Something in fashion will always come along to push you out of your comfort zone. It’s a good thing. After seeing the SS20 pleated dresses for men at Louis Vuitton - pictured below - I thought I was ready for some pleats. Add in the kilt tradition, plus Dior’s now signature side sash and the timing feels right.
COS has this half kilt - a full kilt would probably use too much fabric and be too expensive - but it gives you that Dior side-sash look.
An Asian man stopped me in the street in this and asked me if it was ‘cultural’. Must be the red hair!
You do really need to get the matching trousers, but it’s something dressy, yet different and would look great at a dinner or smart winter party.
Left, Right & Below Left - COS - Pleated Wool Kilt - £115
Disclosure Trousers & Kilt #Gifted by COS
Below - Dior Men, Below Right - Louis Vuitton SS20
Maybe it was the summer season, or a sign of the times, but Copenhagen was noticeably quieter in terms of visitors and brands. Both major trade shows, Revolver and CIFF, felt emptier than previous seasons with many brands, both large and small, missing.
Regardless, there was still plenty to take note of and get us excited for the SS20 menswear season. So, here goes:
A womenswear trend from a few summers ago, there’s been a distinctive uptake by guys on social media of the humble string bag. Despite all your worldly goods being on display, the string bag is the cool reusable shopper. These from Danish brand, Épice, are the designer version with the price to match. Established in 1999 by the Danish designers Bess Nielsen and Jan Machenhauer, it offers also a range of printed bags and knitwear made in Italy. Around €70 for a bag.
Left - Épice string bags
Real Fun Fur
It was inevitable that the fun fur movement would touch menswear at some point. But, for those worried that fun-fur/vegan just equals more plastic in the world, new Scandi coat brand, Bobby Rocky, uses woven wool - no sheep were harmed in the making - to create a range of coats. This full shaggy overcoat retails for around for a reasonable €600.
Right - Bobby Rocky wool fun fur
Wishful thinking, designer, Joohyung You, looks at peace between North and South Korea for the SS20 season. This former footballer, who played for German teams, launched his label Freiknock in 2013. This season sees cute peace bears, North Korean propaganda imagery and tailoring inspired by the wardrobe of Kim Jong Un.
Left & Right - Freiknock
The Dutch slang for water or rain, this raincoat brand has ingenious side zippers that allow the jacket to go up over your bike. Maium’s rainwear is produced from recycled plastic bottles, does not contain any harmful substances and is said to be manufactured under fair, safe and healthy working conditions. Around €135 for a coat.
Left - Maium raincoat
The third season from this New York based menswear brand. Creative Director, Terrence Williams, previously a shoe designer with Creative Recreation, with experience spent at Thom Browne, teamed up with English designer, Joshua Fronda, “to develop a playful modern adaptation to subculture classics which became Agent”.
Left - Agent
Based on Old Street roundabout, this multi-brand retailer is pushing its own brand label of £60 tees and tops amongst its list of independent designer brands and trying to keep up with the ever-evolving streetwear consumer.
Left - Ejder
A graduate of Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Singaporean designer, Zheqiang Zhang, won the ‘Euro Fashion Award’ in 2018. His label, Pseudonym, is a mix of stunning silk scarves and trench coats incorporating further striking designs.
Right & Below - Pseudonym
With a store in Copenhagen, Uncle Bright mixes 50s Americana with the philosophy that all garments are created to be worn with a functional yet stylish purpose
Uncle Bright says it is happy to wallow in nostalgia and never looks forward for inspiration. Most worthy of note is the handmade footwear. Manufactured in Spain at a factory with more than 100 years of experience, every single boot goes through minimum 200 different stages in production.
Left & Below Left - Uncle Bright
In our modern age you have two hipster artistic choices; Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo? Well, Amsterdam based brand, Daily Paper, has teamed up their Dutch icon, Van Gogh. Knowing their irises from their sunflowers, this capsule collection in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a painterly hit on shirts, jackets and jeans.
