Developed from a one-piece wax cotton suit called the Barbour International, this biker-inspired look has become a staple of European fashion. Often worn smart/casual, the silhouette is fitted yet fluid enough for freedom of movement – ideal when racing on a classic motorcycle. Created by keen motorcyclist Duncan Barbour, the suit was initially designed for the 1936 International Six Day Trials event and was continuously worn by almost every British team until 1977. The suit’s popularity reached the States as the American ISDT team wore it in 1964 – and the look was most famously donned by actor and icon Steve McQueen. Today, the men’s and women’s collections have been replicated in different contemporary fabrics, along with the original wax cotton. The British heritage brand has garnered an impressive following of models, actors, musicians and other influencers the world over. The garments are still created with the biker in mind, providing functionality with rugged elegance for the modern aesthete.
Maharishi is the word used to describe a great Hindu sage and literally means ‘great seer’. Founded in 1994 by Hardy Blechman, this year’s catwalk show was a hybrid of army-style utilitarianism and street wear. With subtle accents of combat patterns and light foliage, this season saw mostly black, white, blue, salmon and combat green hues on the catwalk. At first glance Maharishi looks to be targeted at the young trend-setter, but in truth it’s highly functional nature, with its durable fabrics and often neutral tones, would work for anyone with a no-fuss approach to personal style. A truly conscious brand, maharishi creates environmentally sound, fair-trade produced, high quality garments for men, women and children. The brand has a strong utilitarian sensibility, merging inspirations from the natural world with the latest technology to create pieces that last.
Twelve-O-Eight was the number of the childhood address belonging to shoe designer Carl Gilliam and his brother, music superstar and entrepreneur, will.i.am. Despite their rags-to-riches ascension, this address (1208 Glennfield Court in Boyle Heights, East LA) has stayed with the men behind this soon-to-be iconic brand. They’re quoted as saying: “Despite living in impoverished conditions, we were rich in values, morals, ethics and spirituality… We couldn’t afford the riches to compete with the riches, so we turned our rags into riches and the riches followed us.” The values learned in the brothers’ upbringing are used as inspiration for the brand’s innovative sneaker collection. The brothers’ passion for design grew from the creations they realised as teenagers, when they chased innovation by designing their own clothes. Considered a style-conscious, dressier alternative to its competitors’ traditional sneaker aesthetic, MCCVIII is for the trendsetter on-the-go, as demonstrated by the guest list in attendance at the sought-after event. It was a buzzing affair with a plethora of stylish, beautiful-looking people who seemed to admire each other as much as they did the collection. Waiters made rounds with cocktails in tall glasses and there were live DJs (Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidh) blaring hits. When asked whether he’d enjoyed the show, one guest laughingly asked “what show?” – it was more of a glitzy ‘do’ than a presentation. Despite the bustling, loud business the collection was still clearly visible, with fresh-faced models reclining consciously, occasionally getting up to take a turn around the platform on which they perched. With such a successful start, the future is certainly bright for MCCVIII.
It’s not often that a prestigious institution publicly backs a young designer, but GQ China presented Ximon Lee’s Autumn Winter collection during Men’s fashion week. Naturally, this was a collaboration that garnered a lot of press attention and excitement from fans of the British Fashion Council’s long-standing tradition of showcasing Chinese talent through media giants. The ambiance was almost classically ‘fashion week’-like with its who’s-who-ing and muttered anticipation. FROW behavior like the (now mandatory) pre-show posing for the cameras by recognizable personalities was the most evident of fashion week clichés, but the rapturous applause as the young designer took a bow was a reminder of what it was all about. Lee’s designs cannot be contained by the word ‘innovative,’ avant-garde would be more appropriate. The patterns and silhouettes blurred the lines between men’s and womenswear attire, inadvertently slotting into the gender neutral aesthetic slowly taking over Western fashion. Lee’s study of “SHAME” started with the Chinese symbol for the same word comprised of the symbols for ‘beauty’ and ‘ugly,’ which in turn lead to the exploration of the lines between conscious and unconscious. Lee’s take on “SHAME” is “a play on material memories illustrated through hidden messages.” For example, some of the male models’ bodies were covered by tapered corsets, yet simultaneously revealed through smart cut-aways. Other pieces included pearl clustered sheer tops and thigh-revealing pants worn by the gents. The few ladies modeling the collection wore more traditionally masculine silhouettes, like structured oversized coats, begging the question of whether there was a bit of role reversal going on. Regardless, “SHAME” was very well received.
Designer Show rooms
In a way, the showrooms are the best part of London Fashion Week. The designers are almost always present, which gives anyone fortunate enough to attend the opportunity to discuss their collections at length. And the stories are always great. This is because the showrooms are largely occupied by young up-and-comers who’ve had to hustle, and sometimes struggle, their way to this point – and their excitement is palpable.
One such brand was Oppermann London. Founded by brothers Niklas and Mattis, Oppermann make premium leather goods for the discerning gent, merging “Swedish minimalism with British individuality.” (https://www.oppermann-london.com).
Another European export, French accessories brand Briston Watches brings Parisian sharpness to classic, nautical inspired time pieces. Although largely menswear, the watches would also suit and appeal to women. As well as being eye-catchingly beautiful, they are authentic, yet affordable timepieces for the driven entrepreneur, modelled after their founder Brice Jounet. (http://www.briston-watches.com/en/).
Emily carter designs luxury silk scarves and pocket squares in London. With themes stemming from the natural world and scientific illustration, the designs are eventually printed on silk twill of the highest quality and are hemmed and packaged by hand. Carter’s brand is a rare gem when it comes to manufacturing: every item is produced and finished in England. (http://www.emily-carter.co.uk).
YHIM by Sophia Wu is “a celebration of your confidence, courage and creativity,” providing multi-faceted pocket squares for the gent with a sense of purpose. Indeed, the ‘Y’ in YHIM stands for WHY, a question that defines everything the brand endeavors to do. Wu has reinvented the pocket square with her latest collection, ANYTIME ANYWHERE. The single pocket square can easily be turned into eight varying designs, with reversible, double-sided premium twill and satin silk. (https://yhim.co.uk).