Brand Watch

London Collections: Men – Highlights

posted by on 23/06/2013

As you may have noticed (from the barrage of runway updates on twitter and street-style shots on Instagram this week) London Collections: Men has just wrapped up its 3rd season. For those unfamiliar with the bi-annual showcase…think of ‘LCM‘ as London Fashion Week dedicated solely to the appreciation of menswear. As the rest of the fashion parade set their eyes on Pitti Uomo & Paris Showrooms…here is a recap of our favourite shows, looks and everything else in between…

After only 3 seasons, London Collections: Men is strengthening the capital’s reputation as a hub of leading menswear talent. Personally, Milan will always have the most iconic and historic association with classic menswear fashion but it’s clear that people are starting to embrace London as the home to both classic and contemporary menswear design (evident from the ‘homecoming’ of Burberry after spending many years in Milan).

LCM (and Fashion Week alike) are testimony to the rise of the social media and blogging phenomenon, the new generation of ‘content creators’ have made high-end fashion more accessible to the masses hence the support from the fashion industry. When I first started attending London Fashion Week (AW11), it was simply to capture street-style photography for my personal tumblr. That all changed with the introduction of LCM…I decided to skip the womenswear oriented London Fashion Week to focus my coverage on insider access, original visuals and to contribute a unique perspective on men’s fashion & style.

LCM is the perfect arena for trend spotting, naturally it has become the breeding ground for the usual suspects of well-dressed editors, bloggers and photographers who treat the streets as their personal runways. Over the years, I have even picked up a few pointers which have contributed to my personal style (aptly named ninja chic). LCM is also a mega-networking opportunity…it’s great to catch up with friends who you only see this time of year due to busy schedules, the odd celebrity (e.g. the faces of LCM David Gandy & Tinie Tempah) or that person you follow on social media that you would love to strike up a conversation with in real life (in my case, Poggy-San from United Arrows). Oh yeah…the physical workout involved in running to and from shows is also a plus.

Covent Garden’s Hospital Club is the official HQ for London Collections: Men and it was here Aaron & I set up base to cover the 3 day long schedule…50+ shows and related events of which we attended roughly 20 between us (luckily for us, the Hospital Club is within walking distance to the majority of presentations, catwalks and screenings).

TOPMAN DESIGN

We kicked off the proceedings early on day 1 with a pre-show breakfast at the Old Crown Pub (which Topman had taken over for the duration of LCM) before heading down to the Topman Design show at the Old Sorting Office. The Old Crown Pub became a central hub to all the hectic events taking place during LCM thus becoming the perfect spot to recharge phones…and feet.

The key statement for the Topman Design SS14 collection was the ‘Techno Cowboy” (Hentsch Man, who showed later in the day also gave a nod to cowboy style).

Check-Out-Full-Collection

The Nashville inspired pieces featured iconic silk western shirt paired with loose trousers constructed from ‘techno fabrics’, slim belts and metallic brogues. The burgundy jersey with the floral detailing and the black luxe varsity jacket were the standout pieces of the collection.

After the show, we were invited back to the Old Crown Pub where Topman had transformed the 2nd floor into the Topman Generation Hub. We were privileged enough to see the collection up close…straight off the runway (a closer inspection allows you to appreciate the intricate embroidery, mother of pearl buttons and detailed piping of the silk shirts) and we also did a brief interview on our thoughts with the guys from Threads TV for Topman.

MR. HARE & MR. START

Footwear designer Mr Hare teamed up with contemporary tailoring brand Mr Start to showcase their latest offering at the House of St Barnabas. The grade one listed Georgian townhouse was the perfect setting for the presentation with its beautiful rococo interior and architecture. A few days prior to LCM, I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the building where I learned it was in the process of being renovated to open its doors as a not for profit members club (Watch this space) .

The presentation was spread across 3 rooms with the first room filled with models sporting Mr Starts SS14 collection. Fresh chic tailoring and light fabrics perfect for a summer wardrobe. I was particularly impressed with the smart causal aesthetics which manifested in the form of printed shirts and knee length shorts. The second room featured dress shirts paired with beautiful evening jackets on torso mannequins. Sharp & elegant with attention to detail. The third room contained a selection of Mr Hare’s footwear ranging from the casual end of the spectrum (espadrilles and trainers in summer colour palette) to the smart (brogues and tasselled loafers). It was difficult to pick a favourite but I would have to go with the navy blue monk straps.