Left & Below - Van Gogh Museum X Daily Paper
See Paris Menswear Trade Show Report - Here
I saw these this time last year at the Revolver Trade Show in Copenhagen, and I made a desired mental note to watch out for them. I clearly forgot… So again, I saw the same shirts just last week, at the same fair, and they still look just as good. It turns out they’re a best seller having already sold out in Liberty.
These thick towelling summer shirts are almost a shacket and perfect for straight out of the water. The OAS brand is named after the Swedish founder, Oliver Adam Sebastian, and was born as a result of his numerous trips to the family’s summer house in Barcelona.
These are currently sold out, but Oliver informs me they’re going to be delivered in October and you can register on the website to be notified.
It looks like we’re already planning summer 2020 or a maybe perfect excuse for a winter sun break?
Left - OAS - Banana Leaf Terry Shirt - €99.90
Below - OAS - Palmy Terry Shirt - €99.90
Good menswear is all about timing. Knowing exactly where we are right now and where we’re going next is paramount to design sophisticated product which resonates. It’s intuitive and is the sign of a great designer.
Left - Mans Concept Menswear's Jaime Alvarez
Hitting the mark and making menswear waves is 25 years old Barcelona Fashion Week star, Jaime Alvarez. His label ‘Mans Concept Menswear’ has quickly become the hot ticket of Barcelona, winning Best Emerging Designer multiple times, and offers a combination of dressy yet cool menswear which wouldn’t look out of place on Harry Styles or any red carpet.
"Everyone believes that MANS comes from man, but, it actually comes from my grandpa’s german surname ‘Demans’,” says Alvarez. “My grandpa is the person I admire the most, he made me appreciate a good suit and taught me how important it is in men’s dressing.
“I covert finely constructed clothes made from good fabrics that last a lifetime.” he says. “But, I look for more relaxed tailoring for everyday life.”
Alvarez founded Mans Concept Menswear in 2018 straight after graduating from the Istituto Europeo Di Design (IED Madrid) in 2017.
“I've always had the idea of creating my own brand.” he says. “Everything started two years into my final project where I presented twelve looks under my brand concept.” he says. “I’d found an enormous gap in menswear between the classic tailor’s suit to an extravagant design that I personally believe no one would wear on the daily life, so I believed that there would be a place for MANS.”
Right - Mans Concept Menswear SS20
Huma Humayun, Fashion & Features Editor, Schön! magazine says, “The brand is definitely one to watch. Jaime is not only the most exciting young designer at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week, but holds his own amongst much more experienced and established brands.”
Humayun was on the judging panel when Mans Concept Menswear won Best Emerging Designer for the third time at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week in February, 2019. “It was simply the strongest collection, both in terms of originality and, I believe, commercial viability.” she says. “Perhaps it was not as 'commercial' in the traditional sense as some of the other collections in that category, but to compete on an international stage, one must also bring something fresh to the table.” says Humayun.
Proudly Spanish, Mans Concept Menswear is made entirely made in Spain in a little atelier in Madrid, except the shirts, that are made in Seville, Alvarez’s home town. There are four people in his team and seven more working at the ateliers.
Based around tailoring, Alvarez, is trying to push the boundaries of masculinity yet with very beautiful clothes. “Masculinity is an attitude whether you wear an ostrich feather shirt or an anthracite grey blazer. We decontextualise fabrics that from the beginning are for women and use in menswear pieces without losing the virility and masculinity.” he says.
For his AW19 collection Alvarez took to India for inspiration and, his latest collection, SS20, it was all about a night in Vienna.
“I get my inspiration from many different places; from guys I see on the street in my hometown in Sevilla, La Luisana. There I design the majority of the collections, but it's curious because it’s far from Andalusian folklore, but there are pieces with a southern see through inspiration.” says Alvarez. “I take a lot of inspiration from fabrics, normally, I investigate fabrics and from there, the sketches.” he says.
