Somewhere in the depths of rainy Kent, TheChicGeek, was a Lego-like vision of colour.
When we think of bold colours we often get sidetracked by prints and pattens. Plain primaries, like these, should be looked at like children's building blocks, all adding up to a balanced whole. Don't be frightened by bold trousers, because, when they're balanced, like here with other just as strong colours, they don't feel as bright and daring. It says confidence and references masters of colour like David Hockney and Luke Edward Hall.
Credits - #Gifted Shirt - Barena, Sandals - Grenson, Socks - Falke, Jacket - Slowear #NotGifted Trousers - Polo Ralph Lauren
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
These were some of my favourite pieces from the SS19 trade shows. First seen at Pitti in Florence and then later in Copenhagen on the Barena, the Venice-based fashion brand, stand, they hadn’t disappeared out of my head and I was itching for them to drop.
Featuring a stunning print of Venice, one of the most beautiful and individual cities in the world, they are stylish, oversized linen garments which you could wear separately or all together for that complete Peggy Guggenheim look.
Left & Below - Barena - BERMUDA (Shorts) AGRO SCHIAVON UNICO - €195, CAMICIA (Shirt) SOLANA MARTINO UNICO - €235
Fashion, in its nature, isn’t logical. Before things are broken or unusable we move onto consuming the next item all under the umbrella of ‘fashion’. It’s a huge, global business which basically comes down to us buying more things than we need and, also, new things before our existing things are redundant or can no longer fulfil their purpose.
It’s also very creative and what makes us human beings.
Left - Northern European fields full of flax
It’s therefore not in the fashion business’ interest to get us, as consumers, to buy or use less. So, what we’ve seen over the latest few years is many retailers using the term ‘sustainable’ to give our consumption the gloss of being better or even good for the environment while continuing to encourage us to buy even larger amounts.
It’s difficult for retailers and brands to tell us to buy less or not at all. They want us to feel good while we are shopping, but can ‘fashion’ ever be sustainable and what does ‘sustainable’ even mean?
Bruce Montgomery, Course leader BA hons Fashion UCA Epsom/Menswear Consultant, says, “While it’s a mammoth task, fashion needs to become sustainable. The industry is over producing, this is leading to excessive consumption with 300,000 tons of clothing being dumped on landfill either by both retailers and consumers rather than recycled. Patagonia’s don’t buy this jacket campaign and Stella McCartney’s fashion campaign shot with models lying in landfill tried to raise awareness to the problem, but much more industry commitment is needed.”
“Brands have understood its positive to be seen as ‘sustainable’. This has led to many jumping on the marketing bandwagon without any commitment and just greenwashing the surface of the topic. The word unfortunately is in danger of being watered down in the same way the word ‘luxury’ is now applied to fast fashion products. Why should consumers believe brands when they discover there is no substance behind a brand’s sustainable stance or strategy?” says Montgomery.
Niche brands with stringent green credentials are really trying to separate themselves from the mainstream ‘sustainable’ bandwagon. Swedish, independent outdoor clothing brand, Houdini, aims to “become fully circular in sustainability - and setting the standard for sustainable fashion and its mission towards ‘impact positive’ status”. Ninety one percent of their product is made from recycled, recyclable, renewable, biodegradable or Bluesign - it eliminates harmful substances right from the beginning of the manufacturing process and sets and controls standards for an environmentally friendly and safe production - certified fabrics.
Eva Karlsson, CEO, Houdini Sportswear, says, "We find ‘sustainability’ not only a boring phrase, but an underwhelming ambition. To be sustainable should be seen as the bare minimum for an organisation’s social and environmental impact. Imagine a world where businesses set out to have a positive impact on the planet, and customers demanded it.”
Can fashion ever be ‘sustainable’? “With the knowledge and available technologies of today fashion (as in apparel) could and should be way closer to sustainable than what is currently the case. The trouble is best technologies and best practices are seldom implemented by retailers and brands, or some are implemented for one specific product or product group rather than for the big bulk. This is true not only for environmental factors, but for social and ethical factors as well.” says Karlsson.
“There are numerous reasons for this. Lack of guts and willpower to change, lack of knowledge, lack of time in an ever speedier fast fashion market. On the systemic level hinders are built into the system – buyers and sustainability managers are often working in their separate silos, the pricing structures of today work against the transition to sustainable business practices and regulations are poor.” she says.
Is the future buying differently then? The Victoria & Albert Museum recently held an exhibition entitled ‘Fashioned From Nature’ looking at the materials and inspiration the fashion industry has taken from nature. It was sponsored by CELC, The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp and they used the exhibition to highlight and promote this natural fibre - linen.
Marie-Emmanuelle Belzung, Director, CELC, The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp, says, “Not many people know – almost nobody – that three countries in Europe are the worldwide leader in flax production: France, Belgium and the Netherlands. More than 80 per cent of worldwide production comes from these three. And the quality from here is far superior to elsewhere, because the climate and conditions are perfect, and the knowledge and expertise are far superior. So, linen production is very local – you can see the fields from the Eurostar.”
