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London Fashion Week Men's buyer diary: day two

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There were no Sunday lie-ins for the fashion crowd, as day two of London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM) kicked off bright and early on 5 January at The Old Truman Brewery in east London.

Following a first day that included craft, creativity and theatre in equal measure, even Jonathan Van Ness, star of the Netflix TV show Queer Eye was up and about early for day two, and caused a stir, posing patiently for pictures while attending the morning’s shows and presentations.

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London is known for nurturing creative home-grown talent, but the first two shows of the day showcased talents from the Far East – South Korea and China – both of which have made London their bases.

Seoul-based Münn was first up. Its sustainable collection made use of everything from old rubber tyres to coffee bean bags in their collections.

Chinese label 8on8 followed, with a catwalk that echoed director Wes Anderson and his film The Grand Budapest Hotel, thanks to powder blue clad bellboys, and a saturated 1970s colour palette of rich mustards, purples and browns. Contrasting to this was the latest streetwear collaboration to grace the catwalks, with a vibrant, 1990s inspire collaboration with the heritage brand Kappa.

The “time warp” theme continued at a crowded presentation by Ahluwalia, which drew some of the busiest and most frenzied excitement of any show across the weekend.

Designer Priya Ahluwalia, who is known for her innovative use of repurposed materials, looked to the the mid-1960s in her autumn 20 collection, with geometric patterned knits and corduroy that also referenced her Nigerian, Indian, Caribbean and UK roots. Stand-out items included a knitted polo top and a patchwork parka coat.

Designers taking inspiration from their heritage was a recurring theme, seen in the “Videolight” presentation by Bianca Saunders, which featured old dancehall videos and models wearing oversized suit in relaxed silhouettes that allowed for movement, as well as a debut accessories collection of wire-framed bags.

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Wales Bonner autumn 20

Wales Bonner took similar inspiration from personal history, at what was perhaps the best-attended show of the day. The show drew international editors and buyers including Bergdorf Goodman, Matchesfashion to Westminster’s Lindley Hall, for looks that were inspired by African-Caribbean culture in 1970s London.

Elsewhere, the autumn 20 collection Qasimi, the last designed by Khalid al-Qasimi, was an emotional one. His twin sister, Hoor, is set to take over the brand’s creative direction following al-Qasimi’s death in July 2019.

The show featured a characteristically romantic, sophisticated urban aesthetic, in desert tones and distorted patterns across fluid, oversized shapes. After the show Hoor al-Qasimi took her bow wearing a jacket embroidered with phrase “the sun will rise again”.

Another of London’s top names closed the day, as it was back to school with Martine Rose, who ended the evening with a characteristic nod to 1980s rebellion, with contrasting pastel-coloured, frilled dress shirts and oversized blazers appearing alongside wet-look vinyl jackets and shirts and dramatic, distressed leather chaps.

Department store Browns’ buyer for New Gen (up-and-coming talent) Joe Brunner, was out and about once again at LFWM and shares his highlights from day two. 

How was today at LFWM?

Today was very much a continuation from yesterday. It was busy and shows were more or less back to back. The designers showed impressive growth building from previous seasons. New Gen designers [Priya] Ahluwalia, Bianca Saunders and Per Götessen were standouts.

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Bianca Saunders autumn 20

Which collections stood out today?

I thought Bianca’s show was fantastic: the models were moving to dancehall and bashment [music] with clean shapes that were very fluid, and the cuts felt like couture in the way they were finished. It was beautiful to look at.

Ahluwalia’s progression and understanding of her brand is brilliant to see for someone so new. It’s great to see that her heritage continually filters through into her designs, and them being conscious [sustainable] is no longer the main focal point.

Stefan Cooke’s knits and coats were amazing with the trademark slashing of the garments. The referencing behind their collections is unlike others on the calendar.

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Ahluwalia autumn 20

Are there any trends that you’ve spotted emerging so far?

IFor autumn 20 there weren’t too many move-ons from previous seasons. The usual suspects: big hats (both on the runway and in street style), leathers, high-waisted trousers, wide trousers still, and alternative tailoring have been at the forefront.

Are there any designers you are looking forward to seeing in the international menswear collections?

So many. I can’t wait to see all the brands we stock and more. Craig Green in Paris will be interesting. It’s always a talking point as he and the team always deliver something special.

Gucci being on the men’s calendar for the first time in a while is a refreshing update to Milan about which I’m excited. I’m also looking forward to Marine Serre’s menswear collection (showing in March): its post-apocalyptic referencing has been great to watch. Styling for spring 20 was a highlight so I’m hoping for more of the same.

What do you think makes LFWM stand out on the international scene?

The vast array of young talent. I know I’ve said it before, but it really is the unique selling point to London and it always will be. The designers here are the most exciting and are so expressive as their ceiling is unlimited. They are almost fearless in what they do. It’s very organic and uncompromising.

There is a lot of diversity in London, and LFWM along with its designers, embrace and champion this amazing heritage.

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