London Collections: Men

...join NJAL at this weekend's menswear events live from London

Traditionally, London has been a city regarded highly for its bespoke tailoring and traditional menswear. After a brief romance with the Italians in the nineties and noughties, menswear has finally found a home again in London. This week marks the first installment of the British Fashion Council’s new initiative to promote and sustain high quality British menswear. London Collections: Men will be a showcase, on par with those in Paris or Milan, dedicated to supporting the menswear industry in the United Kingdom. Join us this week as NJAL reports directly from the shows and presentations, bringing new light to fresh faces and old in an exciting, fashion-filled weekend.

Friday, 15 June 11:43
Last night marked the official opening of the new London Collections: Men. In honour of the new efforts to support UK menswear, Prince Charles hosted a reception at his St James Palace, wishing luck to the designers about to embark on a new, menswear journey and congratulating those who have seen great success thus far. Although Prince Charles is not regularly recognized as a fashion icon, the idea was thrown about multiple times throughout the course of the evening. VIPs included Tom Ford, David Walliams, Tommy Hilfiger, and Tinie Tempah.

Friday, 15 June 16:01
Topman presented a colourful and sporty collection. Taking inspiration from the early days of skateboarding, prints, neon colours and shorts were the main focus of the range. Like a scene from Fast Times At Ridgemont High, the youthful pieces were reflective of teenage spirit. Fun outfits with bold colours, beanies and basketball inspired looks strutted down the catwalk.

Denim on denim was prominent in Martine Rose's SS13 collection. The designer drew inspiration from a large baroque marble sculpture by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This was evident in silhouettes and the construction of the garments. The use of orange and blue, and baggy trousers filled the collection with boyish charm.

Friday, 15 June 19:21
LCFM, held in The Vaults of the Royal Society of the Arts, was a collaborative effort to showcase the best of London College of Fashion's past graduates. Today's highlight, the show featured many NJAL designers starting with Oliver Ruuger's static exhibition of menswear accessories. Asger Juel Larsen opened the catwalk show with a watercolour skull print cape. Following looks featured a gothic splatter paint motif and then moved into more minimal, militaristic silhouettes, keeping to Larsen's signature dark and industrial feel. He also managed to infuse Celtic knot jacquard with a slightly more urban feel.

Following Larsen was Domingo Rodriguez. His classic knits in black and grey were a testament to the importance of basics. The collection then moved on to Leather trousers and delicate crochets and jerseys. Overall it was very casual, but proved that simplicity equals grace. 

Last to show in the dark depths of The Vaults was Matteo Molinari. He mixed chunky knits with feminine, delicate crochet. It was a romantic and rustic looking collection playing with classic shapes that were reminiscent of the naivety  of country living.  

Even though the inspiration for Spencer Hart's collection was from Crackers, the 1970's nightclub, this parade of suits seemed to have East Asian influence as well with Mao-esque military communist pockets and  boxy, roomy jackets, which was perhaps another reference to the 70s. The revival of the oversized zoot suit showed wealth, but the real richness was in the variety and breadth of the collection. Despite the unnecessary dance sequence to open and close the show, Hart proved how to sequence his variety.

Friday, 15 June 21:20
Oliver Spencer presented his SS13 collection at the Old Sorting Office in Central London. Inspired by the painter Ben Nicholson and Russian Modernism, the designer focused on his signature pieces but added a pop of colour. The simple and minimalist designs felt very fresh after seeing so much print earlier in the day.

The collection consisted of wardrobe basics such as sharply tailored jackets, well-cut trousers and strong outerwear. Burnt orange and electric blue were mixed with desert sand and other neutral tones. The designer also introduced board shorts for the first time. The look was more relaxed and contemporary this season.

Spencer’s usual check print and stripes were still there, but with the addition of a graphic Aztec print. The audience also enjoyed the selection of models from all ages and backgrounds, including Topman’s handsome design director, Gordon Richardson.

Saturday, 16 June 10:23
The Sibling trio opened the second day of London Collections: Men with an all white collection. Taking a step away from knitwear, Sibling introduced a comprehensive range of menswear for SS13. Last season it was monsters, this time the theme was Revolution.

Styled by Katie Grand, the show featured models wearing statement hoods, masks and furry hats that covered their faces. This has become a signature Sibling style. The fresh and sporty designs had fun details such as golden embroidery, pink stripes and plated sequins. The buzzing and playful show was the perfect start to the day.

