As London’s dedicated menswear week draws to a close, we look back on LC:M and outline why the city is proving to be one of the most exciting fashion cities on earth right now.

As London’s dedicated menswear week London Collections: Men draws to a close and fashion’s lens turns to the more prestigious cities of Paris, Milan and New York, we reflect on what makes the British capital’s fashion scene so exciting right now. With a breed of upstart designers fiercely carving a niche for themselves in the contemporary landscape – most notably the new crop of luxury streetwear designers that the city is so adept at producing – London’s fashion scene has never been in better health, and here’s five reasons why.

Streetwear is in its DNA

From the punks, mods and casuals right through to the modern day grime renaissance, London has a long street culture history, the presence of which can be felt all across the city’s (and world’s) fashion landscape. Whether it’s Cottweiler reinterpreting tracksuits through an avant-garde, minimalist lens, Nasir Mazhar’s no-holds-barred celebration of London’s diverse underground music scenes or Palace Skateboard’s throwback adidas athletic gear, London’s crop of young brands are reinterpreting their country’s illustrious subcultural heritage for the 21st century, spearheading a new wave of avant-garde streetwear in the process.

Breaking Gender Barriers

As the fashion world rediscovers its love for androgynous dressing, a new wave of British designers are challenging, and in some cases completely discarding, typical perceptions of gender. Perhaps it’s the legacy of Alexander McQueen’s historic “bumster” jeans reinterpreted for the 21st century male, but designer and Loewe creative director J.W. Anderson has made a name with his collections that draw attention to unexpected areas of the male body, as shoulders, waists and midriffs are exposed. Up-and-coming designer Rory Parnell-Mooney followed suit with a Spring/Summer 2016 show that revealed flesh in a similar fashion, and Astrid Andersen’s muscular boys marched down the runway in revealing sheer fabrics.

While the concept of androgynous dressing is nothing new, with transgender rights making their way into the pop culture spotlight thanks to the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, the questioning of traditional notions of binary gender has never been more relevant.

It’s a City in Turmoil

It’s often said that the greatest creativity comes from the darkest moments, and that can certainly be said for London. With spiraling rents, declining living standards and a new government hell-bent on making life as hard as possible for people who aren’t white, middle class and wealthy, the city is in the grips of conflict, and it’s fashion scene is responding the only why it knows how. Matthew Miller recently dropped a line of apparel bearing the fitting motto “Born To Fail,” whilst venting frustrations at red tape in his “Conform/Control/Constrict” Spring/Summer 2016 line, while Nasir Mazhar’s collection featured a diverse, multi-ethnic cast of models in defiance of what the designer dubbed an unhealthy standard of “Runways of skinny white people.”

High Meets Low

Whether it’s storied houses like Burberry and Alexander McQueen who have suddenly found themselves in the presence of fierce, younger competition, or the city’s undeniable love for Nike sneakers, the age old high/low cliché rings truer in London than anywhere else. One only needs to look towards a fondness for sneakers which has become increasingly prevalent not only throughout the streets of fashion week but on the catwalks themselves too. Innovative label Cottweiler were granted the blessing of debuting Nike’s as-yet-to-be-announced Tier Zero Air Huarache Carnivore.

Cultural Diversity

While New York is an ever-changing whirlpool of fickle trends and Paris and Milan hold the keys to the world’s opulent luxury houses, London’s spirit is above all one of diversity. It is a hugely diverse, fiercely independent city that has immense pride in its many unique movements – from grime MCs to aged Camden punks and Jamaican reggae heads – giving it an energy that cannot be found anywhere else, and ensuring that it’s designers have an ever-evolving, rich world of subcultures from which to draw inspiration from.

For more content from London Collections: Men, take a look at our street style report.

Words by Alec Leach
Freelance Writer/Editor/Consultant

Alec Leach grew up in Brighton, England, but now lives in Berlin