How do you solve a problem like London Fashion Week Men’s? Ross Pollard examines the perplexing state of menswear.
London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM) is in danger of becoming the backwater of the fashion calendar, but this could be the moment menswear's future gets secured.
I couldn't help but notice that despite some truly outstanding catwalk shows, there were a few problems with the autumn/winter 2018 season, but there was also something that filled me with joy and hope.
The problem was, that for many it felt like London Fashion Week Men's still struggles to find its own identity in a crowded start to the year. Barely has the last of the turkey gone into the final sandwich and the last of the champagne stains are cleaned off the sofa after the New Year’s Party (where getting obliterated on booze makes Jools Holland more bearable), then it's time to polish the spectacles, sharpen the pencil and crack out the new notebook that you treated yourself to and head off to The Strand (the home of LFWM) for the weekend.
Name changes, a reduction in the big names showing and kicking off the year so early have all given LFWM a sense of transience that means even before it's happened, it starts to be forgotten. Add in that so many of the shows feature womenswear and it all feels a bit like what we are actually producing in London is a convoluted message.
Well it's an odd thing, never have men taken a more active role in their fashion choices; more is spent, more time is invested and yes, more thought is happening. Gone are the days of having the same best shirt and a pair of jeans with a crease ironed into them as the look for a night out.
What London needs is a strong sense of identity, and that should be so easy. Here, in the greatest city on earth, we have the most amazing range of diverse designers. No other men's week holds a candle to the wide array of design principles you'll see on our catwalks and at our presentations. We own the most forward-thinking creative looks alongside some of the best heritage in the industry, so why can't it be a roaring success?
I'm very glad that this question was asked by nearly everyone in the industry over LFWM, and it is being poised by the consumers who are buying the looks and garments after London Fashion Week Men’s. The simple fact is that we have a great and a strong menswear industry.
When I look back over the designers we've shown you in the print magazine and here on our site at Candid, I'm sure you'll agree that we aren't short of amazing things to bring to you and will continue to bring to you. However, this is a call to arms for all of us – industry and consumer. Let's be bold. Let’s brag about how great our designers are. Let's be loud and proud of what we have. If we do that, the issue will resolve itself.
The identity for LFWM will become the best place in the world to find the best of a global industry. After all, do any of us want to return to a world of crimplene shirts and a squirt of Hai Karate as we head down the Bernie Inn for a Steak Diane and chips?
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