Alvarez doesn’t garner much inspiration from the current menswear market and looks to the old masters. “I’m tired of sportswear, etc.” he says. “I love to have references from artistic tendencies and iconic dressmakers as Cristobal Balenciaga. His skill with fabrics and patterns still have me fascinated.”
Just shown at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week in June 2019, his latest collection ‘A Night In Vienna’ was a confection of brooding tailoring with sheer pieces and elegant satin sashes.
“With this collection we were looking for a maturity on the patterns as well as in the couture through the details compared to our other collections.” says Alvarez. “This time, the MANS man travels to Vienna to be captivated and nourish himself on the romanticism that involves not just the art and the culture in the Austrian capital, but in the minimalistic and solemn way of opera and music conservatories.
Left - Mans Concept Menswear AW19
“This collection is more focused on details; lined blazers in white poplin instead of the classic lined tailoring. The flaps are full of eyelets, trousers topped with mini satin flaps and waterfall fringing.” he says.
“It's a collection that maybe does not flash on the runway, but a closer look and there are surprises. On the colour palette it’s much more sober and defined, when compared to the last collection where I made a more crazy colour study, with colour touches of burgundies, sunset oranges, and pinks."
Alvarez is referring to his AW19 collection, which is just about to hit his website, and was inspired by India and featured florals, exaggerated lapels and knitted tank tops. A vibrant Indian colour palette of fuschia, marigold yellow and green gave this a collection a summery feel with the highlights being delicate leaf cutouts in soft tailoring.
Humayun, says, “The (SS20) collection clearly demonstrated Jaime's progression as a designer. It was sophisticated both in terms of ideas and technique. It was much more restrained than the previous collection, in terms of the palette, but still had shots of bold colour. I think Jaime has really mastered how to introduce colour into his collections and it's one of his main strengths - that and his attention to detail. I also loved the accessories.
“It's not easy to achieve an impact on the catwalk AND produce wearable garments, but I feel the brand does this very successfully. It's tailoring with a high fashion edge, for a man who wants to stand out without being overly flamboyant." she says.
“It will be exciting to see what Jaime does next season. Although he's developed a strong signature, each collection is very distinct.” says Humayun.
Any young and gifted designer will reach a stage in their career where they have to think about the next step. Do you stay a big fish in a small pond, or take the leap? “This was our last show at 080 Barcelona Fashion and we are looking for new platforms to present the new collection.” says Alvarez. British Fashion Council, are you listening?!
Right - Mans Concept Menswear SS20 at 080 Barcelona Fashion in June, 2019
Firmly established as London’s main menswear trade show, Jacket Required offers a chance, midway through the main buying season, to gauge the health of wholesale. While noticeably quiet on the first day - it could be the heatwave - brands were reporting a case of quality over quantity when it came to visitors and buyers. Here’s what caught the eye at Jacket Required for SS20:
Introducing menswear for the first time, Collectif, is a specialist in new vintage. Established over 19 years ago, with its origins in Camden, and now with 3 shops in London and 1 in Brighton, Collectif is offering authentic rockabilly menswear looks inspired by the 60s and 70s. Mod style knits and rocker leather jackets come in affordable price points like polo shirts for £39 and a checked wide collar shacket for £50.
While the name doesn’t mean anything specifically, UPDFG is based in Milan and is a made in Italy skate-wear label.
Founder Adam Boita was doing some research into his family name and found that Boita comes from Piedmont in the northern Italy. The ‘boita’ is a kind of box used in agriculture to spray the vines and orchards in Italy. Inspired by this, the product comes in eco-conscious ‘vegan friendly’ leather, made in China, will full provenance, retailing for £249.
After a soft launch, last year, YSC - Your Sample Collective - is a new British menswear brand of British Caribbean origins reflecting the everyman with a quality that would comfortable sit in a luxury department store, but without the price tag. New for SS20 is Portuguese seersucker and an easy to wear hybrid bomber with contrasting back panel all made in London.
