Remember the Underground? London Men’s S/S 2020
Updated: Jul 6, 2019
Patrick Michael Hughes Men's Fashion Editor
A tired conversation at London Fashion Week Men’s one may have to endure each season is, ‘Its not what it used to be so much smaller’… ‘There aren’t any big labels’ and the age old ‘remember when’… or ‘is this the last time they are going to do this’. Tedious tales filled with no information and rumor.
London Fashion Week Men’s is diverse, vibrant and highly energetic. The energy in London palatable, I chatted with a major luxury American fashion director at one of the venues, who attend many of the new talent and first time shows of the new crop of designers, I happily stated ‘there are no New Yorkers here’, smiling he replied’ that is what gives us the edge’.
The spring 2020 collections are the 14th Edition of the men’s shows and the second season of in the new location Shoreditch Truman Brewery, Ely's Yard, Hanbury Street in London’s East End. This was in the same area of famed Sipitalfields Silk Industry, Jack the Ripper, the Blitz and the backdrop of cockney flower markets in the famous musical film ‘My Fair Lady’. Today, gentrification has transported high-end boutiques, enterprising historic home renovators, and open-air markets alongside the layers of in your face artistic political graffiti. The grit and some of the post WWII soot is still there within a thriving community of immigrant businesses and a young working class population.
Seeing the grit and fragments of buildings adds to the spring 2020 muse for a period of nightlife with underground laser filled parties, alternative industrial music and the alter ego of the rebellious youth from the 1980’s. IRK men’s fashion has been tracking this creative nostalgia for sometime. ‘Underground’s Digital Natives’ highlighted the work of New York designer Brian Swift in an interview looking at the new generation tapping into underground with connections to New York's Limelight legendary ‘Disco 2000’ club kid parties during the late nineties. The images were inspired by candid recollections form the dance floor and beyond in an editorial in October 2018.
Three millennium London fashion brands for spring 2020 have also tapped into the same message looking to the dance floor, the underground and after-hours gatherings from the past and the current political climate for inspiration.
JORDANLUCA - 'MALEDETTA PRIMAVERA' SPRING 2020 "The JORDANLUCA muse walks runs and dances in the darkness of an early morning or a laser beamed basement of a nighttime rave embracing the promise of light to come. The crisp air that cuts into a mood and strokes cloth exposed skin comforting the courageous" Princess Julia
This was the quotation leading the JORDANLUCA spring 2020 collection. The rugged and dark venue on Brick Lane was the ideal choice for this season’s runway debut at LFWM. The labels founders Jordan Bowen and Luca Marchetto hoped ‘to challenge the norms of menswear’ and from this collection also look at fashion responsibility.
What was striking about this debut was the collection's movement toward sustainably and a carbon neutral footprint. This was seen within the sensibilities of the textiles of the tracksuits and particular items which were made of far more friendly materials for the Earth.
The details in the streetwear inspired collection that are new were the twisting, gathering and slashing in the silhouettes see at the sleeves, shoulders and hems. The look was achieved through elastic bungee cording, and skillful craft. The printed shirts in cotton jersey featured large rat population something one might see if walking late at night through dark streets searching for the next rave venue or after hours party . Transformation was a bit of a noted element in snapped pants exposing skin, and further enhancing pockets were reminiscent of skater chic with full cut early nineties stove pipe utility shapes
There was a rich variety of outerwear in this collection exceedingly accessible, innovative and fresh a stand out was a shinny red wax coated jacket the same material showed up in shorts. The surprise was the use of sculptures attached to a few of the models with nylon straps like industrial wire parachutes. This was an excellent collection and a very solid runway debut.
'DEEPER THAN NIGHT' was the title of the John Lawrence Sullivan spring 2020 collection. Industrial music and synth -punk were the metaphoric anchors for this collection featuring a live performance by Dicepeople a dark elctro band from London, with vocals by Zmora and music by Matt Brock. Dark wave post punk eighties as long been an interest of the the designer of the fashion label, Arashi Yanagawa. This brand is to be admired this season for its growth and remaining true to it's framework and muses of counter culture and underground. Yanagawa has developed as a designer with a stronger more skilled eye focused on details and clear concepts. The strength is in the follow through in his design. He was not trained as a designer but as a professional boxer before founding his brand in 2003. The label is named after the legendary "Boston Strong Boy" boxer from the early twentieth century.
Spring 2020 was a mix of natural fibers and new synthetic, highlighting zippers at the shoulder, transformative paneling at the back of overcoats and classic biker jackets.Slashed clothing was an element seen many looks particularly in beautiful cotton knits. Every look in the collection was paired with thick stomping boots "designed for post apocalyptic grooftie"
Layers were also key to 'Deeper Than Night's' collection narrative washed out fabrication paired with shaggy cotton and clashes of houndstooth or jacard. The color palate was shinny black and purple with accents of red, yellow and brown.
What worked this season more than any other was how pulled together the collection was what was really retro was the fit of the shorts almost like eighties biker shorts. The accessory details were also notable such as wrist length gloves in late. The prints seen on t-shirts were designed by La based photographer Coley Brown whose work explores abstractions of the natural world.
The location was ideal and it was the second time he showed in the very tunnel like space under a bridge on Old Street filled with fog clouds and lasers
For 2020 Martine Rose turns her attention to the energy of early 1980's British subcultures. Rebellious,sincere, expressive, pent up angst and experimental. The collection channels the new romantic football hooligan, the skinhead and the proto-raver." Rose's concept was to explore what is not as it seamed, the life and fashion alter ego. One of the looks bringing this concept to light along with the current political climate in Britain was a reversible fleece with 'Promising Britain' on the front featuring a picture of a clown encircled with the stars of the European Union. The strange world where everything is a bit off. The collection is a comment on current British politics.
Americana was also a wonderful surprise in this collection or not upon reflection of Rose's vibe and well developed witty fashion characterizations. A fringe western look made an appearance paired with Chinoiserie jacard trousers as well as varsity knits and chinos. Textiles in this collection were also key to the development of the muses and concepts. Checks and bold stripes pay homage to the 1980s as well as large shoulder pads. The nineties club culture also got a nod in belts with ' Sex and Martine' written on them special emphasis on 'E'.
What was striking about the collection was the was the styling using wigs inspired by eighties looking at the sixties there was even a B52's beehive. This was the first time IRK has attended the collection by Martine Rose and it was by default at the insistence of two other fashion editors and journalist from major publications. I was glad to be welcomed and enjoyed the wit and intelligence of a designer to watch in the future.