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Comment: Diversity of design talent shines at London Fashion Week Men’s

Martine Rose spring 18

The spring 18 edition of London’s menswear showcase drew to a close on Monday with a strong and diverse mix new talent, rising stars and established local names.

The Drapers team attended well over 50 catwalks and presentations around the capital as London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM, formerly London Collections: Men) marked its fifth anniversary. The four-day event (9-12 June) culminated in Monday’s standout collection from Craig Green and a riotous catwalk spectacle from Vivienne Westwood.

Overall there was a positive mood and plenty of fantastic collections. However, while new figures from the British Fashion Council (BFC) and research firm Mintel suggest the UK men’s clothing market grew by 2.8% in 2016, topping £14.5bn for the year and now accounting for 27% (up 2%) of the total UK clothing market, there was a question mark over the future of LFWM.

Kent and Curwen spring 18

Kent and Curwen spring 18

Kent & Curwen spring 18

This was spurred in part by the exit of some big name brands from the schedule – Burberry has merged its men’s and women’s collections, and now only shows during the women’s event. This season also saw bright star – and international draw – JW Anderson decamp to Florence as menswear trade show Pitti Uomo’s spring 18 ”special guest” designer. Because of this, some argued that the spring 18 edition of LFWM lacked some “big” brands to “anchor” each day, and others questioned whether four days was too long.

Admittedly, the shows did seem to get off to a more sedate start. The main BFC venue had been rearranged to create a much larger and more open space, which, in combination with the BFC’s exhibition space’s cavernous entrance, meant the venue did not feel as packed as in previous seasons.

However, the spring 18 edition highlighted what LFWM does best. The diversity and strength of this season’s schedule really shone through and made for an exciting plethora of things to see. London’s buzzy names and emerging brands were given platforms to show off what they are best at, and rubbed shoulders with both established names and exciting new brands.

Vivienne Westwood spring 18

Vivienne Westwood spring 18

Vivienne Westwood spring 18

Day one was full of designers making their catwalk debut, including Tourne de Transmission, Berthold and Edward Crutchley. Oliver Spencer was another buyer’s favourite.

Day two welcomed the exuberant anarchy of Charles Jeffrey Loverboy’s debut solo catwalk alongside and a memorable Man show via Fashion East. E Tautz and Blood Brother were also highlights.

The buzz around designer Martine Rose drew crowds to Tottenham – a 45-minute drive outside of central London – for her fantastic show on day three, and other leading presentations included Kent & Curwen. The final day brought diverse debuts such as Nicholas Daley and A Cold Wall, alongside ascending star Craig Green and stalwart Vivienne Westwood, confirming that London is still a must- visit.

“I think it’s interesting to note that, with a lot of the bigger names decamping to womenswear fashion weeks, [LFWM] has become more about young talent. That should be celebrated,” argued Matchesfashion.com’s head of menswear Damien Paul.

“This season highlighted how eclectic and varied London designers are,” agreed Jack Cassidy, men’s designer and contemporary buyer at Selfridges. He added: “What I always look for is for a show to be memorable, original and creative, but for it to also have key commercial pieces that jump out.” This season, London certainly delivered.

Craig Green spring 18

Craig Green spring 18

Craig Green spring 18

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