasn’t enough, this season also sees the return of Vivienne Westwood who has been showing in Milan for the past ten years. Westwood returned whilst combining Red Label (women’s) and Man Label (men’s) into one brand, named ‘Vivienne Westwood’; all of which to be unveiled at LFWM. Launching also this season is the ‘Model Zone’ – a space ensuring the health and wellbeing of all models during LFWM and LFW which comes complete with a relaxing site, food, drink and an on-site therapist.
Over recent years, there has been more talk of blurring the lines between womenswear and womenswear. In part, it has been part of a global movement delving into gender neutrality and gender specific clothing. In another part, it’s stylistic choice. But blending menswear and womenswear on the catwalk is more prominent than ever. Astrid Andersen and Casely Hayford, YMC and Christopher Raeburn are but some of the designers blending the lines.
Day one scarcely over and already the catwalks have excelled.
At Topman, neons, denim, leather, graphic logos and PVC made for a rave-ready collection. Xander Zhou showed us heavy coats, to off-the-shoulder styles and cropped shirts. His prominent androgynous style paraded the catwalk with metallic outerwear, bags and high waisted trousers, coming together in a burst of primary colour and fuzzy detailing.
Barbour, by necessity, focussed on the classics- the celebrated jacket. And with a twist, by artist, Robert Montgomery, jackets were embellished with quotes, one being: “In the silence of your bones and eyes… Forgotten magic sits and waits … for fire”. The presentation was all about nostalgia and the future.
The past, present and future of Barbour International was the focus, as the 80 year-old motorcycle was on show, as well as a few history lessons. First made available to customers in 1947 after the war, the jackets reflect the past as well as remaining fresh and contemporary. The four customised Barbour International Original Wax Jackets were up for the win via the newly launched snapchat (BarbourInt).
Phoebe English’s presentation, with a collection made entirely in the UK, showed us men at work. Washing the clothes, drying on them on the rack, ironing and folding the sheets- because men do it too. A piece of theatre and a possible nod to English’s dramatic background and almost-career. Navy tones, long lengths, velvets, corduroys and an amalgamation of sportswear meeting business-wear, come together to form a wearable collection.
For all children of the nineties, Bobby Abley had the fashionable answer- Dinosaurs and Power Rangers. Broken up, merged, mismatched, coloured and silhouetted. Paired with one another and placed on varying fabrics and in differing colours, the collection was far from childish and was a great way to lead Abley’s collection from Catwalk to store with the brand’s first straight-to-store collection at Selfridges.
Such a small proportion of LFWM has made an impact thus far, and day one is over having had 20 separate showcases (including the opening), films, shows and other events. With far more to come, all one can do is anticipate what London has to offer.
London Fashion Week Men’s is on until Monday 9th January.