Never under estimate novelty in today’s fashion landscape. Aviation 88 takes the classic flight jacket and turns it into a generous back pack for £150. Top Gun!
Atlanta Mocassin is a Portuguese-based footwear label established in 1987 specialising in moccasin type slip-ons. Hoping to push their men’s styles into the UK market for the first time, these are locally handmade in the north of Portugal use the finest materials in car shoe and casual loafer styles. Prices around £130.
With CBD being the flavour of the month in nutrition and beauty, it was inevitable that hemp would start to become more common as a resource for clothing. Australian label, Afends, says “no tree or plant species on earth has the commercial, economic, and environmental potential of hemp.” They want you to join their ‘Hemp Revolution’ in their loose basic styles, all proudly displaying their hemp origins.
R.M. WILLIAMS x MARC NEWSON
Australian made Chelsea boot specialist, R.M. Williams has teamed up with product designer, Marc Newson, on a pair of contemporary boots in a full range of colours. Retailing for an entry price of £275, they have the back tug ingeniously knitted into the side elastic.
A Sheffield based footwear manufacturer has launched its own brand of luxury trainers under the family name, Goral. Handmade with 200 manufacturing steps, the standout is the ‘Boulsover’ in Dunlop green.
FROM THE FIRST
Based around the fashion Chelsea boot, From The First, is a British brand making in Italy. Built on the concept of combining classic Italian traditions, whilst celebrating the authentic, laid back feel of early American rock ‘n’ roll culture, these boots could easily be double the price with a designer name attached. Retailing for around £400.
After a 12 year hiatus, Mephisto relaunches the ‘Jumper’ in a wide rainbow of colours. All made by hand with natural materials in that solid Mephisto way.
Sometimes it's good to go for a run in the woods. Clear the mind, wind in your hair and the latest sneakers on your feet, life is good. and breathe. Nothing feels as good as a fresh tracksuit to put that spring in your step. Sorry, gotta run!
Credits - #Gifted Tracksuit - Nicce, Trainers - Diadora, Watch - Kronaby,
The big news from Paris was the arrival of CIFF, the Copenhagen trade show’s latest off-shoot. Joining Tranoi, Man/Woman and Welcome Edition, CIFF transplanted itself to a car garage in the back streets of Paris and brought with it the youngest and most cutting edge of designers from all over Europe.
This fractious and competitive Parisian trade show scene makes seeing the new season’s catwalk shows, plus all the trade shows, a juggling act. Here are the major trends and brands for SS20 from Paris catching TheChicGeek’s eye:
This rather Michael Portillo of fabrics is getting a youthful reintroduction. Thanks to the return of the shirt, and the promotion of its environmental credentials, linen is returning in a more contemporary way. Bright colours and oversized, billowy shapes is offering a refreshing reinvention of linen and making it feel desirable and cool for the new SS20 menswear season.
Top Left - Man1924
Bottom Left - Delikatessen
Right - Péro
While many think of India as a place for colourful yet cheap forms of clothing and textiles, Paris welcomed a couple of Rajasthani labels based on pure handwork in western shapes with the premium price tags to match.
Left - Péro
Péro, meaning ‘to wear’ in Marwari, the local language of Rajasthan, offered a colourful and quirky take on summer dressing for SS20. Using local materials and skills, Péro was launched by Aneeth Arora, a textile graduate from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and a fashion graduate from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. She calls herself a ‘textile and dress maker’ and what fascinates and inspires her most is the clothing and dressing styles of the local people. The new SS20 collection features cute cartoon characters in a palette of pink and green linens.
Rajesh Pratap Singh, currently based in New Delhi, belongs to Rajasthan in India. A graduate of the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, too, he worked in the fashion Industry in India and Italy for two years before introducing his own line of men’s and women’s clothing in 1997.
