As the Spring/Summer 2016 edition of LC:M has just wrapped, it seemed an appropriate time to recap the 20 English brands that every Highsnobiety reader should know. Peep our list to find out why it's London's time to shine.
With all eyes on London for the recent Spring/Summer 2016 edition of LC:M, we decided to recap the 20 British brands that every Highsnobiety reader should be familiar with. The country's cultural DNA, social climate, and artistic diversity are three of the factors that have lent themselves to an uprising of powerful creative expression in recent years, to the point where London is able to stand toe-to-toe with fashion hubs like Paris or Milan. The bottom line is, London is one of the most exciting cities for fashion in 2015. Cultural arbiter Virgil Abloh recently spoke on the topic at a Selfridges workshop, declaring that it is London's time to shine, while Japan, New York, and Los Angeles are arguably being eclipsed - for the time being.
Of course names like Clarks Originals, Fred Perry and Dr Martens will always be closely binded with heritage apparel in the UK, however looking to the realm of high fashion, there is no shortage of buzzing designers in the English capital, while streetwear and the culture surrounding it are throughly alive and kicking down doors. Streetwear has died and been reborn more than once, and today it is London leading the charge.
Palace Skateboards has skyrocketed to the upper echelons of streetwear in recent seasons, coinciding gainfully with the current renaissance in popularity of skateboarding culture within fashion. While many would maintain that owner Lev Tanju is simply making clothing so that the Palace skate team only has to worry about kick, pushing their way around London, Palace certainly owes much of its popularity to the crossover between streetwear and skateboarding. In 2015, Palace opened the doors to its London flagship store, which further underscored the brand as an important constituent in the London community.
Lazy Oaf's bread and butter has always been funky, offbeat graphics and crazy patterns. From Bart Simpson appropriations to googly-eyed, fluffy, pink bucket hats, Lazy Oaf's product is completely unabashed at the core, while each collection includes menswear, womenswear and accessories, allowing the offbeat brand to have quite a broad appeal.
Since 2008, Grind London has communicated an honest depiction of London streetwear, endeavouring to meld original visual concepts with the brand’s own roots and culture. Finding inspirational cues through a wide variety of nuances and cultures that are native to the English capital, Grind has successfully created its own design language that is used across wardrobe basics like T-shirts, hoodies, button-ups, coach jackets and more.
a number of names*
A number of names has been a fixture in London for some time, acting in varying roles as a distributor, showroom, brand and retailer since it was established in 2008. Founder Craig Ford has been heralded as one of London's most influential fashion insiders, and is commonly credited with helping bring A Bathing Ape into the UK. at a time when the Japanese brand was not available on the global level that it is today. Peep our recent Q&A with Craig Ford.
Satta's brand manifesto outlines a focus on small-scale production using sustainable fibres such as organic cotton, made for living in. As the brand's catalog also includes a range of core skate goods, Satta's apparel derives cues from skateboarding’s roots in the late '60s. All skate decks are handcrafted from locally sourced timber and screen-printed by hand.
Calling upon regional UK music genres like garage and grime to inspire his creations, Mazhar is often pointed to in exemplifying luxury streetwear. Mazhar also commonly injects sportswear motifs into his collections, often in the form of heavily branded trainers, nylon and mesh fabrics, and the athletic-inspired caps that were amongst Nasir's first ever creations when working in a Brick Lane hair salon. Mazhar even created headdresses and headwear for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London. Read about how Nasir Mazhar is defying stereotypes.
Headed up by Sam Ross - considered to be the protege of enigmatic multi-creative Virgil Abloh - A-Cold-Wall* is touted as one of the youngest and most exciting labels in London. Ross's CV includes projects with some names you may expect given his affiliation with Abloh, but not limited to Hood by Air, A.P.C., Been Trill, adidas, Theophilus London, Travi$ Scott, and of course OFF-WHITE. Make sure to watch the making of A-Cold-Wall*'s Spring/Summer 2015 lookbook.
The beginnings of first-mover label Maharishi pre-date even the phrase streetwear itself. Started in 1994 by Hardy Blechman, the brand has carried a strong graphic identity since day one, while Maharishi is often credited with early use of camouflage fabric, which was later picked up by a wider gamut of fashion brands. The brand's more accessible sub-label MHI constituted another chapter in the brand's success story.
Acid trip-inspired visuals, oversized fits, and vibrant colorways are all in a day's work for Carri Munden, designer and founder of Cassette Playa. While living in West London, Munden became close friends with Mathangi Arulpragasam (M.I.A.), who would go on to don her creations in several music videos. Munden's work with musicians has come to partially define the brand over time, as the unabashedly unique fashion label has received support from the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Riff Raff, Nelly Furtado and others.
