The Designers at London Men's Fashion Week Building New Norms

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01 Sep '21

Take note of up-and-coming genre-defying designers exploring how to be sustainable and gender-fluid through knits and upcycled scraps at London Men's Fashion Week.

Author

Shriya Zamindar

Photographer

Azura Lovisa

It’s 2021, a year of peak digital awareness induced by the pandemic, a year of moving from traditional fashion week formats, and a year where designers cater to a woke audience demanding seasonless, genderless, and conscious fashion. That was the new norm for SS22 fashion week in London, held in June.

The British leg of the menswear season commenced with digital shows, and although it was technically SS22 men’s fashion week in the capital, the main topic of discussion was some new, attention-grabbing womenswear and unisex ephemera.

Béhen

Designer Joana Duarte explores the craft heritage of the label’s Portuguese roots in her Resort 2022 collection titled Love Begets Love. A panoramic view of a seascape with pebbled shores provided the ambience to showcase an array of skimpy summer knits constructed using traditional macrame. The designer fuelled her vision through upcycled textiles to create bell-bottoms, printed jackets, sarong-style cut-out dresses and bibs in flashy hues of deep blue, orange, and a seafoam-y green. A narrative of a tragic romance originating from Peniche, a small fishermen’s town, ties the overarching theme together. The designer pays homage to Portuguese traditions and crafts by involving artisans and local communities in the project, incorporating samples of prints and textiles in the details of the collection.

Chloe Baines

The LCF alumnus’ gender-fluid collection Pegged, portrays workwear inspired by construction site uniforms. Taking deadstock denim and tech fabrics used for tents at festivals, the designer explored boxy, hypermasculine silhouettes translating into a distilled version of upcycled. With a raw feel to the clothes, Baines has worked with textures to explore the limits of these woven textiles. Crocheted dresses, patchworked denim utility jackets with raw seams, knit pants outfitted with recycled accessories and combat boots were worn by models vogueing to a thumping soundtrack added a joyfully rebellious mood to the sustainable ethos of this collection.

Mayya Agayeva

Named Burning Wonderland, the London-based menswear designer’s SS22 collection explores structural suiting in monochrome. Ruched shirts and dresses layered over suits were designed using deadstock material. Launching her namesake label in 2020, the Royal College of Art menswear graduate takes a multi-functional approach to clothing. Sustainable and gender-fluid being the brand’s ethos, it calls to attention that moving towards impactful designing that carries a message of conscious fashion will be a step towards the future. “Burning wonderland aims to provoke further investigation of the ongoing exploration of our sustainable design ethos,” says Agayeva on the collection.

Auroboros

The label supported by Alexander McQueen’s Sarabande Foundation launched Biomimicry, their first digital collection, which is also a first for the seasonal fashion event. Presenting AR clothing on a real-life model styled by fashion icon Sita Abellan, the simulated character was placed in a game-like setting resembling The Sims–or any dress-up game really, with clothing items popping up on-screen as options. A confluence between nature and technology, the collection was designed in collaboration with the Institute of Digital Fashion. QR codes on billboards and posters across London will take you inside this world of sci-fi hybrid fashion, a contribution to discussions on AR clothing taking centre-stage as the world continues to be engulfed in a social-media induced reality. Wardrobes could now be accessed through a drop-down menu.

Azura Lovisa

The London-based Malaysian-Swedish designer explores traditional crafts through her mixed heritage in a seasonless and gender-fluid collection. The Central Saint Martins’ womenswear graduate employed handwoven textiles to shape her fluid silhouettes in an earthy colour palette. With previous experience designing for Balenciaga and Peter Pilotto, the designer now works on slow fashion-focused conceptual designs produced ethically and sustainably. Strategically slitted cropped pants paired on pleated blouses with cut-out details and a smattering of off-shoulder moments bring sensuality into the mix. The collection, shot in a seemingly underground club complete with a DJ booth transports you into a hedonistic trance of bodies bumping together, all while highlighting the ethnic exploration of Southeast Asian culture.

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