Singh has created his unique signature style that subtly draws from his Indian roots to craft artisanal garments that stand apart due to their faultlessly clean lines, careful detailing and international silhouettes. Singh is closely associated with Indian fabric mills. Textile experimentation spans both the very high tech as well as the traditional in the form of intensive handlooms. Singh has five standalone stores in India and the SS20 saw the introduction of classical white tailoring with contrasting pinstripes in striking fuchsia pink and orange.
With Nigeria’s growing population set to overtake the USA’s by 2050, according to a United Nations report, and it is forecasted that over half of the expected growth between 2017 and 2050 is likely to occur in Africa, then it makes sense for focus to turn to this part of the world.
Left - Orange Culture
Promoting Lagos Fashion Week, it is only held once a year in October due to the lack of seasons, two designers, Orange Culture and Emmy Kasbit, represented their burgeoning menswear scene.
Adebayo Oke-Lawal, who has been designing since the age of 10, started Orange Culture in 2011, after having worked with several Nigerian designers. The label is more than a clothing line Adebayo insists. It is a “movement” that covers universal silhouettes with an African touch to a creative class of men, translating into a heady mixture of Nigerian inspired print fabrics, colour and contemporary urban street wear. All pieces are manufactured in Lagos, from ethically-sourced fabrics from local Nigerian fabric makers.
Founded by Emmanuel Okoro, Emmy Kasbit makes use of local artisans by bringing traditional staples to the modern age with the use of indigenous fabrics mixed with sartorial classics to create timeless pieces for the new African Man.
He was a fashion focus finalist at Lagos Fashion and Design Week 2017 after which he was awarded the recipient of the Fashion focus fund formerly known as Young Designer of the year.
Dr S is a new, independent, upstart brand born and bred in East London. On a single-minded mission to upcycle, recycle and repurpose reclaimed materials, Dr S is obsessed with regeneration. Each bag is made of over 80% upcycled materials- from discarded offcuts to forgotten rolls found in the storage rooms of cooperating fashion studios.
Bike inner tubes make handles, while seatbelt are reconfigured as body straps.
La Perruque develops artisanal, minimal and timeless leather goods with a focus on functionality and refined details. The products are all handmade in their workshop in Malmö, Sweden, but they are soon to up sticks and move to Paris and open a retail store which will also function as a workshop.
The leathers come from the best international suppliers, they share a supplier with Hermès, and promise their accessorise will age beautifully and get a nice patina over the time. The leathers are natural and have not been covered by a synthetic top finish. It means their colour will evolve with time and sun exposure.
From Copenhagen and the hands of Ulrik Pedersen - previously at NN07 - Sunflower wants to provide something longer lasting within the men’s clothing market. The method of production is as important as the final product, with an instance on sourcing the best quality fabrics, technical innovation and make.
SS20 sees metallic pinstripes and a focus on considered separates for those who still want something smart while imbued with Scandi cool.
Brixton based, this British-Nigerian fashion designer is offering hand-finished and artistic unisex pieces inspired by ‘politics of identity and social climates’.
Following several successful stints at Maison Margiela, J.W. Anderson and Celine, the London- born designer graduated from the prestigious Central Saint Martin's Design school in June 2017 with First Class Honours.
The young designer was recently shortlisted as a finalist in the ASOS Fashion Discovery 2018, and is a triple-award winner of the globally-acclaimed ITS 2018, where she took home a hat trick of awards across both Fashion and Artwork categories - The Diesel Award, The Vogue Talents Award and The ITS Time For Coffee Award.
John Booth X Sunspel
Fashion loves an artist of the season and the Scottish born, John Booth, with his colourful signature FA Cup-earred men is SS20’s. Following on from a recent collaboration with the Scottish accessorises brand, Begg & Co., he has now teamed up with Nottingham’s Sunspel. Offering a large collaboration of T-shirts, swim shorts, camp collar shirt and jacket in Booth’s palette of clashing primaries, it is a refreshing injection of colour in Sunspel’s reliable stable of basics.
