Zio Song, a South Korean designer, presented his SONGZIO SS18 collection at London Fashion Week Men’s (180 The Strand). It was the first show of the day, kicking off at 9am, but it was one worth getting out of bed for. With a pyjama feel, appropriate for a morning show, this collection featured stripes that made you want to crawl back into your loungewear and your bed.
The collection was inspired by this single phrase, “Man, in his night, searches for his own light”. Male emotion is explored throughout the collection. The idea of accepting men’s emotions and feelings, something our society is talking about more and more, influenced every piece.
The colour palette consisted of blue, orange, red and grey. Bold and colourful striped jackets were mixed with muted white shirts. The stripes peaking through on linings of coats, and pinstripes creeping in too, on a series of tailored designs. Creating a clear theme throughout.
This SS18 collection incorporated canvas paintings from Song. Hand-painted these are added to the styles, showing a range of men painted on t-shirts and shirts alike.
A range as unique as ever, it breaks the mould in more ways than one.
For their third collection, DANSHAN designers and Central Saint Martins’ graduates, Dan and Shan (see what they did there?) dug deep into the origins of where our ideas towards gender are initially constructed. Set within a classroom in Kings College London, the young designers used both their newest Spring/Summer '18 pieces and the space that enveloped them to reflect the belief that ideologies of masculinity and gender are created at school.
To truly immerse us within that textbook educational atmosphere, models stood nonchalantly amongst televisions, white boards, chairs and desks – inviting spectators too to pull up a seat and get back to work. Projected onto the whiteboard came the message “Learning with Danshan” as the design duo sought to educate us in both mind and body, actively inviting us to explore the fluidity of gender the collection creates, whilst unraveling the dominance the education system has over the growth of expression.
By adapting the conventional school uniform of a blazer, bottoms and school shoes - courtesy of their sponsor, Kickers, known to the majority of the British public as the go-to ‘back to school’ shoe) - DANSHAN were able to convey a sense of unity through individuality. The unexpected bubble wrap trouser paired with a navy blue blazer spoke of breaking that ingrained mold of the expected - as well as reminiscing of every child's obsession when it came to popping the bloody stuff. Elsewhere, high-shine metallic jackets pair with white and light blue shirt, merging the professionalism of the uniformed cotton with a more casual approach for a contemporary juxtaposition.
Colour remained warm throughout, with neutrals, varsity blues and burgundy tones occasionally interrupted with flashes of break-away colour. Paired with the soft expressions of the models, flashing the occasional school boy grin, constructs a welcoming yet intriguing feel.
The projected message, “Danshan know that vulnerability is strength”, outlines the motivation behind the collection and the narrative it portrays. The location and ambient sounds left us with a lasting question on whether the education system is progressive or regressive for personal development. School may be a distant memory for most of us, but there's still a lot more left to learn.
If you were to think of a British brand that truly evoked adventure, Belstaff would surely come to mind. Now they face a new direction in their journey with the appointment of creative director Delphine Ninous. And while embracing the demands of contemporary culture, still at the very heart of the brand lies the pioneering spirit that inspired Eli Belovitch and co. nearly a century ago.
Belstaff presented their 'Paris to Dakar' collection on day 4 of LFWM- influenced by the thrilling Dakar rally in the 1970s. In the room, a motorbike- a lasting symbol of Belstaff's timelessly cool attitude. The biker chic collection itself united men's and womenswear once again to ring in this new era of fashion and to reflect romantic illusions of life on the road.
The 70s vibes were complimented by the earthy colour palette- browns, burnt oranges and deep reds. While Leisure wear and leather jackets really gave the wearer entry to the 'cool kids club'. Retro sports patterns and graphics worked alongside lightweight materials to capture this idea of fast life on the go- Be it on the move in London on a summer's day or riding cross country through North Africa.
Belstaff know how to make an edgy impact throughout their collections and their SS18 presentation was no exception. By embracing the intrepid spirit of the modern explorer, Belstaff's new season collection encapsulates the demands of today's generation while exuding a youthful essence.
'Paris to Dakar' pays homage to the brand's history, while looking to the next exciting chapter of their story. We can't wait to see where the road takes Belstaff next.
For KTZ SS18, we saw an urban utilitarian collection that was underpinned by a strong narrative of struggle. A number of looks both presented and subverted traditional icons of repression and control. Military khakis were slashed through with shards of metal, black collared jackets paired with straight leg trousers or tailored shorts and heavy black boots recalled police uniforms and yet were emblazoned with images of hands forming the shapes of hearts or slogans such as "club of nowhere". even what, at first glance, appeared to be knightly chainmail worn as vests or sleeves or even dripping from baseball caps like visors turned out to be a mesh of interlinked soda can ring pulls.
It was in this incoclasm that KTZ's SS18 collection struck a pleasantly truthful discordant note. In an age of Kendall Jenner handing out Pepsi as a tonic to a world burning down around us, it struck a slightly truer chord with the British punk spirit that ring pulls we're now being used to obscure a face rather than sell one.
The narrative of struggle become very much one of violent resistance as the collection moved into check flannel shirts and distressed denim. With skinhead models in khaki bomber jackets and biker boots a la 'This Is England' or black nylon hoodies, checked scarfs worn like masks, baseball caps and black biker gloves (with specially reinforced knuckles) the runway became a stage for defiant proletariat riot gear.
At a time of great uncertainty in British politics and economics, huge rifts in class and opportunity, and repeated violent attacks on British people and our way of life. This London collection paid passionate tribute to a great history of struggle and rebellion against oppression and was a great reminder that we will overcome. Of course we will, this is England.
Topman, more than most other brands, has always understood its clothes in the context of how and where they are worn - and their SS18 presentation and accompanying exhibition was, of course, no exception. "Transition" is an exploration and a celebration of the way modern men interact with each other and their clothes. From the first wistful indolent images by photographer and model Nick Offord through to the brand's own collection shown in the final presentation space, we inhabited a Bildungsroman. Traversing the various rooms, a number of upcoming artists shared their sensory experiences of modern masculinity woven together less as an exhibition and more as a coming of age story. We saw men and boys taking on new clothes, new names, new experiences and learning how to live and love with other men.
The collection itself had a very youthful zeal. The boyish models with shimmering eye make up and brightly coloured glitter-slicked hair, had their their slender frames accentuated by belted waists and padded shoulders.
The loose tonal grey and white cottons interspersed with dashes of red and orange nylon harked back to the 80's. However it was the shoulders and shell suits and that located this collection within a distinctly New Romantic tradition.
Despite the quite tonal palette, The wide cut of the trousers with multiple asymmetric pleats and the way the fabrics hung lightly and loosely created a very modern feel. This was not a bunch of boys from the 80's looking to the future, these were boys from tomorrow's world looking back.
The jarring patterns, stripes and colours seemed exuberantly thrown together as the models themselves by turns lounged, fidgeted and chatted amongst themselves. You got a sense you were looking at a the beginnings of a futurist party where a bunch of trendy kids had really run with an 80's throwback theme.
As the music and spoken word duo The Rhythm Method came on, their front man (in this instance, embodying the character of "Salad Cream") paced the stage with a camp confidence and melodramatic delivery reminiscent of Suggs or Squeeze and asked if anyone had ever felt drunk and horny at a house party. This writer couldn't help but fondly remember the boldness of youth and how He had picked up stupid nicknames and drunkenly slurred "I love you man" every Friday and Saturday night for a year or two.
Words and images: Mitchell Cooper | Fashion Week Press | @catsandjackets