We look into the exciting and worrying after a remarkable season.
As the menswear’s Spring/Summer 2017 season comes to an end in Paris, we remember the highlights of London Collections: Men and the positive advances of menswear in Britain for the past year. For the first time, the menswear fashion growth rate overtook womenswear and now accounts for 25% of the British market. The figures from the British Fashion Council states a growth rate of 4.1% (against a 3.7% in womenswear) translated into £14.1 billion in worth to the British fashion market.
Commemorating this historic advancement, menswear ambassadors, designers, journalists and celebrities gathered around 180 Strand, eager to see the SS17 collections. The atmosphere was of celebration of colour and irreverence. Take the invitations, for example: flight tickets for Bobby Abley; photographic effects at Belstaff; iconic medicine bottle at House of Holland and fun ID cards at Christopher Raeburn.
Despite the political debate taking place during the shows, the SS17 men’s collections reflected a much more optimistic scenario. One noticeable aspect is that an increasing number of brands are opting in including womenswear pieces on their catwalks. It certainly brings a lot more creativity in questioning gender roles and identities; and strengthens the presence of unisex clothing. Another highlight was a tangible artistic inspiration influencing the mood boards for the next Spring/Summer.
Some personal favourites include Bobby Abley, which presented its signature sports-casual style with a playful collection featuring its 3rd collaboration with Disney. Berthold’s modern offerings explored volume, lightness and scale inspired by Anish Kapoor’s 2010 Ascension (Red) art piece.
Risqué became chic at Pieter with a joyful collection inspired by contemporaneous gay culture and go-go dancing, in which the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres Untitled (Go-Go Dancing Platform) 1991 took centre stage in the mood board. Christopher Raeburn took us to a space odyssey in a collection inspired by a vision of terrestrial dystopian future portrayed in George Lucas’ THX 1138 and the hope and momentum of the early years of the Race for Space. All brought to life with fabric innovation and sustainability at the core.
Heritage brand BELSTAFF once more upstaged its competitors with a stellar guest list and location: coinciding with Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday luncheon, the brand held their show at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, opposite Westminster Abbey. BELSTAFF’s SS17 collection was inspired by Bruce Brown’s seminal 1971 motorcycle film On Any Sunday.
And then the coolest on the block: House of Holland’s 80s and 90s inspiration was translated into a succinct capsule selection, which could be purchased on the spot: upon downloading an app, guests could hold their smartphones against the outfit and then be directed on to an online shop.
KTZ was probably the most sought after show of the SS17 me’s collections with queues of cool people blocking traffic at Southwark in London. It did feel as if the coolest people on Earth had descended to the place to catch a glimpse of the collection inspired by the dark futurism of interstellar science fiction and the romanticism of celestial maps. Refreshingly, there were no front rows at KTZ, meaning that everyone could have a good view of the collections.
And then, the most uplifting show of all, Sibling: an explosion of colours with its inspiration coming from tropical Miami in a palette of red, cerulean blue against crisp white featuring expert Italian knitwear and cuts that where both daring and wearable. The show ended on a high when designers Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery’ appeared wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “IN”, in reference to the Brexit referendum.
That being before the votes took place, the designers were not the only ones to voice their opinions. According to a survey conducted by the British Fashion Council, which asked designers about their preference to Remain In or Leave the EU, a clear message: 90% of respondents stated their preference to Remain, 4.3% voted to Leave, 2.4% were Undecided and 2.8% stated that they would Not Vote.
Reflecting on the developments that unfolded after the results, a weaker pound could mean higher prices to the consumer as many brands have their production overseas and in Europe. On the other hand, brand such as Christopher Kane, employing European professionals, could also feel the pinch in costs such as visa applications; whereas some British brands showing in European capitals such as Paul Smith and MQ Alexander McQueen showing in Paris and Vivienne Westwood MAN showing in Milan; would also be affected by the costs in Euros and mobility regulations, for example.
However, Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council has released a statement regarding the future of the of British fashion: “We now have a role to play in keeping government updated on our industry’s priorities and keeping the designer community updated on any likely impact to business as our country prepares to leave the EU over the coming years.”
Oh Brexit… After such a positive menswear season, we recoil and wait with breath that is baited.