Candid’s Fashion & Grooming Editor, Ross Pollard reviews the autumn/winter 2019 collection from Phoebe English.
Now for disclosure I should point to my position as an absolutely unashamed and unabashed #PhoebeFanatic. Yes, I am making that a thing. I will die on this hill. At the LFWM presentation I managed to grab a few minutes with the reigning FashionWorked Awards Best Menswear winner for a brief gabble about the collection.
This was Phoebe English as we’ve known her – part of the BFC Newgen program, “It’s been amazing. This is my last show with them but it’s been an amazing ride”, but moving into a new space, building on the ethical, sustainable foundations of the label, and looking at a start-to-finish perspective in design and retail.
“I started in a different way, usually it comes with the concept. This time I really wanted to start with the fabrics and how they could be better for the environment – trying to make choices in the collection that were better choices looking from the beginning of where something came from to all the way to the end of where something will go after I’ve shipped it”.
As Phoebe talks her passion flows, her excitement for the processes and techniques of production is delivered in an excited and up-tempo manner. I’ve interviewed her a couple of times at shows now and while there has always been a positive energy about the designer, with this next step, she’s transitioned into a sparking buzzing electricity of thought and deed.
“I was looking at all the connections in the process, whether the cotton is organic, or if the fabrics are reclaimed and could have gone to landfill or if it has buttons – buttons that are made from a milk protein and not plastic, being much more mindful of where everything has come from and using zero-waste pattern cutting so there are no off-cuts at all”.
As for the collection, the traditional elements of the label are there, clear lines, block colours, and that signature blue on occasion. It, as ever, remains the very essence of the wearable capsule, the embodiment of a slightly workman-like aesthetic lifted into youthful utilitarianism with a swagger of the elegant. There are touches of the first half of the twentieth-century factory worker fired through a black hole and emerging as a confident post-adolescent guy in charge of his style.
This time the collection was mixed with men's and womenswear, but throughout it the lines have begun to blur, an androgyny is developing. Could this be another change in the direction of the label, I asked?
“It has merged slightly. They have been quite separate, but I thought I would see how they would work merged together more. A lot of the shirts are available in different fabrics for different lines, but the same designs”.
While this may be the last of her Newgen collections, long may its ethos continue.
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