Though no designers at London Collections: Men are exactly identical in their style, there are certainly a few that share several common sartorial denominators. You can tell the fundamental reference points are similar and that they used to go to the same club nights, or watch similar films. Lee Roach
, though, is unique — at least in London — when it comes to his dark, protective and slightly futuristic approach to menswear. We’re not in the business of generalizing here, but Roach has developed a characteristic love of simple black tailoring over the last few seasons, most of it with his characteristic exclusion of lapels. Using predominately man-made and high-tech fabrics, the Central Saint Martins-educated designer has begun creating his own universe. For good and for bad, Lee Roach is a very tribal designer, his disciples part of a specific club that share his view of not only clothes and music, but life in general.
Roach often takes a dark and minimal approach to his designs, but not in a Jil Sander or Helmut Lang kind of way. Mostly black, but with red and khaki as accent colors for Spring/Summer 2015, Roach has developed a raw and “less is more” look, which is very much visible in his tailoring. With his alternative neck line, the pieces have been scaled back in terms of details. Straps close the jackets instead of buttons. But within its simplicity, the collection can still be heard loud and clear; these are not quiet and shy garments, more like subtle statement pieces.
Hi Lee, do you want to just talk me through the starting point—what was your main inspiration?
With every collection we start with the fabrics. The development of the fabrication is so important, especially as everything I do is unstructured and unlined.
So what were the key fabrics for SS15?
The linens. There’s a light-weight Italian linen which is double-faced, so it’s a virgin linen-wool mix. I really like the idea of using linen and jersey in the same season — not necessarily within the same look, but within the same collection. It takes away the formality at the traditional expectations of linen…
So you take the fabric and you find a new place for it?
Yes, a new way of using it. A new way to wear it. Using linen in that unstructured way gives it that really nice soft silhouette, but when combining it with things like the zips and the poppers, all of a sudden it’s more industrial.
There were linen, yes, but generally speaking, you are more known for using man-made fabrics, no?
This collection is almost 50/50 in the sense that there’s a lot of cotton, linen, then you’ve got nylon and technical jersey, Japanese cotton with the cotton mix. It’s very much about mixing those rather than being defined by them.
Can you explain the symbols used in this collection?
They come from the idea of uniforms, whether it be military or sport. The idea of within those you have these very strong graphics, either identify yourself or just to label something. There’s always a linear line throughout the collections and it was just kind of about furthering that and then mixing them with these vertical graphics.
If it’s branding, it’s quite minimal branding…
I think that’s important and for me that’s the modern way to do it. It comes from the idea of protection; the hoods and jackets are all made from very lightweight fabrics so you’re protecting yourself in a very lightweight way. In the city that’s what we all wear. I like the idea in using that in the context of summer as well.
Your lapel-less tailoring is very characteristic, can you explain the reasoning behind it?
Yes, I want to reduce everything. From the very beginning it’s always been about the idea of reduction and eliminating elements. That’s why everything is completely unlined. This season we’ve taken it that step further where now the interior doesn’t even have bindings, it’s as pure as it can be. It comes from the cut of the pattern from the very beginning. That in itself is new, it’s not just taken from a classic tailoring block, and that’s where the idea of doing away with lapels comes from.
Have you got a key collection piece?
For me I wouldn’t say there’s one, I think there’s elements you can clearly see whether it be the simplicity of a hood, or a fastening, or something that introduces you to something more simplistic.