London Collections: Men pays a visit to Edinburgh.
Since its inception a mere 3 seasons ago, London Collections: Men has done wonders to raise the profile of British menswear. Traditionally tacked onto the end of London Fashion Week – that is, traditionally once the buyers had already blown their budget for the season – suddenly the men’s shows are more than just an exercise in PR.
And with so many fantastic emerging and established menswear designers on our shores, it’s about time too. London Collections: Men is a much-needed platform for our designers to showcase their talent; not only to the British market but to a growing audience worldwide, as buyers increasingly turn to the UK for a slice of the next big thing. In just one year LC:M, led by chairman and GQ Editor Dylan Jones and supported by the British Fashion Council, has succeeded in becoming an established part of the international fashion calendar and is creating a buzz in what is a rapidly expanding part of the luxury market (and already trickling down to the high street – John Lewis showed at LC:M last season).
Harvey Nichols is spreading the word, taking an impressive selection of fashion’s hottest menswear talent on a tour of the UK: Casely-Hayford, Lou Dalton, Katie Eary, Mr. Hare, James Long and Bernstock Speirs. Edinburgh kicked off proceedings with a menswear spectacular during the Fashion Festival last week, which was a real highlight in the fortnight of events. The lovely folks at Harvey Nichols invited me along to interview the designers before the event, but more on that soon – for now, I thought I’d share some pictures of the evening and a bit about each designer. First up, a picture of the hilarious Mr. Hare posing with some seafood:
His interview was a laugh a minute. And just take a closer look at those shoes:
Marc Hare always had a thing for shoes. He worked in fashion PR and marketing, as well as having a previous career as a surfer (‘I’d actually say I’m more professional as a surfer than a fashion person’) and a few years ago he decided to set up his own shoe company. I won’t go on about his story as you can read it here, but his shoes really are something else, combining exceptional craftsmanship (each pair is handmade in Italy) with style and a sense of humour. Personally, I think womenswear could do with a Mr. Hare.
Mr. Hare chatted away with customers and even turned shoe salesman for a bit (I think I spotted him proffering someone a shoehorn). That was what was so great about the event, as designers mingled with customers, having a blether and telling the stories behind the clothes. (And it was even Mr. Hare’s birthday – Happy Birthday Mr. Hare!)
If there’s one particular style dominating men’s fashion at the moment it’s sporty streetwear, which was abundant at the event on models and shoppers alike. One brand embracing this is Casely-Hayford – just look at that detail above. The father-son design duo Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford describe their work as a combination of English satrorialism and British anarchy; exquisite tailoring with a rebellious spirit.
Charlie describes this as their ‘modern craft’ for the modern man who purposefully resists definition; their contemporary customer is the sum of all his tastes and interests. Casely-Hayford is certainly tapping into a moment – the British style mentality that’s sartorially savvy but a bit rough round the edges. On a design level, the place where these two generations meet is intriguing.
Lou Dalton had one of the hottest ticket shows this season and is regularly touted as a one to watch. I think she really gets what men that are a little more style-conscious really want: think sporty separates and exquisite detailing that’s actually wearable.
We had a great chat about the Scottish influences and materials she has used in her autumn/winter collection (you’ll have to wait until I publish the interviews in full for more!) The colour palette was predominantly muted, and gave real precedence to the gorgeous textures.
I think it’s all about little details in menswear – something slightly different that makes you stand out without looking like you’ve tried too hard. Lou Dalton gets this spot on every time; she seems to know what men don’t even know they want (and she has impeccable style to boot).
Another designer who seems fascinated by the details is James Long. His pieces are bold and directional, with a relaxed take on tailoring and focus on texture.
There was a real buzz around the designer who ably modelled a look from his SS14 collection – everyone wanted his mesh hoodie with embroidered detail.
James Long stands out with his unique blend of sport and streetwear elements and exquisite techniques – stunning embellishment, eye-catching embroidery and clever cuts. Like the designer his clothes have a real sense of fun.
Streetwear is at the core of Katie Eary’s designs too, but with an all important glamorous spin that’s become her trademark. Her eye-popping SS14 collection, Flamingo Massacre, was one of the most talked about at LC:M.
Each piece is bespoke, hand made by Eary herself. This couture approach is really setting her apart. I absolutely love her no-nonsense attitude, which comes across in her designs. Bold use of pattern, unapologetic use of colour – her clothes speak to a generation of men who were dying to be that bit more adventurous. Events such as LC:M and LC:M On Tour are harnessing this excitement and spirit of fun and I think nothing sums that up better than Eary’s designs.
To cap it all off (!) was Bernstock Speirs with their eye-catching headwear. Hats are having a menswear moment; beanies were the It accessory at LFW and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the men going mad for brightly coloured beanies next. Bernstock Speirs got there first though. Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs have been challenging traditional millinery and dressing East London’s most stylish heads since 1982 with their innovative, witty take on classic styles – veiled visors, bow bobble hats, stripy trilbies and tartan beanies. Of course it was all about the men but after a wee look on their website I’m eyeing up one of their bow beanies (or maybe a veiled one – think I can pull it off?!)
The menswear department was practically heaving – male fashion loving fans are clearly abundant in Edinburgh. Thanks to Harvey Nichols and EIFF for an amazing evening and the opportunity to meet some truly engaging and articulate menswear designers. Just think where LC:M could go from here.