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London Fashion Week's alchemy of creativity and commerciality

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Buyers praised the energy, creative diversity and talent of the spring 18 edition of London Fashion Week, which finished yesterday.

During the packed 15-19 September schedule at venues across the capital, the Drapers team attended more than 60 catwalk shows, presentations and events.

There was a strong showing from both emerging talents – for which London is now known – and big-name global businesses. London Fashion Week opened with a shared catwalk show from two of its newest names – Richard Malone and Paula Knorr – who presented their debut collections, and finished with a bang at the “rock circus” of Tommy Hilfiger’s “see now, buy now” extravaganza, which took place at Camden’s Roundhouse.

Spring 18 was also a much more international season. Brands that typically show elsewhere, such as Ralph & Russo and Emporio Armani, joined Tommy Hilfiger in bringing their catwalk shows to the UK capital. At the same time there was a notable increase the numbers of buying and press teams from all around the world descending on the city.

Although Friday’s terrorist attack on a London Tube train was never far from people’s minds, the mood remained buoyant throughout the five days – a particularly well-organised schedule kept momentum up across the city.

Anti-fur protestors, who targeted the London Fashion Week base at 180 Strand, and the Burberry and Gareth Pugh shows to intimidate attendees, also failed to dampen the atmosphere.

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Burberry spring 18

This season many designers were successful in balancing their signature creative energy with their commercial imperatives. Local heroes Christopher Kane, Roksanda, Erdem and JW Anderson went from strength to strength, producing collections full of flair that will set industry trends, but were also packed with pieces that are already topping buyers’ order lists.

London headliner Burberry was also back on form with a youthful collection that resurrected its classic check.

Emerging brands continued to shine – Marques Alemeida, Molly Goddard, Rejino Pyo and Halpern particularly this season – while Faustine Steinmetz and Roberta Einer were among the new names of note.

“I love London Fashion Week for the spirit of creativity,” said Natalie Kingham, buying director at Matchesfashion. “There’s been a really upbeat energy this season and it’s great to see so many brands with a strong viewpoint.”

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Marques Almeida spring 18

“London has been super-strong,” added Selfridges’ womenswear buying manager Heather Gramston. “[It] is an important market for discovering newness.” Her highlights included Rejino Pyo, Christopher Kane and Supriya Lele at Fashion East.

“The key people are here and there aren’t the same question marks around London that seemed to surround New York Fashion Week this season,” said Harvey Nichols head of womenswear Hazel Catterall. “Everyone recognises the importance of London as a creative source rather than a roll call of blockbuster names, and that gives the freedom to experiment and to play a little more.”

“It’s been a great couple of days so far with good energy. It’s busy and fun,” commented Browns’ womenswear buying director Ida Petersson. “I am always so impressed with the talent that’s coming out of London,” she added, highlighting Roksanda, Marques Almeida, Ashish, Burberry, Molly Goddard and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.

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