VELSVOIR x OCTOBER HOUSE

Bespoke British tailor October House and luxury accessories brand Velsvoir unveiled a sartorial collection of distinguished looks for the modern man via a theatrical presentation at the The Loft at the Ivy. I discovered Velsvoir a few weeks back at the Esquire x Stella Artios party where I bumped into the brothers Zak & Talha who founded the brand after their inability to find the right tie for a family wedding.

The October House collection stays true to the art of tailoring with sharp silhouettes, detailed design with a touch of flair from Velsvoir’s paisley print ties and pocket squares. The modern dandy inspired presentation also featured a selection of hats curated by Y&Y friend and lover of hats La Touche.

AGI & SAM

I had to jump into Derek’s post here and add my thoughts regarding the Agi & Sam SS14 Collection because it was actually the first show I had ever seen and coincidentally one of my favourites. I was left pretty speechless by the exceptional work of the two fairly young designers who continue to play with patterns and incorporate some great textures. The tones varied from muted to neon, which once again found its way into many a collection and in this case took on a 90′s vibe.

Check-Out-Full-Collection

After just releasing their collaboration with Topman I think expectations were high and I did not speak to anyone who left unimpressed, including the two owls in attendance. I feel Agi & Sam always channel something fun through their collections however cuts are always on point, from gallantly oversized to elegantly fitting, and as a result a sense of maturity is evident. Maybe one day I will thank the guys in person for making my first show so enjoyable.

OLIVER SPENCER

Oliver Spencer was certainly the most anticipated show of the day 2 and I wasn’t disappointed. The collection was inspired by London’s ever evolving subcultures. With references to American neo-expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Oliver Spencer channelled his love for art into his pieces using graffiti print on his relaxed tailoring. The models walked the runway to a hip soundtrack mixed live by Idris Elba.

Another familiar face in the form of London’s own Wretch 32 also graced the show with a monotone red killer assemble. What I found most interesting about this confident collection was unstructured soft silhouettes e.g. the pyjama fit of the acid wash denim and paint splattered trousers trousers.

Key pieces in the collection included the red bomber jacket and faded red trenchcoat.

Check-Out-Full-Collection

MR. PORTER

The third and final day of LCM saw some of the favourite like Burberry Prorsum & Paul Smith take to the runway alongside some of the capital’s rising stars like Matthew Miller & Xander Zhou. Unfortunately I was unable to attend any shows due to prior engagements (leaving Aaron to have all the fun) but I did managed to sneak off to Mr Porter’s secret garden party later on in the day. with Aaron (editor at Individulism + Style Video Editor for Mr Porter)

Held in the beautiful terrace of the ‘In and Out Club’ on St James’s square, Mr Porter held the garden party to present their exclusive capsule collection with Agi & SamChristopher Raeburn and J.W. Anderson. Each collection drawing on the designers signature styles to create versatile summer staples

The weather was on side and the presentation was the perfect chilled out setting to close the third and final day of LCM. The models posed under a floral catwalk-like structure whilst guests were treated to a live band and sorbet gelato from Mr Porter’s ice cream stand

(Check out the full collection here)

HACKETT

Hackett‘s quintessentially proud collection embodies the eccentricity that British style is known for. The black and white portraits of menswear icons scattered around the show-space including Frank Sinatra, Sean Connery and Michael Caine was a nod to Hackett’s 1960s inspired theme. The collection consisted of wearable tailored classics for men who like to experiment with colour and textures. My favourite aspect of the show was the comprehensive options that the collection showcased from lightweight summer tweeds and evening wear in summer wool to turtlenecks  knits and scarfs. My favourite look is the white and blue pin strip suit…classic riviera style.

The references to country club attire/gentleman sport became explicit during the tophat final when the models walked the runway in full cricket gear. Hackett is one of my favourite British heritage brand (after Burberry) and the Hackett show was by far the most impressive. A venue overlooking the Thames at Old Billingsgate Market, a 38 piece orchestra but sitting front row opposite the legend that is Mr Samuel L. Jackson was the icing on the cake.

Check-Out-Full-Collection

JIMMY CHOO

Equipped with a (fully-charged) camera, notepad and flask of sake vitamin water, I made my way to the Jimmy Choo presentation early on day 2 of LCM. Greeted by a 1950s Cadillac out front which threatened (but failed) to steal the limelight from the SS14 footwear collection titled ‘Men in the Cities’. The selection of brogues, penny loafers and hi top trainers were inspired by a art series of the same name by Robert Longo. What makes Jimmy Choo stand out as a brand is their clever contemporary edge…the footwear range featured an exciting use of material including denim, python/croc leather etc and was adorned with badges, stars and micro-studs. My favourite pair – the embroidered slipper advertising poster motif or the monk straps with camo detailing (both easily styled with a pair of smart jeans)

Check-Out-Full-Collection

SPENCER HART

The Spencer Hart show is an indication of the creativity and passion for design that LCM embodies. Nick Hart (Creative Director) is known for giving classic Savile Row tailoring a modern vibe. He closed the second day in style with models walking the runway to a funk inspired soundtrack in casual layered tailoring (reminiscent of the effortlessly cool ‘Rat Pack’ of the 60s). I loved the way the ‘kaftan’ style shirts were worn under the jackets with a contrasting scarf wrapped loosely around the neck (this manner of relaxed sartorial style reminded me of a similar design sported by Sam Lambert & Shaka Maido of the Art Comes First collective).

