Over the weekend, designers, models, buyers, and fashion journalists flooded to London for the first leg of the SS19 season that continues to Florence and Milan, before concluding in Paris at the end of the month. London Fashion Week Men's kicked off the schedule with a range of emerging talent such as Paria Farzaneh and Daniel W. Fletcher, as well as more familiar brands such as A-COLD-WALL* and Martine Rose.
We spoke to buyers from leading London retailers Machine-A, Browns, LN-CC and MATCHESFASHION.COM to see which brands were popping off, why London is a pivotal destination for new designers, and to get a pulse reading for LFWM at large.
How was LFWM this season and how did it compare to previous seasons?
Stavros Karelis, Machine-A: Creative, inspiring and pushing the boundaries. It's been a particularly good season for a lot of British brands and emerging designers, and the choice of venues added to this incredible atmosphere. I have to say it was one of my favorite seasons so far, and I think LFWM has found its place in the international calendar.
There is confidence and ownership of the fact that if anyone wants to see the emerging designers who will be the successes of tomorrow, LFWM is the place to be. This gives a freedom not to depend on movements from big high-end brands who choose to show or not during each season and still achieve a high level of guests, buyers and press by celebrating emerging talent!
Lee Goldup, Browns: London was great. There was a lot of positive energy and there were some really standout shows. We’ve already spotted a few initial trends and color palettes ahead of Pitti and are super excited for the season ahead.
Reece Crisp, LN-CC: I think it was a good season for LFWM. With the focus on emerging talent, I think the foundations are there to build on for future seasons. We just need more on the schedule.
Damien Paul, MATCHESFASHION.com: I think a lot has been said already about the lack of bigger names but I don’t think this has affected the schedule as it has provided an even greater platform for emerging talent to come through.
What were the strongest brands you saw? What are you most excited about and what brands are you looking to pick up?
Stavros Karelis, Machine-A: Xander Zhou was one of my top favorites - a designer I've appreciated for many years - as well as ACW & Samuel Ross, who did an incredible job. His show was a testimony of how one can run an extremely successful brand by exploring different levels of creativity and visual stimulation to his guests.
Another show I really enjoyed is Kiko Kostadinov, he is one of the most promising designers of his generation. Cottweiler came back with an extremely strong collection - definitely one of the strongest they have ever done - a duo that embodies, in the best possible way, sportswear and tailoring.
But if you see one show that represents what LFWM is about then that is Martine Rose. One of the most talented here and always so current with beautiful collections that has taken everyone by storm. Her location in a North London neighborhood was so on point and I am pleased she is part of LFWM. She is the best ambassador! I am looking into picking up ArtsSchool, part of the MAN show, as I think what they do is absolutely fantastic commenting on important cultural issues with beautiful collections.
Lee Goldup, Browns: My favorite shows were Liam Hodges, Kiko Kostadinov, A-COLD-WALL* and Martine Rose. I’m really excited to see how A-COLD-WALL* evolves as a brand as each season it’s getting stronger and stronger.
Reece Crisp, LN-CC: Martine Rose was the standout show. Amazing venue, great soundtrack, and the collection was the perfect blend of direction and commerciality. Can’t wait to see it in the showroom.
The Paria Farzaneh presentation was also a highlight. With catwalk shows becoming more stale as the seasons go by, presentations provide a break from the monotony. Paria executed her presentation brilliantly, really immersing the collection into her world.
Damien Paul, MATCHESFASHION.com: Cottweiller and Martine Rose both consolidated their vision with excellent (and very different) shows - we went from an acclaimed performance space on the South Bank to a leafy cul-de-sac in North West London within the space of an hour. I also have a soft spot for Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY - there is an energy to his shows and the performance always adds to his collection. We are always looking to support new talent as it is part of MATCHESFASHION.COM’s DNA. Watch this space.
What do London designers have to offer that the rest of the world doesn't? What London brands are selling well for you guys right now?
Stavros Karelis, Machine-A: I think it's the energy and inspiration. London designers are looking into an extremely rich culture and more importantly to an extremely rich subculture which is happening in different areas and places in London. In schools and universities. In the streets and in the clubs. In music, in theatre and in arts. In political and social issues. In gender discussions. I think for that reason London designers many times have created global trends because they normally are combined with an art or music movement or an important social issue so all of a sudden the rest of the world pays attention.
Some of our best selling London brands are Martine Rose, A-COLD-WALL*, Craig Green, Xander Zhou and Cottweiler.
Lee Goldup, Browns: There is a lot of creativity in London and it’s home to some of the most talented emerging designers out there. At Browns, we’re all about supporting and nurturing homegrown talent and it’s crucial that we celebrate and showcase the work of these designers. London brands continue to sell very well for us such as Martine Rose, Edward Crutchley, Kiko Kostadinov and Liam Hodges and we’re really excited to add A-COLD-WALL* to our roster for FW18.
Reece Crisp, LN-CC: London needs to position itself in the calendar as the testbed for emerging talent, and I think this weekend was a great advert for that. Raw talent, with clear distinguished aesthetics in each collection, provides more color than other cities.
Damien Paul, MATCHESFASHION.com: There’s a certain spirit that emerges in London. I do think a lot of designers really push themselves creatively and this can give a very individual take as they grow their collections. Look at someone like Martine Rose - since the moment we picked up the brand it’s really resonated with our global customer. There’s definitely an appetite for newness in menswear.
Can you put your finger on any particular reason there's such a unique energy to the city's menswear week?
Stavros Karelis, Machine-A: I think it's because the vast amount of talent that exists in this city. In London there are some of the best fashion universities worldwide like CSM, RCA, Westminster and others, and as a result the concentration of talent is great. Furthermore the BFC offers an excellent support system to the emerging designers through different initiatives and making sure to help and safeguard them until they reach a point they can move forward with long-term stability and long-term success.
Lee Goldup, Browns: There’s always a buzz in London as it comes first in the fashion calendar and with it brings an excitement of what’s to come. The London designers are never afraid to push the boundaries in terms of theatrics, show locations and styling.
Reece Crisp, LN-CC: It’s the first fashion week on the calendar, so I think it’s a combination of it being the first up, and the fact that it’s based around more niche designers. It’s all about the underdog…
Damien Paul, MATCHESFASHION.com: Firstly I think the British Fashion Council have always looked to provide space for new, emerging and often quite raw talent. This is quite rare. I also think as a city we reflect the broader culture and always have done - punk, rave, club culture are intrinsically linked to fashion and now gender fluidity is very much seen on the runway.
Special thanks to all the buyers for speaking to us. You can see some of the next level street style fits worn at LFWM right here.