LONDON — Britain’s men’s wear designers are buzzing with anticipation in the run-up to the January edition of London Collections: Men, ready to ride the wave of swelling sales and publicity generated by the pilot showcase last June.
Fashion folk aren’t the only ones revving up for the three-day event that runs from Jan. 7 to 9. WWD has learned that Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, will host an evening reception to launch the week, at 10 Downing Street on opening day.
Fashion houses said the British Fashion Council’s first men’s showcase in June was such a boon for business — and for London’s international profile — that they’re itching for the second round to begin.
“It’s had a major impact on business and on our international press exposure,” said Clive Darby, the founder and creative director of the label Rake. “The shows mean there are a lot of eyes on London.”
Christopher Raeburn, whose show closed the June collections, said he saw a big shift in his relationship with the buyers. “By the time we went to Paris [to sell], they had seen the collection already, and were well-prepared. They weren’t buying blind. We never had that opportunity before,” he said.
Raeburn said he nearly doubled his list of wholesale clients — he picked up such stores as Isetan, United Arrows and Colette — and saw a 40 to 45 percent bump in sales for spring, which he said is traditionally a smaller season compared with fall. For fall, he’s expecting 20 percent growth year-on-year.
For spring, Lee Roach picked up such stores as Dover Street Market and the Comme des Garçons Trading Museum in Tokyo. Like other designers, he’s planning to build on the London momentum to expand his collection for fall. “We’ll be introducing knitwear, increasing our outerwear offer, and are working on a new footwear collaboration,” he said, but declined to give further details.
Patrick Grant, whose E. Tautz label will show on Jan. 9, said he saw about “10 times” the number of buyers in June than he was used to seeing at his shows back when London’s men’s shows were tacked on to the end of the women’s wear shows in February and September.
“Usually, we’d see British buyers and a smattering of Japanese ones, but in June there were ones from China, the Middle East, Europe, North America and South America.” He said his spring season was a bumper one, too, rising 30 percent year-on-year.
Grant said he believes the men’s showcase has come at just the right time.
“There’s a good crop of emerging men’s wear designers now — James Long, Christopher Shannon, J.W. Anderson, Lou Dalton and Shaun Samson — and a whole new wave of talent coming up like Agi & Sam, Matthew Miller and Lee Roach. Had London Collections been staged three years ago, it would have been a damp squib,” said Grant.
He added that London’s designers all have an independent streak — which sets the week apart from its competitors. “They’re not all formulaic. They design what they feel like designing, and they don’t feel so constrained to be commercial — so the week feels like fun,” Grant said. “We all have a different take, and we spur each other on.” RELATED STORY: See and Be Scene, Things to Do During London Fashion Week >>
Ed Burstell, managing director of Liberty, said the buzz about London men’s week has even spilled onto the shop floor. “People are aware of what is going on, and they want to see who’s doing windows,” he said, adding that the store’s men’s business overall has been “really strong,” with a 12 percent uptick in sales over the past two years.
“The slim silhouette is still popular, and men have really embraced color. They’ve also caught up with the ladies, dressing high-low,” said Burstell. About 15 percent of Liberty’s men’s offer comes from London designers, including Dalton, Orlebar Brown, John Smedley and the footwear label Mr. Hare, which is also on the BFC’s January schedule.
Jeremy Hackett said the publicity generated by his first catwalk show last season has helped to fuel the brand’s global expansion. “We had tremendous reaction to the show in the press and on the Internet. It’s a good way of reaching out to our customers and raising our profile,” he said.
The Hackett brand — owned by the Spanish investment company Torreal, which also owns Pepe Jeans and has a joint venture with Coach in Europe — has recently opened its first Chinese store, a 4,000-square-foot unit in Hong Kong. It is set to unveil a similar-sized store in Shanghai in March. Last month, Hackett opened its first stand-alone store in New Delhi.
Hackett isn’t the only brand that’s using fashion week to fly the company flag. The London-based artist and designer Aitor Throup plans to launch his first full-blown collection during the showcase next month.
During the June showcase, Throup staged a taster presentation of what he calls his “distilled, generic product,” which sells through stockists such as Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo; Atelier New York, and I.T in Hong Kong.
He said he’s excited about unveiling the full collection in London. “London feels right. It’s such a special time for the city, and it’s part of who I am,” he said.
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)