See Berlin Trade Shows Report SS20 - here
Kicking off the recent round of SS20 men’s fashion weeks the luxury Italian giant, Prada, opted to show its men’s collection in Shanghai rather than Milan and Saint Laurent chose Malibu, California instead of Paris. The light-tactic Eiffel Tower was replaced by palm trees and Keanu Reeves - very Point Break - as the male models took to a catwalk that followed the lapping waves of the Pacific ocean.
These trips to far flung destinations, under the pretence of targeting that geographical audience, had become something of a signature of women’s Cruise shows over the past few years. A distraction from the rather boring clothes, brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Chanel scoured the globe for the most glamourous and social media friendly backdrops and flew the fash-pack on one giant jolly in-between the usually rigid calendar of traditional global fashion weeks.
Left - Greta Thunberg, 2019's environmental superhero
Taking a brand and its audience to locations not usually set up for fashion’s extravagance is expensive and indulgent, not to mention costly to the environment. These people won’t be travelling economy. Add everybody from the brand, the models, the buyers and the press and the numbers start to drastically stack up and those carbon emissions multiple.
It seems to go against everything fashion is trying to be at the moment. Fashion is trying to show its less wasteful side and is jumping on the sustainable ‘we-really-care-you-know’ bandwagon and it will be interesting how they will be able to justify these types of extravagant shows in the future. Admittedly, there’s always been travel in fashion, and getting people to see things in one place is an important part of fashion, but it’s this travel for travel’s sake that seems to feel out of step.
The Scandinavians have lead the way on this and Sweden’s ‘flygskam’, or flight shame, movement first came to prominence in the summer of 2017 when the singer-songwriter Staffan Lindberg wrote an article co-signed by five of his famous friends, in which they announced their decision to give up flying. Among the famous Swedes opting for other forms of transport were ski commentator Björn Ferry, who said last year he would only travel to competitions by train, opera-singer Malena Ernman (the mother of climate activist Greta Thunberg), and Heidi Andersson, the eleven-times world champion arm-wrestler. Finland has spawned its own version of the expression, calling it ‘lentohapea’.
When the 16-year old Greta Thunberg joined London’s ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protest this Spring she took the train. She also travelled by rail to the World Economic Forum in Davos and the climate summit in Katowice, Poland.
This Swedish trend is having an impact. Passenger numbers at Sweden’s 10 busiest airports fell 8% from January to April this year, following a 3% fall in 2018, according to Swedavia, which operates them.
A survey by the World Wildlife Fund found 23% of Swedes have abstained from traveling by air in the past year to reduce their climate impact, up 6 percentage points from a year earlier. New words entering the Swedish language include ‘tagskryt’ (train bragging) and ‘smygflyga,’ or fly in secret, to describe those not quite over their budget airline addiction.
People are choosing to take the train for environmental reasons. The stats are clear with trains drastically reducing the levels of CO2 emissions. The average CO2 emissions of 285 grams per air kilometre, compare with 158 for cars and 14 for trains.
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, in 2018, found that Swedes' per capita emissions from flying between 1990 and 2017 were five times the global average. Emissions from Swedes' international air travel have soared 61 per cent since 1990, the study said.
The number of journeys on Sweden’s national rail network increased by 5% last year and 8% in the first quarter of this year, according to Swedish Railways. Sales of Interrail tickets to Swedes increased by 45% in 2018 – and are expected to rise again this year. Passenger numbers at state train operator SJ jumped to a record 32 million in 2018 due to “the big interest in climate-smart travel,” they said.
Consumers are demanding that companies and brands lead by example. Klarna, the giant Swedish payment provider, has decided to have its global kick-off in Berlin for the year with all attendees travelling by train.
The budget airlines will be watching this trend, seeing whether it spreads beyond Scandinavia, is not it is lip service and whether younger people will really give up those cheap get aways for staycations or longer train journeys.