Right - Flax - linen - grows naturally with no irrigation
“And there is no irrigation – no water needed, no GMO, no waste, no poison going into the water system, which is vital when you consider the demand for water in the future. Plus, linen is a good local employer: it takes five times more labour than wheat, because flax is a very technical crop. More technical than corn or wheat or other agricultural products that might occupy the fields. Then, the process of transferring the plant to the fibre is purely mechanical, involving no chemistry. Linen is natural, and entirely sustainable.” says Belzung.
Compared to cotton, which uses enormous amounts of pesticides and water, linen is a local European crop and is underused in fashion with many associating it with seasonal summer shirts and suits.
“Linen’s continued popularity is thanks to innovation. In the last ten years, linen the textile has enjoyed two major innovations. Knitted fabric has developed thanks to innovation on the yarn. Knitted linen overturns one stereotype: it is linen that does not wrinkle. Second is washed linen, which gives the fabric some pep and so seduces a new generation of consumers. Makes linen soft and chic.” says Belzung.
“In our special project with Chelsea College of Arts the concept of linen as a sports fabric – natural moisture management, naturally hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial – was one of the strongest ideas. Of course, blending anything with petro-chemicals diminishes the sustainability argument. Flax fibres are also being combined with eco-plastics to create, for example, car interiors, speakers and sporting equipment such as skis.” she says.
Linen is a perfect example of how consumers can swap one fabric for another. If consumers have a choice between a white cotton shirt and a white linen shirt, with this knowledge, they can make a more educated decision with less environmental impact.
Montgomery says, “We are consuming more cotton than we are growing, so materials like flax will need to be used more by designers in the future. An education programme will be needed because, while brands continue to use cotton, consumers will buy it instead of alternatives such as flax because they are familiar with it. The Copenhagen Sustainable Fashion Summit has been very successful in getting high profile leaders from academia and industry together to discuss sustainability, but it is still only covering the converted. The loop from producer to consumer needs to be joined up.”
Right - Raw linen on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum Exhibition ‘Fashioned From Nature’
“We need the whole industry to understand that sustainability needs to be applied to all aspects of the fashion business. Starting from yarns to fabric, manufacture, producing less through better range planning, making more locally, as well as recycling. Technology is being used to resolve the issue and their are new developments coming through such as polymer recycling, but this will take time. A lot more can be done in the short term simply by every brand making a sustainable commitment. The Kering group for example have been very pro active in enforcing their sustainable strategy across the group, while the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is researching new ways to inspire a generation to re-think, re-design and build a better future through a circular economy.” he says.
“If the industry would let go of business as usual and decide on making the transition without compromise it could do so today. With emerging technology it could reach even further, becoming truly sustainable, restorative and even regenerative.” says Karlsson.
I don’t think it’s realistic to ask people to buy less. It’s even more patronising to ask people with less money not to buy cheaper clothes. We need people to buy differently while we wait for technology and economics to close the circle on fashion items.
In the future, I can see us recycling our clothes like we do with other recyclables. Putting them into piles according to their fibre make up. This will satisfy the speed of fashion and also the in-built disposabiltiy.
Things need to go around and around and around. It’s not enough for something to be made out of plastic bottles once. It, itself, needs to be recyclable and then into something else and then something else. We need to close the loop. That is sustainable.
Okay, so nobody buys anything, but London is the city of ideas. It's the city of newness and also the historical home of menswear. It's the benchmark, it's the tradition and it's the craziness.
London Fashion Week Men's starts tonight.
ICEBERG: To describe British designer, James Long’s Iceberg collection as ‘commercial’ is to acknowledge the shift in fashion. Post-Gucci, anything bright, standout and clashing is commercial.
This had Long’s signature play with knitwear, but with Italian manufacturing polish. You can picture each and everyone of these clothes hanging on a rail in a store tomorrow.
The fascination with cartoon characters was there, there was a mash-up between F1 and Snoopy, and while the sportswear fashion cycle is finishing (soon!), there are plenty of takers for comfort still.
Iceberg, as a brand, hasn’t been over exposed in the logo/branding segment yet so much to play with. Lots of full look colour and, with a big name like 'Iceberg', it's not a brand to disappear into the background in.
ASOS - ASOS showed a teaser SS19 collection inspired by cult classics such as Blade Runner, Tron and Total Recall. Think shine, see-through and bold colours.
TOPMAN - While no clothes, it was a return to Soho of old with a party at the Phoenix Artist Club. You can picture Francis Bacon down here throwing a few drunken obscenities at the bar staff. I still have a lot of affection for Topman and I'm excited about their new AW18 collection.
What did TheChicGeek wear? Credits - Shirt - Paolo Pecora, Linen Trousers - Basic Rights, Shoes - Dune, Sunglasses - Kaleos
See LFWM Day 2 - here
We know what our clothes are made from, you only have to look at the label, but do we know which materials are the least and most damaging to the environment? Probably not.
The new fashion exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Fashioned From Nature, gets serious about the impact fashion is having on the world. It starts off fairly simply, looking at the raw and natural materials used in clothing and decoration from the 17th century onwards, and quickly charts the growing appetite for the rare and exotic to decorate the wealthy’s clothes.