Saturday, 16 June 17:23
Topman and Fashion East presented MAN once again with new sensations Shaun Samson, Agi & Sam and Astrid Andersen. Astrid Andersen opened the show with a collection combining an urban aesthetic with spirituality and religion. Holding true to her Danish DNA, Andersen showed sportswear and contemporary street wear in pale colours such as yellow, green and a deep Bordeaux inspired by traditional church windows. A feminine twist was added with the use of sheer yellow lace.

Agi & Sam showed a collection inspired by their upbringing in the 80’s. By combining exaggerated florals and pastel upholstery with the essence of Magnum P.I. and Miami Vice, Agi & Sam’s collection could have been a complete disaster. Thankfully, it turned out to be an exciting, very wearable, yet interesting range of garments with embroidery prints and bold patterns.

Shaun Samson’s models strutted down the runway wearing beautifully well-crafted street wear. T-shirts featuring street cats—kittens with piercings and silver embellishment details were the highlights of his collection. Other great pieces were the transparent sweaters, which Samson wrapped around the models' waists.

Saturday, 16 June 20:48
The Mr Start show featured a mix of tailored jackets, worn with shorts for a classic summer look. Mr Start keeps the focus on the details with buttons and stitching in fresh colours—a perfect look, for the true British gentleman. What a way to pay tribute to London's menswear industry.

Fashion East Menswear Installations gathered eleven designers under one roof. The selection was carefully curated with a good variety of emerging talent in menswear.

William Richard Green drew inspiration from military references, creating a very British but contemporary uniform. With a down to earth colour palette, the designs were simple and paired down. A closer look revealed the technical details such as hidden pockets and carefully selected fabrics.

With this collection the designer also wanted to celebrate his core ethos of British manufacturing. The jersey was sourced from Yorkshire and Leicester whilst long shirts were crafted using Oxford cotton of Lancashire. This additional element made the collection feel much more personal and it was nice to hear the story behind the materials.

The most beautiful set up was at T.Lipop’s presentation. The designer filled the space with flowers that perfectly matched his Mexico inspired collection. The theme was mostly evident in the skull embroidery that repeated throughout the pieces in striking colours. Key items were the floral suit, short sleeve blazer and neon shorts, also the classical velvet slippers, which came in delicious colours decorated with the same Mexican embroidery.

Craig Green explored the balance of tones within white and cream, and different textures. The collection was light and bright and the beauty of each item lay in fine details such as rubber dipped sleeves and raw-cut, frayed edges. The designer, declared to be a DYI enthusiast, treated each of the 15 garments as an individual project. The end result was a beautiful, delicate and comprehensive collection.

Closing the day was the highly anticipated James Long show. The designer took a much more sophisticated and minimalist direction with his SS13 collection, trying to reinvent the James Long codes of print, knit and silhouette.

Sunday, 17 10:59
With graphic prints in black and white, the overall look was strong, refined and modern. The main focus was on shorts, with which the designer played with pleating and paneling, creating volume and shape. These were paired with smart white shirts and simple biker jackets. The signature knitwear was there as well and the hand-knitted pieces followed the black and white theme and completed the masculine looks perfectly.

Each spring, millions of blue and red shelled crabs emerge from the bays of Cuba to find their mates. Celebrating life, colour and Cuban fishing culture, Baartmans and Siegel designed their SS13 collection to reflect a sun-kissed exploratory range of youthful menswear. Muted tones and light fabrics added to the beachy feel of the collection. 

Alex Mattson's approach to sportswear was fun and fresh. Another youthful collection featured four looks that used high performance materials, contrast pockets and various sports references such as baseball caps and letterman jackets. The models danced and bobbed to the the electro music which went well with the 80s CGI digital prints. 

An ode to camaraderie and strength, Cassette Playa's new fashion film, entitled Blood Rites, featured various forms of body mutilation as a rite of passage. Shock factor was more than evident as motivation for this film as the collection was hardly featured at all. 

Sunday, 17 June 17:56
Last but not least, we return to classic British style with Alistair Carr. For Pringle of Scotland, this season was all about taking their classic knit looks and transforming them into hard, utilitarian statements. Large pockets, thick jackets and roomy short-shorts were reminiscent of working class England. Many models were covered in tattoos, much like tatted-up creative director, Carr. This reflected the edge that has been added to Pringle’s knitwear selection.