The GQ editor and BFC Menswear Committee chairman tells ian wright his ambitions for London Collections: Men
What does the British Fashion Council’s Menswear Committee do on a practical level?
Like any committee, people are on it as figureheads, people who have been incredibly useful from a logistical point of view. It was important to have people who weren’t in the fashion industry like David Walliams and Tinie Tempah because they’re fantastic ambassadors who are into fashion. We’ve also tried to create a buzz and a series of events which have a cultural aspect.
Why is it important that British menswear has its own showcase away from London Fashion Week?
The [single] day got completely oversubscribed. The day just got bigger and bigger and basically became a victim of its own success. We needed to make it much bigger, plus it’s always been at completely the wrong time in the calendar so it was decided we should kick-start it and try to take ownership of the whole period. So from every January and June it’ll be London, Florence, Milan and Paris and whatever New York decides to do afterwards.
Do you think New York will end up following suit because it’s now out on a limb?
I don’t know. One of the encouraging and surprising things for us was that there’s been an awful lot of interest in this week from American designers. We have representations from Thom Browne, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, and hopefully there’ll be even more next season. My reading of this is that Milan has not exactly bent over backwards to accommodate the Americans in terms of scheduling and also if you’re Calvin or Ralph or Tommy or whoever and you think ‘we really need to show in Europe’, you have the opportunity to show in Milan and Paris which are obviously fantastic machines with a great history and legacy. However, if you show in Paris you’re basically showing in the most bourgeois city in Europe, if you show in Milan you’re pretty much showing in one of the ugliest and most boring cities in Europe, or you could come to London where it’s a far more interesting cultural experience.
Is that part of the strategy for the future of London Collections: Men to build it as a truly global fashion week as opposed to what men’s day was, which was mainly supporting the younger designers?
It has to be everything. This event will live or die on the ability of the British designers to produce interesting commercial collections. But it’s very important that it’s an umbrella for emerging talent or successful designers and also visitors. We’d like to build more of a cultural programme, and have more retail-facing aspects to it.
Will we ever see the likes of Burberry Prorsum come home?
If you look at LFW and what it was 10 years ago and what it is now, where it’s the coolest fashion week in the world, it would be fantastic to think we could encourage the likes of Burberry to show in London. And there’s a real sense that that could happen.