FAULT Magazine London Collections: Men SS17 Round up

The “big guns” of London menswear: Burberry, Christopher Kane, Alexander McQueen et al dominate press coverage of the bi-annual London Collections: Men, and the new rising stars of British menswear who truly drive the capitals creativity and break new boundaries in their gloriously subversive challenges to the status quo, are often overlooked. For SS17 we at Fault are going to celebrate the kings and queens of the London underground!
Chinese wunderkid Xander Zhou has garnered a cult following amongst the London menswear pack. His playful irreverence, fondness for Americana, and toying with the traditional notions of gender, makes every collection of his somewhat of a show stopper. This season Zhou moved further into androgynous territory with an ethereal collection that melded the soft with the hard. The key words were sex and rebellion, and bare skin was wrapped in chains, over which shirts billowed like gowns, and halter neck corset style tops blew us away. A subversive genius, the designer takes traditional menswear staples, and creates something that is completely the opposite. Zhou is creating a new urban uniform for the gender fluid generation; this is a revolution that is not going anywhere.
Young British designer Bobby Abbley is another master of subversion; his favourite toy is anything Disney. This season the designer took on Aladdin, and presented a colourful and fun yet strikingly powerful collection. It’s wearable sportswear that shouldn’t be wearable, but Abbley has a habit of doing the impossible; kids clothes for grown ups because deep down, aren’t we all Peter Pan and Wendys? A signature Abbley sweater with the face of ‘Genie’ was a welcome sight, as was the playful nod to Xtina’s ‘Genie in a bottle’; “Rub me the right way” emblazoned on one of the coats shown.
Matthew Miller is a designer who is stealthy, season by season, becoming the one to watch in London. He is the designer for this generation, a man who like his peers, is facing the torment and angst of modern life, and conveying that into powerful collections that are statements within themselves. For me, Miller was a punk poet this season, because that’s what this talented designers collections are; poetry in sartorial motion, with a punk message. He offered a refined take on the gender fluid mod uniform for which he is renowned, incorporating misfits, skinheads and rebels. These are the kids you wished you hung out with. He is unique in his ability to present a collection that is both aggressively anarchic, yet subtlety romantic; I mean who else would interpret acid washed denim with a screen-printed interpretation of John Constable’s A Study of Cloud and Sky?
Father and son duo Casely-Hayford continue to go from strength to strength, and SS17 was yet another tour de force! They are truly stars of British menswear who design eminently wearable collections touched with genius! Taking each of their most significant musical influences (rock and grime) the two seamlessly merged the diverse styling to create a beautifully tailored collection of exquisitely clashing separates that would make any man look like a king. This season also saw the introduction of some beautiful womenswear pieces, part of a new personal bespoke service.
Sibling made the bold move of combining their men’s and women’s collections (as did several other designers) this season, signalling a departure from LFW in favour of the ever growing LCM. The aces of knitwear did not disappoint: British beef and skin, skin, skin, and even some peek a boobies; the designer duo’s cheeky irreverent knitwear designs payed homage to 50’s Americana rockabilly looks, and the good old English seaside. Imagine the cast of Grease, in a seaside ‘caf’ Margate, and theres the picture postcard that Sibling presented for SS17. Oh and real men, wear crochet and lace! The designers took there post show bow sporting Remain tees voicing their support of continued Eu referendum ahead of the upcoming vote, and a double bravo for the show soundtrack inclusion of Mariah’s ‘Fantasy’ both apt, and it had the whole audiences heads bopping!
The dark lords of British fashion: the inimitable KTZ,once again took over the notorious XXL club (if only the frow guests knew exactly just what had gone on in that space the night before!) to deliver a very wearable collection of their signature warrior goth wear. It was a more wearable collection this season, again offering their take on the post modern dystopian uniform. which drew inspiration from “dark futurism of interstellar science fiction and romanticism of celestial maps” – looked as if it payed homage to the underground rave scene of Berlin, as leather, PVC and Nylon arrived in abundance, styled alongside harnesses and chains, which added a signature element of fetishism to the collection. Hooded boys in seriously sinister embellished masks set the tone, and we even saw, brilliantly: leather skirts and dresses. KTZ also offered up their take on the lux sportswear/ lad look with baggy football style shorts and bomber jackets emblazoned with star cut outs. Oh and we must make mention of those metallic shades! KTZ again showed London and the world, why they are at the top of their game, and lead the way for the new aesthetic in men’s fashion.
Liam Hodges is one of the London designers flying not so quietly under the radar. His deconstructionalist designs, like those of Alex Mullins, challenge the ways in which we view traditional menswear and the accepted sartorial norms. Collaborating with famed American workwear brand Dickies, Hodges presented a mash up of 90’s hip hop styles and sporty streetwear, that he then reinterpreted that into sturdy, and very masculine workwear.. Hodges is designer who manages to do the impossible and make what shouldn’t theoretically work, werk! The “Im OK” message emblazoned on certain pieces was a cute finishing touch; perhaps a nod to The Simpsons misfit Ralph?
We took time to deliberate on the best of the brightest up and comers and the aforementioned designers are the ones to truly watch in London. We were honoured to view their collections and watch their stock rising!
Words: Ian Michael Turner