This season, the menswear shows were rife with cultural references and gender fluidity, as seen at Wales Bonner, Nicholas Daley and Edward Crutchley. Active and sportswear influences also continued to firmly mark their territory amongst numerous labels, and the city’s shrewdest young designers stuck to their signature anarchic street styles including KTZ, Astrid Andersen and Liam Hodges. Others such as John Lawrence Sullivan stepped out of the topical mould, looking to sleek tailoring with a contemporary eighties twist. Discover our roundup of the stand-out collections gracing the SS18 runways.
This season, Astrid Andersen opted for an urban safari theme, complete with sun-shade hats with floor-length protective veils. But nothing is ever one-dimensional for Danish-born Andersen, who has a knack for refined detail and often interweaves a range of influences into each collection. Grounded in her signature sports-luxe aesthetic, the collection was elevated with velvet track pants, technical silk tracksuits, metallic lace muscle vests and floral-printed bomber jackets - all in a dusty colour palette of muted khakis, seafoam blues and olive greens. The pieces were further pulled together by greige PVC coats, graphic basketball inspired motifs and stacks of chunky wooden cuffs by Danish accessories brand ‘Monies’, striking a perfect balance between structured sports silhouettes and delicate detail.
Evolving from her trademark opulent embellishments, Wales Bonner went sleek and minimal for her SS18 collection, choosing instead to incorporate richness through the fabrics themselves. Lean tailoring with slightly relaxed cuts in buttery leathers, crisp poplin and patches of suede, were thrown off-kilter with subtle changes in details and silhouettes. There were unusual placements of chest pockets, buttons placed unconventionally higher or lower than expected and trousers ever so slightly flared at the base. All in all, the collection spoke volumes in sophisticated male sensuality and simplicity, featuring stark colours of optic white, military greens and blacks, with flashes of cobalt blue thrown in, in the form of figurative abstract prints. Remaining with her signature sensibility to male fluidity and black culture and history, this season’s collection was an ode to writer James Baldwin’s legacy and the queer creatives of colour who followed his example.
JOHN LAWRENCE SULLIVAN
With expert tailoring at the focus of John Lawrence Sullivan’s SS18 collection, there was a clear nod to eighties anarchic punk, blended with nineties-esque slouchy-cool power suiting. Exaggerated shoulders made a bold comeback statement, as did Mod-inspired bomber jackets, distressed leather two pieces combos, check and pinstripe suits and battered leather biker jackets. Other eighties influences appeared in the form of chunky buckle leather boots and large metal hole belts. With silhouettes sleek but domineering, the Japanese brand, helmed by designer Arashi Yanagawa, presented its own flip on formal wear, that though steeped in retro references and motifs, had a contemporary inclination keeping it far from being dated.
More anarchy was seen at KTZ SS18, this time with an air of post-apocalyptic type punk and a strong streetwear appeal - a true reflection of the label’s signature tough aesthetic. Urban utilitarian styles surfaced in the form of bomber jackets emblazoned with military-esque graphic prints and symbols; army green hooded parkas were shrouded in obscure block capital lettering. The standout features for the collection came in the form of heavy metal details; jagged metal stitchings were made to look like giant staples haphazardly strewn across edges and seam lines, and Chainmail trimmings dripped from hemlines or baseball caps, or were fashioned into vests - made entirely from soda can ring pulls.
Christopher Raeburn embraced a spirit of adventure this season, presenting a collection inspired from a book by Polish Army Lieutenant Slavomir Rawicz, titled The Long Walk. The book chronicles an adventurer’s journey across the Gobi desert and the Himalayas, trekking 4000 miles from Siberia to India. Carefully constructed from geometric puzzle pieces of recycled pre-flown kite materials, the collection was reworked into macs, anoraks, parkas and tracksuits, reflecting a practicality of garments that could withstand extreme outdoor conditions. Other pieces were fashioned from cooling cotton to protect wearers from harsh sunrays, in colour palettes of khaki camo print, blacks, greys and whites, as well as bursts of fluorescent coral suggestive of high-visibility safety-wear. To finish off the looks, the ethically conscious label teamed up with footwear brand Palladium to create a line of boots made from recycled PET coated leather, organic cotton and a three-way layering system, allowing the shoes to be worn as either boots or sandals.