Fashion brands will start to acknowledge this trend and reduce unnecessary travel. I predict brands will start to do more things virtually and online.
While, in the UK, the Eurostar has made travelling by train cool - they’ve just added their third daily departure to Amsterdam - the rest of the British rolling stock is more hit and miss to say the least. While many people are trying to stop Britain’s second high-speed rail line, HS2, it could be the environmental argument that pushes it through to the end.
Time is money and with planes being faster, more direct and often cheaper, it’s going to take a seismic shift and a mental rethink to get everybody to feel the flying shame and get onboard - quite literally - with this new trend.
With Italy tip-toeing in and out of recession, Pitti Uomo felt a little skittish on confidence. It had an atmosphere of brands holding on by their finger nails, with many hoping for a strong SS20 season to help pull them through.
Sadly, it’s the quality makers who seem most susceptible to failure. Their high costs, lower margins and small quantities make it a difficult balancing act to continue to stay strong and produce quality product in Italy. These are the brands who are barely known yet sing through the quality on the hanger and all at a fair price. Today, you rarely get this kind of care and attention with a designer name. Here are five made-in-Italy menswear makers we should all be supporting:
Left - Pitti Uomo 96 soaking up the sunshine
Founded in 1957 by current creative director Guido Biondi’s grandfather as ‘7 Bell S.p.A’, a Tuscan atelier, it was the very first producer of Italian denim. Today, they make colourful and contemporary menswear instilled with the best made-in-Italy production.
Right - President's - For the SS20 season, there were bold minimal orange jackets, tie-dyed shirting and hand sketched T-shirts
Based in Venice, Barena, the Italian for ‘mudflat’, has been steadily making inroads into the UK with its stylish and original menswear. Inspired by the Venetian lagoon, Barena says it mimics the qualities of traditional workwear with a modern aesthetic. Loose shapes, quiet precise tailoring, exquisite fabrics, attention to detail and confident versatility are the pillars of their design philosophy.
The menswear designer is Massimo Pigozzo who has been with the Barena family for over twenty years. Trained as a tailor, for Pigozzo it is important to create designs that are simple, understated and easy to wear. Deep fabric research, pattern work and soft tailoring are key to his approach and he says it is not about reproductions or constant alterations.
Left - Barena - For the SS20 season, it was all about contrast with playful tailoring and short sleeved shirts with contrasting collars
Meaning double A in Italian and named after two friends, Alain and Albert, Doppiaa is designed for the whole family, for all ages and all occasions. Based in Milan, Doppiaa has two essential cornerstones: 100% Italian manufacturing, and the painstakingly executed pinpointing and selecting of the highest quality fabrics.
Right - Doppiaa - For the SS20 season, it was brightly coloured towelling tops, pyjama style piped printed shirts and strikingly striped trousers
This is everything the more famous Missoni should be; colourful, stylish and contemporary. Designed by Simonetta Bocelli and Franco Santarini and based in Florence, Sunhouse is a specialist in Italian made knitwear in a rainbow of colours in classic menswear shapes.
Sunhouse is one of the few companies in the world to use traditional 720-yarn looms to 'reinvent' the culture of knitwear. The production is carried out in their workshops in Montecosaro, in the Marche Region. Each individual jacket is cut and sewn by hand.
Left - Sunhouse - For the SS20 season, it was about bold colour stories in signature zig-zagged blazers and delicate polo shirts
BOB is an Italian sportswear brand created by two young Italian guys, Alessio Bonaiuti and Tommaso Bellini. They started their adventure 11 years ago in Prato, with the idea developing from going around vintage warehouses where huge quantities of second hand clothes were divided by colours and then recycled. Going through these warehouses was like being absorbed in a spectacular coloured market that resembled a field of flowers they thought and it was this image was the starting idea to develop a new concept of eclectic and colourful menswear.
