London Collections: Men SS14 Report

This time it's all about the boys! We check out what you'll be wearing next spring/summer

Gallery by Rena Niamh Smith | 01 Jul 2013

London Collections: Men, official title of London’s menswear fashion week, may be only three seasons young, but it already carries itself with an effortless charisma that belies its short history. The event was held between The Old Sorting Office, The Hospital Club and Victoria House across three days, a schedule packed with presentations, catwalk shows and parties.

The dapper gents strolling around Bloomsbury were out to see some great clothes and wear some even better ones while seeing them, with none of the elbow-shoving frantic pace of the women’s week. Shows were more or less on-time, exhibitions tastefully curated, and by way of official pass, visitors wore a subtle pin badge in place of garish lanyards.

Once a dashed-through day stitched on to the end of women’s week, London Collections: Men gives the proper breathing space for the wealth of talent on offer. “It’s going really well, and I’m really proud,” model David Gandy told The Skinny at the Xander Zhou show. “It’s a really great thing to be part of and it’s going from strength to strength.”

Positioned ahead of men’s weeks in Florence, Milan and Paris, attendees were bright eyed and bushy-tailed. Designer Tom Lipop reckons the position is great for business too. “I think it’s nice that we get to start off as opposed to just sitting on the end of a Fashion Week for womenswear, because by the time womenswear is here, everyone has closed their books,” he said. “There’s a lot more help and advice from London Fashion Week and the BFC, there’s definitely a lot of focus on London, which is nice.”

Masculine dressing is a craft London has famously helped create, right from the first Savile Row suit. Today, on-the-rise talent is making a name for the city of London as centre for keep as is creative design. Here, we select our choice of the ones to watch.

Lou Dalton
Dalton kicked off the week in the basement of Victoria House. She took direction from the RAF, inspired by the area in which she grew up, near an aircraft base. The collection mixed functional sportswear shapes with utilitarian elements and added a bohemian twist. A quilted jacket in acid-wash cotton was stitched to resemble tyre tracks. At the same time, Jacquard added an eccentric dash of luxury, and dark greys and heavy Grenson boots were contrasted with a whimsical lilac shade. Lou’s assistant Carla explained: “This story is about a young guy with a dad in the RAF, who’s supposed to be following his footsteps but never actually gets there, goes to art school, does the whole indie kind of, you know, finds-himself route, so it’s a mix of all the influences.” It was a celebration of the military look, with a subverted twist. “Lou’s always rooting for the underdog,” Carla said. “This is about a boy trying to find himself.”

Astrid Andersen
Danish designer Andersen is known for a masculine sports-aesthetic – specifically basketball influenced pieces pulled off with shoulder heavy swagger. Models’ foreheads positively gleamed with sweat as they strolled out in the long shorts and wide vests made in luxury fabrics, whether silky smooth or thick and boxy. For Summer 2014, Astrid visited an exhibition on crystal production in Italy, where she took reference from the strength and beauty of the gemstones. “There were these miners talking about the crystals in videos, and it was amazing, it was almost like they were talking about a woman,” she said. “They would do anything to find these colours or these stones. I thought it was really interesting, the contrast between something so delicate and these hard mine workers.” Working a digital realisation of crystals into a camouflage-like print onto a super-luxe nylon used in classic sports shapes, are these clothes to work out in? With those metal arm bands and lip piercings we’re not sure, but the fur rucksacks in ice white were a stroke of sweat-busting genius.

Christopher Raeburn
Recipient of the prestigious Fashion Forward award, Raeburn kicked up a sandstorm with his utilitarian range inspired by the Long Range Desert Group. These heroes of the second world war fought under extreme conditions; for the modern man it's an interpretation verging at times between form and function. Satellite images of the desert were re-thought into a digital print and emblazoned on to suit jacket and shorts. Meanwhile, anoraks and rucksacks played their part. The collection included appropriated surplus military fabrics, including original 1950s rubberised cotton for a bomber and suit jacket, and parachute material paired with army mesh.

Christopher Shannon
Down at the Old Sorting Office, the inspiration for Central Saint Martin's graduate Shannon was the anything-goes culture of clubbing in Liverpool and Manchester at Cream, Garlands and Paradise, which they described as “experimental, post-rave, pre-high street.” Think baggy silhouettes re-mixed in PVC and translucent rubber, bright greens, oranges and pinks. Models sported sprayed-in glitter in their hair; branding and psychedelic colours were emblazoned on to stand-out print sweaters. Expect a Topman knock-off coming soon to a store near you: the bucket hat made a comeback, made exclusively by New Era. The 90s are
back, with all the hedonism of pre-Twitter teenage kicks.

Tom Lipop for River Island
River Island Designer Forum has this season given a platform to emerging talent Lipop. The collection was unveiled in a film screening in the basement at The Hospital Club in which a model stumbles around impoverished buildings in the Californian desert – a boldly creative take for the high street giant. With Lipop known for his exceptional pattern cutting techniques and a muted take on tailoring, the range includes smart classic designs with an understated edge. “I wanted to do something similar to what we do in the cutting sense but something we could offer kind of to the mainstream,” Tom said. See the film at River Island’s website; collection in store from early September.‎