LC:M — London puts menswear fashion in the spotlight

February 14, 2014

The fourth instalment of London Collections: Men was a three-day event, which showcased some of the best menswear autumn/winter collections for 2014. If you haven’t read about my previous LC:M experiences here and here, LC:M is hosted by the British Fashion Council, the very same people who have been putting together London Fashion Week since 1984.

Dylan Jones, editor of British GQ and chair of London Collections: Men couldn’t have put it better: “London Collections: Men is growing at an exponential rate, this season attracting visitors from 37 countries. We have some of the best international designer brands and emerging labels on its schedule, not to mention the phenomenal heritage of Savile Row and Jermyn Street.

“This week also offered wider insight into London’s extraordinary and unrivalled cultural life. With exhibitions, seminars, film screenings, events and parties — it wasn’t just the designers’ collections that made January’s showcase so memorable, but also the capital’s wider creative scene.”

I started my LC:M experience for 2014 by attending the Xander Zhou fashion show. The menswear collection, named Signature, intrigued me from before the show began, due to a press release with 23 single words written on a page. The words ranged from as abstract as “regalia” and “coalescence” to as straightforward as “coats” and “polka.” Not knowing quite what to expect, I imaged the showcase to be a spectacle of contrasts.

During the show, male models wore everything from long coats with polka dots to tailored suits and crisp shirts. Playing with slanting and shapes, some of the trousers were purposely made with shorter hemlines, while the jackets had longer tails and shirts had higher collars — proving again that there really is nothing like British style.

After the show, I followed the crowds on a short walk to the Hospital Club to check out the RTW Designer Showrooms Open House. Model David Gandy was wandering around the different floors, helping to host the event with designers, while a DJ played tunes and champagne continued to flow. It was great to see a range of menswear brands, featuring contemporary, urban and heritage labels; just a few of these included Jean Machine denim (no, not the Canadian retailer), Scottish lifestyle brand Lyle & Scott and Sunspel beachwear.

My first Monday evening at LC:M finished off with a Thomas Pink urban installation event in collaboration with Bompas & Parr at the Institute of Contemporary Art. It featured male models of differing age groups, looks and styles, to highlight the diversity of Thomas Pink. Previously, I only knew them as a British shirting brand; however, this autumn/winter collection showcased the true spirit of Pink and that there is something for everyone.

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In addition to the artistic live display of models, Pink created a unique and interactive way of pouring our drinks during the event: After retrieving a coin from a waiter, you would insert it into a slot in a door, knock and then voilà — a gin martini was served. Not only that, Pink also created his very own bottled cocktails, thanks to Pontoon and Hennessey.

Tuesday started off with an exclusive preview of the new Christian Louboutin collection for men, which featured new takes on the studded high tops and rich colours for autumn. From there I went to the Crombie showcase, where the head of design personally showed me through the key pieces — including a palette of chocolate, white, green, blackberry and granite colours; tailored pea coats with polished buttons; twill trousers and hand-stitched astrakhan collars — inspired by the company’s rich heritage of supplying to the military in World War I and World War II. Popular UK X-Factor host Dermot O’Leary, who is a fan of the brand, also made an appearance!

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Into the evening, I went to the Tobias England event, the next chapter from the Charlie Allen bespoke brand for the tailor and designer duo Charlie Allen and Joshua Scacheri.

The shirt artisans also chose to showcase their story through live models, who were “painted” in denim printed-shirts and cord floral print, with traditional tailoring techniques mixed with sporty and vintage elements.

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Last but not least, LC:M finished off with a bang with Superdry: The Event. This was one of the most-highly anticipated events during London Collections: Men, as this company is one of Britain’s biggest success stories as a global lifestyle brand. The Old Sorting Office show space was taken over with a dedicated floor to host a fashion show previewing both men’s and women’s autumn/winter 2014 collections — the first time Superdry showcased both collections together.

Keeping with its premium quality fabrics and British tailored cuts, the clothing was wearable, yet edgy, with a mixed Japanese influence and vintage American sportswear feel. There was everything from jeans, jackets and sportswear, to graphic T-shirts for men and women. Otherwise-casual looks were teamed with sequined jackets for the girls and tailored blazers for the boys.

This takes me to the end of my LC:M experience, as Superdry hosted a large after-party with a live DJ, bar and cocktail reception.

Too much networking resulted in laryngitis for me, so I had to stay quiet (literally) for the final day of LC:M. That is one way to show what a fun and successful series of events it was — London Collections: Men is starting to give London Fashion Week a run for its money!

By Cristina Boydell
Photography by Cristina Boydell & Matt Hass

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