London Fashion Week Mens designer Liam Hodges discusses the evolution of his brand and how he is taking his business to the next level.
If you wandered down central London’s South Molton Street last month, you would have come across a supersized X-ray of menswear designer Liam Hodges’ face and missing front teeth covering the windows of designer shop Browns. Inside, the same graphic X-ray print is emblazoned across signature baggy T-shirts and roomy bomber jackets from the 6 ft 6 inch 28-year-old’s eponymous brand.
I ask Hodges how it feels to go from graduating from London’s Royal College of Art MA course a little over three years ago to seeing his face splashed across one of London’s most famous retailers, and to have his designs selling inside.
“It’s all quite strange,” he says with his trademark gap-toothed smile, the result of a cycling accident. “When I was graduating, I didn’t really want to get a job, so I applied for [Lulu Kennedy’s talent incubator scheme] Fashion East. I put together a collection with them for spring 14, and it’s just sort of spiralled from there.”
Liam Hodges, spring 17
By “spiralled” Hodges is referring to the growth of his business in typically modest style. His debut spring 14 collection was immediately picked up by Tokyo retailer Gr8, and by spring 15 London’s Dover Street Market was one of 10 prominent global stores to stock the label. Today it is sold in 30 shops, from Los Angeles to Seoul, from Russia to Australia.
Spring 17 felt like a turning point for the emerging brand as it not only staged its first solo catwalk show at London Fashion Week Men’s, but also refined its DIY, “cut and paste” style, developing it into an elevated take on casual utility dressing.
“In the beginning I wanted everything to be completely new every collection, but realised the customer would come back to something totally different and not have a relationship to us as a brand,” explains the designer. “For spring 17 we reined it all in and made a much smaller collection, focusing on the quality of our core product: the hoodie, the tracksuit, the T-shirt.”
Liam Hodges, spring 17
And it paid off. “I’ve had my eye on Liam’s work for a while, but spring 17 is our first season stocking his collection and it’s already selling very well,” says Browns menswear buyer Lee Goldup. “I like its youthful aesthetic and Liam’s experimentation with shape and proportion. The spring 17 collection is his strongest to date.”
Hodges built on this for autumn 17 with a gradual evolution of the product. Signature patchwork hoodies, tracksuits and graphic printed T-shirts all reappear, alongside new padded jackets and knitwear lifted by a hand-drawn take on camouflage and pops of zesty yellow (wholesale prices range from £40 for T-shirts to £450 for a mink-trimmed jacket.
The brand seems to be hitting its stride, and buyers agree: “We’re so glad we bought into Liam Hodges now,” says Browns buyer Goldup. “His autumn 17 collection is even stronger.”