A pop up space centre stage in one of London’s most exclusive department stores by a menswear newcomer is by no means a common scenario, but that is exactly where you’ll find Daniel W. Fletcher. To launch his SS17 collection, Liberty – the first UK stockist for the brand – has literally hung out the flags for the talented young designer’s arrival.
Down the Tudor-revival stairwell leading to the basement menswear floor, a reminder of the most talked about collection of last summer’s shows leads to the rails bearing DWF’s spring outing.
Graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2015 and immediately launching his own label, Fletcher honed his skills at Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Victoria Beckham. He gained notability following his graduate collection, profiled by the Business of Fashion and subsequently stocked by Opening Ceremony, starting a trajectory that has seen his collections gain coverage all over the world due as much to the confrontational approach of his presentations as the designs themselves.
At last summer’s London menswear shows – in the days leading up to the EU referendum – a political undertone took over many of the shows and presentations. Designers including Lou Dalton, Patrick Grant and Christopher Raeburn, took to the runway for their final bow wearing “IN” t-shirts, showing their support for the UK remaining in the EU. Fletcher dedicated his whole SS17 collection to the cause and staged a full-scale demonstration outside the official show venue, the looks of the street-cast models displaying “STAY” as the main message along with the collection’s perfectly-executed combination of stripes, pyjama shirts, sportswear, prints and politics.
STAY – Daniel W. Fletcher from Daniel W Fletcher on Vimeo.
As the collection launched in Liberty in time for the Easter weekend – a four-week run that will pave the way for his brilliant AW17 collection hitting the rails – we talked to the young Northerner about Liberty, famous school pals and the future.
How did the Liberty space come about and how has the experience been?
I have been in conversation with Liberty for a while about doing something but we have been waiting for the right time, I didn't want to just hand over the collection and for it to be lost on a rail in the back somewhere. This is my first stockist in London so I wanted to do something special and they have been really receptive to that, giving me complete freedom when it came to designing the space and how I see it in the store.
Which pieces have had the strongest reaction?
We launched SS17 online a couple of weeks ago and the reaction has been great, my silk pyjama shirts have continued to be popular so far but I'm looking forward to seeing how it fairs when people are able to see and feel the pieces in person. I'm hoping that some of the more interesting styles from the collection will tempt customers in the pop up. I know myself it can be difficult to commit to shopping online for something at a high price point or in an unusual shape when you can’t try it first.
This isn’t your first foray into retail, having already had a pop-up last year in London. Were there concerns about going into a multi-brand space rather than having your own name on the door?
I actually love multi-brand stores because they give designers like myself the opportunity to sell our products even when we only offer a small range and it means they are seen by wide audience; if it weren't for stores like Opening Ceremony who bought my graduate collection I wouldn't be doing this today. But I think it's important to provide the full brand experience, so designing a space that responds to the collection is really important for me. My own permanent store would be a dream but there are still plenty of options when it comes to multi-brand stores if you ask the right questions.
Your collections have always had a political undertone and really capture the mood of what is happening at the time, but that aside, who is the DWF boy?
It's true that there have been a lot of political undertones and this is something that's come quite naturally just because I've been reacting to what is happening around me, and there's been quite a lot going on in the past year! But the brand is really about creating products that feel luxurious and focus on innovative, modern design whilst drawing inspiration from British heritage and mixing it with contemporary influences. Someone like Tom Hughes (the actor playing Prince Albert in ITV’s Victoria) is someone I'd like to see wearing my clothes, and funnily enough we actually went to school together.
What can we expect from the SS18 collection at LFWM in June?
Last season (AW17) was a little more formal than previous collections, which came from a place of wanting to be taken seriously as a young person being overlooked politically. There were some more suits and casual tailoring and this is something I want to continue to develop, but also looking a bit brighter and more fun too, it is summer after all. And stripes of course!
Daniel W. Fletcher’s pop up will run until mid-May at Liberty, Great Marlborough Street, London, W1.
Words by Mikael Jack
Images courtesy of Daniel W. Fletcher & Instagram.com/danielwfletcher