Right - BOB - For the SS20 season, it was all about bold, pattern blazers and colourful separates
These are simply beautiful clothes made with care from great ingredients. While you are paying a premium, you are, in fact, getting great value when you consider the expertise and pedigree of these makers. These are the kind of clothes that are a joy to wear and will last you a very long time.
As London’s men’s fashion week gets ever smaller it becomes even harder for designers to make an impact. The four day event is really only two days with a mix of established brands and young designers trying to pad out the schedule. Like a Summer pond retreating, due to lack of rain (funding), with LFWM's decreasing pull the audiences are smaller and less important. Under this handicap, designers have a few short minutes to grab people's attention and resonate further outside of the room. When you look at the expense, you do wonder why anybody is crazy enough to do it, but that’s what makes you love the ‘art’ of fashion even more. LFWM is as much about getting together and looking at each other as it is about trends and looking forward. It’s not really even about selling clothes anymore, it’s like a social event or festival.
Left - RCA Graduates Gráinne Walley, Right - Clara Chu
On London Fashion Week Men’s opening night, the Royal College of Art graduates held a show called ‘All at Once’. The 50 MA graduates each had one look each which gradually rotated around the room. Held at a new retail development on Cork Street in Mayfair, this new way of showing ever increasing volumes of students makes it increasingly hard to see a story in people’s ideas or only gives them one chance to grab your attention. They were saying it was a reflection of the cost it takes for students to produce these collections and, possibly, a reflection of the times of not making huge amounts of stuff with one student offering ‘Extinction Rebellion’ as a reason for not producing anything physical at all.
It’s a tough task to show this amount of students in a realistic amount of time, but it might be better to possibly break them up and give them 5 looks to show in differing categories. Unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the more stuff you produce, the more opportunity you have to mentally sell something to somebody. Desire triggers people sharing and buying things. Noted highlights were Irish graduate Gráinne Walley’s Game of Thrones type armour and Clara Chu’s food inspired accessories.
For the remainder of the fashion week, the front rows were still sprinkled with Burberry check and Balenciaga Triple S trainers, all seen this time last year, and a sign of the lack of hit replacements even though fashion giants continue to churn out incredible amounts of product and ideas.
Here are some brief highlights of LFWM SS20:
This South Korean label, established in 2013, and with creative direction by Hyun-Min Han, made its London catwalk debut. An alumni of Wooyoungmi, Han showed a sophisticated collection mixing pinstripe tailoring and sportswear with flourishes of ruching and ruffles with a finale of models all wearing branded Münn suit bags.
Following her first collection as part of Fashion East, last season, the Dublin-born returned with more of her stylish normcore. This time it was summer towelling mixed with traditional Irish knits and sports fabrics in her mono-coloured looks which are fast becoming her signature.
Nicholas Daley gave LFWM a tribal jazz happening in a 18th century church in the City of London. The ‘Sons Of Kemet’ band dressed in a warm, bold checks made from British fabrics created a crescendo of music and that quickly fell into a party atmosphere with looks referencing his Jamaican heritage.
McQueen came back to London town with its usual exquisite tailoring and its fashion as art raison d’être. As well as the all ultra smart evening wear, there was watercolour symmetry prints and bold fuchsia pink florals in the charming surroundings of the C1348 Charterhouse in Farringdon. I just wish McQueen’s accessorises were as elegant as the clothes. Those chunky trainers and boots just don’t sit right and aren’t the best of their type.
Hussein Chalayan celebrated 25 years with a walk on the street near his store in Mayfair. Lucky with the weather, and with the backdrop of a textured stone wall clean striped shirting - something that continues to look fresh - in simple shapes and a minimal palette was a reminder of this experienced technician of a designer.
For the past few seasons Lou Dalton’s collections have been dominated by her collaborations with British fine knit manufacturer, John Smedley. This season, she returned to a fuller offer with outerwear, shirting, tailoring and, of course, knitwear, but this time in fine rugby shapes, in a collection of easy and stylish clothes which don’t scream ‘designer’. A return to beautiful things?