There was a strong emphasis on outdoor activity and camping inspired motifs for Cottweiler SS18, re-adapted with a sense of urban minimalism. Featuring cargo trousers, track pants, desert caps, wind jackets and bicycle shorts, the functional sportswear pieces were given a touch of refined luxury with lizard brooches and chokers covered in sparkling aquamarine stones. Foil blankets - usually used for warming up the body - were worn as an accessory, and the whole collection was grounded by sleek strapped trainers, designed in collaboration with sportswear veterans Reebok.
Though only the label’s third menswear offering, designer Edward Crutchley boasted a sophisticated design aesthetic deeply rooted in tradition and craftsmanship. His SS18 collection seamlessly interlaced references to numerous historical periods from around the globe, including the Victorian, Elizabethan, Tudor and Jacobean Eras, as well as borrowing elements from Chinese folklore, traditional Japanese dress and prints inspired by the ethnic tribes of Borneo. Epitomising contemporary luxury with reimagined historical motifs, Crutchley used a plethora of fabrics and techniques to create a genderless collection, including lurex and a floral jacquard bridal Uchikake style robes, oversized silk twill granddad shirts, chintzed nylon tracksuits, reflective nylon cropped bomber jackets, 17th century inspired court dresses, draping Sumo pants and oversized wool and mohair suits. The pieces were grounded by delicate prints and patterns, featuring monkey medallions, foliage and blooms, completely blurring the line between graceful femininity and masculine silhouettes.
For his second showing on the London men’s schedule, A-COLD-WALL* stayed true to the label’s trademark, which deeply reflects the clashing of class and environment in the British landscape. This season’s collection brought a harsh reality check, exploring relevant political matters surrounding classism, city living and opportunity in light of recent Brexit politics and the general elections. Clashing streetwear and blue collar references with white collar office worker elements, the collection was a play on the mundanity of nine to five workplace routines, and a declaration of discontentment that comes with professional life and class disparities in Britain. A-symmetrical suit jackets were paired with baggy track pants; cropped khaki nylon anoraks and wind breaker hoodies featured cut-away fronts, revealing flashes of crisp white shirts beneath. Overcoats, blazers and trousers were cut and skewed with geometric panel cut-outs and replaced with clear PVC, and cropped t-shirts were crumpled beneath crisply ironed suit jackets.
A recipient of this year’s NEWGEN sponsorship, Nicholas Daley made his LFWM debut with a collection rich in layers, textures and colours, informed by his mixed cultural heritage. Fueled by extensive research from the V&A museum, Daley sourced materials from British mills and worked in collaboration with traditional Scottish kilt designers Glenisla. Selecting a highly diverse cast of models to present his work, the collection featured mish-mashed patchwork coats and blousons, with roomy shirts and relaxed cut trousers, and was accessorized with chunky knit beanies, wide-brimmed hats and droopy tote bags.
“I started looking into all sorts of different outdoor activities. Climbers, golfing – it was about making the ordinary extraordinary again,” explained Rose about her SS18 collection. Unconventionally showcased at a community climbing gym in east London's Tottenham Hale, the SS18 collection had a mixture of inspirations including Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, dressed in his now-iconic Wilson windbreaker shellsuit, as well as images from Canadian photographer Trevor Hughes, who documented bike messengers and Toronto's underground rave scene in the 80's and 90's. Featuring a rich colour palette of bold block primary colours, the collection was composed of utilitarian activewear including Lycra cycling shorts, windbreakers and dad fleeces, wide knee-length khaki shorts with cargo pockets, leather bombers, and signature ROSE logo printed T-shirts and belt buckles. These athleisurewear staples were blended with oversized wide-shouldered suits reminiscent of mundane schoolboy and bike mesenger uniforms.