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Comment: Finding the future at London Fashion Week Men's

Qasimi spring 20

The spring 20 edition of London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM), which took place on 7-10 June, officially kicked off the new menswear buying season with a strong and steady edition that focused the spotlight on fashion’s future.

With most of the weekend’s shows concentrated at The Old Truman Brewery in the east of the city, and tentpoled on Monday by London’s buzziest name Craig Green and A Cold Wall – the latter of which was announced as the winner of the British Fashion Council/GQ Designer Menswear Fund this week – attendance was steady across the catwalk shows and presentations.

Although the withdrawal of some big-name businesses has left gaps in the menswear schedule over recent seasons, the designers on show for spring 20 still drew in the UK’s biggest retailers, who were out in force. Buying teams from Selfridges, Matchesfashion, Browns, Liberty London and influential independent End were spotted, as were international buyers from America’s Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, Moda Operandi (US), Opening Ceremony (US), United Arrows (Japan), and French retailers Printemps and Galeries Lafayette.

The new season marks the beginning of a new decade in fashion, as designers and brands revealed their collections for the spring of 2020, but what did this season of LFWM tell us about menswear today?

First, that London remains the home of fashion’s future, maintaining its title as the industry’s hotbed for new, emerging talent and creative design leadership. Once again, London showcased and supported a diverse range of designers and brands that ran the gamut from debuts and recent graduates, to established businesses elevating and evolving their collections, in a way that no other city does.

Bigger names such as Chalayan, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this season, Italian brand Iceberg, London’s Oliver Spencer and Alexander McQueen, which returned to London with an intimate presentation, were present, although the tightened, edited schedule meant promising newcomers including Eastwood Danso, Stefan Cooke, Saul Nash, Bianca Saunders and Robyn Lynch were given a platform to shine. Designers such as Liam Hodges, Paria Farzaneh and Edward Crutchley also impressed.

Germany’s T/Sehne and South Korea’s Munn were some of the international brands that joined the schedule, showing that LFWM does not just excel at creative diversity, but diversity itself, thanks to its international appeal as an important fashion week platform.

Labels such as Craig Green, A Cold Wall, Qasimi, Martine Rose and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy moved their businesses forward with strong, elevated collections that smartly captured each brand’s unique selling points via a focus on commercially appealing pieces. The crowds of buyers queuing in the early morning rain on Monday to see Green’s latest collection, which included the designer’s debut Adidas sneaker collaboration, was testament to the quality of this edition.

Craig green spring 20

Craig Green spring 20

As we look to 2020, this LFWM also showed that sustainability and ethical considerations are becoming ever more important, particularly to the next generation of designers and brands. Ahluwalia Studio, designed by 2018 graduate and H&M Design Award 2019 winner Priya Ahluwalia, impressed with a collection that featured recycled silk scarves reworked into shirts, while Studio ALCH, led by Australian designer Alexandra Hackett, re-used old plastic bags, heat pressing them to create a new fabric that was worked into eye-catching jackets.

New brand Oculāris, which launches for spring 20, used recycled fabrics and focuses on UK manufacturing, while Bethany Williams, who won this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design in February, used ocean waste plastic yarn and recycled denim yarn (knitted by hand by her mum), as well as working with several programmes, such as San Patrignano, a drug rehabilitation community in Italy, which weaved recycled textiles from old tenting.

The buzz around LFWM, and menswear-focused fashion weeks in general, may have quietened over recent seasons, but this edition showed that London’s future – with its blossoming businesses and promising new generation of designers – is in good hands.

Studio alch spring 20

Studio ALCH spring 20

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