Check-Out-Full-Collection

The show featured an interesting use of all black models including The Wire’s Clark Peters and Misfits’s Nathan Stewart Jarrett. Unfortunately I only managed to get two shots before my Canon ran out of juice (a lesson for next season…bring a spare battery.

I’m not sure if it was the minimalism (simple palette of whites and blacks with touches of blue and camel), the two stepping models or the creative construction of the tailoring looks but this was certainly my favourite collection of LCM.

YMC

The YMC collection stayed true to the spring/summer theme with the use of soft linen fabrics combined with the brand’s signature of relaxed tailoring and casual aesthetics. It was also one of the few shows that I noticed the strong use of prints and patterns (checks, stripes, floral, polka dot etc) with a simple palette of navy blues and shades of grey (no pun intended). It is clear YMC is pushing for simplicity…wearable uncomplicated pieces with a playful edge perfect for spring/summer wardrobe.

Check-Out-Full-Collection

HONORARY MENTIONS

CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN

Aaron: While tot a fan of the tie dye trend I was pleasantly surprised by the Earthy take on tie dye used by Christopher Raeburn in a collection that utilised Earthly tones and patterns throughout. I love functionality and the collection looked to be full of functional pieces that still never failed to impress aesthetically.

Check-Out-Full-Collection

I felt the collection had an ‘urban boy scout’ look, a term which I just came up with but I feel describes the collection rather well. The outwear was particularly impressive, as were translucent pieces that favour some interesting layering techniques and styles.

(IMG Credit: Dazed Online & Wonderland Magazine)

CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

Aaron: My first thought during this show was not actually regarding the collection but the glitter in the poor models hair, glitter in your hair has got to be a nightmare, it is likely that the stuff will still be there come Christmas and they will look like walking decorations. However, that is unimportant, what is important is the collection which tended to take on a rather relaxed fit. This really enhanced the great design of the pieces within the collection and while I generally advocate well fitting clothes, the cuts here were perfect for it.

Check-Out-Full-Collection

While I did not particularly like the neon colouring, the floral patterning was used perfectly and gave a 60′s/70′s feel to what were generally rather modern cuts. In terms of details I really liked the large collars that hung almost to the top of the chest, this is something I would love to see incorporated into some high street designs as they add an interesting statement to even a plain shirt.

(IMG Credit: Dazed Online & Wonderland Magazine)

LCM has made it evident that the menswear scene is flourishing both in terms of commercial growth and creativity. As a technologist at heart, I couldn’t help by notice that this seasons installation has been the BFC’s most interactive fashion event to date. Live stream shows and the use of the #londoncollections and #lcmtimeline hashtags an obvious bid to increase engagement from both industry and public alike. I would love to see this trend of digital innovation continue utilising the technology to promote British designers to a global audience.

Understandably, the globally recognised brands are the most anticipated shows of the season but to me LCM is about the recognition of Britain young fresh talent. Lesson for next season: Invest in a Macbook Pro. I’m currently using a Mac Mini but a laptop would come in handy for on the go editing or browsing in between shows. Oh yeah, a spare camera battery.

Aaron: As someone who was previously a virgin to fashion shows (Agi & Sam took my virginity in style), this was a new and exciting experience. While for some it is all about image and being photographed, if you spend your time during the three days with the right people, it can be a tremendously inspiring. You are surrounded by a lot of people who share the same passions as yourself and it can prove a great time to share and appreciate creativity. Yes there is superficiality, yes there are those who are all image and no substance and yes there are some fairly ridiculous “costumes” (Animal Farm… inside joke) but who am I to judge. I managed to overlook these things, marvelling at some brilliantly designed collections and meeting some great people. I came away bursting with ideas that I hope you will see up on the site in the coming months, they will stay secret for now but keep your eyes peeled and until next time, sayonara

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  • WORDS BY: AARON & DEREK
  • PHOTOGRAPHY BY: DEREK
  • EDITING BY: YIN
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