If you are among the many menswear mavens who biannually scour the catwalks of the world’s fashion weeks, you probably don’t need to be told that London Collections: Men (LCM) has rapidly become one of the leaders of the pack. Founded in 2012 largely thanks to the efforts of Fashion East’s Lulu Kennedy and Topman creative director Gordon Richardson, the stand-alone men’s fashion showcase highlights the best of emerging and established talent from the United Kingdom and internationally.
It is perhaps the emphasis on emerging designers, however, that makes LCM so unique. A regular habit of North American media and culture is to associate “Britishness” with formality, heritage, and sophistication… Dare we say “stuffy”? In keeping with this notion, perception of British menswear has long been limited to macs (or “trench coats” as they’re more popularly referred to on this side of the pond), hunting and riding apparel, and the impeccable suit tailoring of London’s Savile Row. While these romanticized schemas of pomp and ceremony fashion are still applicable to an episode of Downton Abbey, modern British menswear is anything but an old boys’ club.
A new generation of British men’s design talent, largely from London’s Central Saint Martins College and showcased at LCM, has begun a quiet colonization of fashion tastes the world over. While it may be contentious to associate fashion with Britain’s sordid history of foreign relations, it is undeniable that London is once again becoming the center of the known world… well, the known menswear world anyways. Reflecting a global shift in the menswear zeitgeist, powerful combinations of utilitarian inspiration, androgyny, and high art make for a creative environment in Londontown that is placing the Brits at the forefront of fashion. To help you map out the new British menswear empire, here are some of the top emerging designers we are happy to let conquer our closets.
Only four collections in and Craig Green is already taking the fashion world by storm. A recent (as in 2 years ago) graduate of Central Saint Martins, this east London sartorial savant originally wanted to be a sculptor or painter. This passion for the fine arts shows in his AW14 collection, featuring bold, structured, boxy silhouettes which form the battleground between an obsession with black (Green’s favourite “colour”) and explosions of vibrant print. His inspirations are clearly drawn from utilitarian sources, including the British military and working-class England… well if soldiers and brick factory workers wore long skirts, that is.
Recently named the creative director of Spanish/LVMH luxury brand Loewe, J.W. Anderson has become a poster-child of sorts for the power of showing at LCM. Born Jonathon Anderson in Northern Ireland, he officially launched his self-titled brand in 2008 with a successful show at London Fashion Week soon after. Regarded as forward thinking and innovative, J.W. Anderson’s aesthetic makes frequent dalliances with both masculinity and femininity in ways that directly challenge convention and gender norms. Translation? Androgynous gender-bending of the most fabulous order.
Agi & Sam
Crowned the Best Emerging Menswear Designer at the British Fashion Awards in December 2013, and also with a Topman collaboration under their belt, Agi and Sam have been the design duo to watch in 2014. Their AW14 collection was inspired by the breadth separating the first world from the third world, with Western garments re-invented to include the more long, flowing aesthetic of African tribesmen. Incredibly chic (note: practically everything is in black and white) and almost painfully self-aware of an economic imbalance fashion often plays an active role in.
What are some of your favourite British Menswear designers? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.