Left - Historical dress inspired by nature and new discoveries
Right - Fashion protesting against itself
It’s interesting how our love of nature and the beauty we see in it has made people want to wear it and at the same time destroy it. It's very difficult to strike a balance.
This isn’t your standard fluffy fashion exhibition or one dominated by big names, it’s a thought provoking look about what things are, where they come from and their impact on the environment. But, it’s done in a way that isn’t preaching or has a strong agenda.
It’s sponsored by the European Confederation of Flax and Hemp, but I feel they could have done more to highlight the benefits of wearing flax. (I didn't see hemp mentioned at all). Most commonly made into linen, flax is one of the easiest and least damaging forms of materials to grow and is definitely something we should be wearing more of. It would have been nice to see more with regards to how you can use it, different finishes and something more than being the material of a few seasonal summer shirts and suits. There’s a wall you can touch at the very beginning made of flax. It feels like really dry horse hair.
Left - Lace Bark grown from a tree
Right - Toxic Evening Coat, Madame Grès, 1936
Things I learnt from this exhibition: I’d never heard of ‘Vegetable Ivory’ or ‘Lace-Bark’ before. I didn’t know the bones used in corsetry are called ‘Baleen’, after the type of whale.
Upstairs there is a lot going on. Some pieces are simply inspired by nature while others show new materials made from by-products or waste. ‘Vegea’ uses grape waste from the wine industry to form a leather-substitute and their ‘Grape’ gown is on show, as well as a Ferragamo piece made from ‘Orange Fiber’ derived from waste from the Italian citrus industry and an H&M Conscious dress made from recycled shoreline plastic.
I think educating people - cotton uses ridiculous amounts of pesticides and water - about what they are wearing is important and it would have been good to have seen different materials: wool, flax, cotton compared with one another. These are the main choices people have when shopping.
Fashion in its nature is wasteful and destructive. There’s no logic to moving on from perfectly wearable clothes and buying new ones other than to stay ‘fashionable’. But, that’s how it works and it’s also a huge business employing many people.
We need to be realistic, the odd dress made from recycled plastic bottles isn’t even scratching the surface. We need to look at clothing like other recyclables. Take the components and raw materials apart and reuse into new garments. This would require less fresh materials and would also close the loop on the fashion industry.
Left - Vegetable Ivory
Right - The flax wall
I think it’s naive to ask people to buy less. We need to improve environmental practises, push less destructive options and reuse and recycle more.
Fashion is dictated to by money. The minute it becomes more cost effective to do something, then it will happen. Let’s just hope that's sooner rather than later.
Fashioned from Nature - Victoria & Albert Museum - Fashion, Gallery - 21 April 2018 – 27 Jan 2019 #FashionedFromNature - £12
Below - The 'GuppyFriend' which stops micro particles being released from your washing machine into the environment
When I was shown a few pieces from ‘Basic Rights’, at a recent press day, I thought it was just another rich boy trying to reinvent the white T-shirt. Do we need more expensive basics when we’re quite happy with what we’ve got from Uniqlo and various other affordable retailers? Fast forward a few months and it’s clear this is something far more thoughtful and serious.
Left - Basic Rights SS18 inspired by Marrakech
Founded by The Vaccines’ lead guitarist, Freddie Cowan, what may have started as a desire for a good T-shirt and trousers has flourished into a full tour wardrobe. Like any clever fashion entrepreneur, he’s enlisted a master architect to help with the design and cut of the pieces.
Right - Basic Rights - High Waist Linen Trousers Brown - £160
Savile Row master tailor, David Chambers, who had previously made clothes for Freddie’s parents, and an expert with 50 years’ experience, is helping to translate Freddie’s ideas into form-fitting items.
Having learnt under Fred Astaire’s tailor and spent his apprenticeship making trousers at Anderson & Sheppard, he has made suits for David Hockney, Manolo Blahnik and Terrence Conran. Men who certainly know a thing or two about good design.
Founded in 2016 in New York, Basic Rights is launching in the UK, this season, with a collection inspired by Marrakech. High waisted linen trousers, Western jackets and camp collar shirts are seen on a pair of models mirroring Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix.
These items are simple yet have identity. Prices are good: £40 for a tee to £230 for a Western satin jacket. I’m excited about this brand purely because of the expertise of David. Finding a good pair of nicely fitting trousers is often very difficult. I have high hopes for these high waisted pairs and can’t wait to try them.
Right - Mick & Jimi fighting for their SS18 Basic Rights
Left - Striped Collarless Shirt - £110
See more here
The sun comes out and it’s time to get excited about wafting around. These are perfect in a Jaipur temple kinda way. It's the ochre-brown colour and faded print that makes these wearable and more relaxed than the more formal type of patterned men's trousers we've seen over the last few years.
You could easily pull these over a pair of swim shorts after a day at the beach or pool. Just make sure your surroundings look as good.
Left & Below - Etro - Gazebo Tree-Print Linen Trousers - £305 from Matchesfashion.com