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Menswear treads a familiar path on London catwalks

The menswear season kicked off this week with London Collections: Men offering a first glimpse of spring 14.

Congratulations are due to the British Fashion Council for establishing in just three seasons an event of the calibre of LCM, which improves each season and is now a must-attend for many key international buyers and the press.

To have created this kind of buzz in such a short space of time is a real achievement and this season’s shows were the slickest yet. It is also more fitting than ever that men should have their own separate fashion event at a time when menswear is outperforming womenswear in many areas. The UK’s men are becoming more fashion forward and engaging with brands as never before.

For spring 14 Burberry left Milan and brought its menswear show to London for the first time since LCM launched.

This is a real testament to the strength of the event, since the brand has no doubt been weighing up how successful LCM was before deciding to commit.

It was also great to see John Lewis and Marks & Spencer showing alongside Topman, giving the event a more grounded feel and sounding the gong for the high street. But what of this year’s crop of catwalk looks themselves?

The idea that menswear now gets a separate event offers so much opportunity to do something a bit different with the shows, and bring a bit of fashion daring to some of the looks. After all, often these catwalks act as inspiration rather than a shopping list for buyers. However, most designers played it very safe and commercial, and some of the venues outshone the clothing they were meant to form a backdrop for.

I understand that designers often use their womenswear as an inspiration for their menswear, but I did feel I’d seen a lot of these looks, shapes and colours before, just reworked for the male shape.

I have to mention the JW Anderson show. The designer made headlines at last season’s LCM with his boob tubes and frilly skorts for men, and consistently delights at his London Fashion Week womenswear shows. But at this year’s LCM he was talked about for all the wrong reasons.

Anderson’s collection drew such close inspiration from his womenswear that at some points the collections must surely be interchangeable - I had my eye on the silk patterned halterneck tops for my own wardrobe. But my main issue was with the models used on the catwalk.

To say they were painfully thin is an understatement. While I was pleased at the last LFW to see female models on the whole looking more healthy than they had in the past, these male models made the audience wince.

The chat as the crowd moved off to the next show was almost entirely about the size of the models, not the clothing.

I really do hope this isn’t going to become a feature of the men’s fashion world.

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