Goods by Goodhood
Surely Goodhood put it best in saying "It's a London thing." Probably the city's most respected retailer, Goodhood started with one modest space in Coronet Street, but before long the retailer had sized up a bigger space on Shoreditch’s Curtain Road, before claiming a second store across the street dubbed the Goodhood Life Store. Completing the triangle is Goodhood's in-house label, aptly dubbed Goods by Goodhood, which incorporates lifestyle items, homewares, and apparel.
The brainchild of Andrew Bunney and Slam Jam’s Giovanni De Marchi, Roundel London peers through the lens of fashion to examine the iconography and history of the London Underground. Appropriating prints and graphics directly from the London Underground - including the famously bold seat upholstery found in the railway’s cars, which was used for a Nike Air Max collection - Roundel London actually actually delivers product that is more exciting than you may expect from a label that is inspired by public transportation.
Garbstore founder Ian Paley cut his teeth by handling production and consulting for companies like Paul Smith, Levi's, and Burberry, placing him in an excellent position to oversee the Garbstore line, when the time came. Beginning as a brick and mortar shop in London, Garbstore served as the foundation for an in-house label to be introduced, which is focused on the revival and restoration of vintage pieces and original fabrics. The label's strength lies in its ability to re-imagine vintage pieces and make them "historically new", while the Garbstore marque also co-opted with Reebok on a series of "inside-out" sneakers.
Nigel Cabourn is a bit of a legend. Hailing from the North of England, Cabourn's passion for craftsmanship, function, and utility is widely recognized, and this is clear through every fiber of his creations. For inspiration, Nigel looks to an archive of expeditionary gear, military apparel, and old-world garments, which he faithfully recreates for his seasonal collections. (Image: END.)
Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty’s Cottweiler label can be characterized as an innovative take on athletic gear that cites new age cults as inspiration. The garb itself is inherently simple, upholding function, fit, and fabrication, while rarely straying from an all-white aesthetic. The concept-led brand could even be described as the uniform of a new, contemporary religion, as explained by Dainty himself. Make sure to check out Cottweiler's LC:M presentation for Spring/Summer 2016.
London's Kokon to Zai - better known as KTZ - is a bit of an enigma in the fashion landscape. Dually operated by Marjan Pejoski and Sasko Bezovski, KTZ 's approach entails heavy use of monochromatic, textured patterns, often paired with oversized silhouettes. The brand has found favor with the likes of Jeremy Scott and Rihanna, and even offers a made-to-order program for select pieces.
Central Saint Martins graduate Craig Green got his first break through a Topman presentation at LC:M. These early creations - garments that largely embraced a minimalist aesthetic, often with dramatic tailoring - outlined the foundations of Craig Green's future menswear label. Since these beginnings, Green has continued to illustrate his affinity for freely-imagined garments, yet paradoxically his appreciation for consistency the idea of uniforms also bubbles to the forefront. Don't miss our coverage of Craig Green's Spring/Summer 2016 showing at LC:M.
Jonathan Anderson thrives off of perceived barriers; the barriers that exist in menswear that dictate what a designer should or shouldn't do. Creating a palpable atmosphere is Anderson's primary strength, and his ability to draw on varying themes only to re-package them into a coherent vision is an attribute that will continue to place the Northern Irish designer in the spotlight. Peep our coverage of J.W. Anderson's presentation for Spring/Summer 2016 at LC:M.
Gasius is the reincarnation of Gasface, a defunct graffiti-inspired company that produced hand painted T-shirts, started by Russel Maurice. As one of the first to produce graffiti-adorned apparel in the UK, Maurice's early days were spent cohorting with London's graffiti and skateboarding circles, and over the years his efforts slowly evolved into the more complete collection that Gasius is today. In terms of inspiration, Maurice draws upon an extensive catalog, ranging from '70s typefaces, vintage cars, early Disney, classic art and more.
30-year-old Rav Matharu is the mind behind London imprint Clothsurgeon. Matharu garnered the attention of the internet when he flipped four pairs of standard grey Nike fleece sweatpants into a suit jacket and pants set. Since then, Rav has utilized his adept tailoring abilities in creating several seasonal collections, a denim capsule collection and a set of MA-1 bomber jackets. Check out our conversation with Rav Matharu.
From season to season, Roach's love for simple black tailoring has remained unwavering. Continuing to gravitate toward man-made and high-tech fabrics, the emerging designer certainly seems to abide by the truism "less is more." As a Central Saint Martins alumnus, Lee's success also reinforces the idea that attending the prestigious college of art and design can be a key stepping stone for young guns in the fashion world. Check out our recent conversation with Lee Roach in London for LC:M.
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