LONDON — Browns Fashion is tapping London’s up-and-coming men’s wear designers for a series of exclusive partnerships in time for London Fashion Week Men’s.
The London retailer is teaming with Edward Crutchley, the British designer known for his use of traditional fabrics, to launch his spring collection as the exclusive retail partner. Crutchley has also worked with Browns on a window takeover of its South Molton Street boutique, as well as a see-now-buy-now initiative.
Dean Cook, men’s wear buying manager at brownsfashion.com, said Crutchley was a great fit for the retailer, which has been undergoing a re-branding following the appointment of Holli Rogers as its new chief executive officer. The store is aiming to highlight standout pieces and homegrown talent.
“We wanted to showcase what we believe to be one of the strongest collections of the season in our window during London Fashion Week Men’s,” said Cook. “Over the past few seasons we’ve found that our clients are investing in statement, stand-out pieces more and more, so Edward’s aesthetic certainly appeals to our customer. The embroidered jumpsuit and the bowling shirt are two hero pieces from the spring 2017 collection. Both exemplify his incredible attention to detail.”
Crutchley said he was attracted to the history of Browns, and to its new international appeal, following the recent re-launch of its e-commerce site.
“Browns are such a fashion institution, it was such a joy to be able to work with them. Being in their South Molton Street store is such a dream, but with their new web store the reach they have internationally is huge and such a fantastic opportunity,” said Crutchley, who worked with Louis Vuitton’s Kim Jones before launching his namesake label.
As the traditional fashion calendar schedule is shifting in favor of see-now-buy-now collections, the up-and-coming designer has also been thinking about ways of making his collections more immediately available.
“The fabrics I create are unique and take quite a lot of time to make, so I’ve been struggling to think of the best way to do this,” said the designer. “When the Browns team suggested an exclusive T-shirt, it was the perfect solution, as it’s a reasonably straightforward piece to produce and we are able to offer something at an entry-level price point that is really unique. Of course, I couldn’t resist getting some kind of artisanal textile story in somewhere, so the T-shirts have been hand-dyed by a Shibori master in Kyoto. We really studied the colors and dyeing texture to create a visual that creates a bridge between spring 2017 and fall 2017. “
The T-shirt, which features a tie-dye motif, will be available to purchase on Browns’ web site and at the South Molton Street boutique immediately after his presentation, which is set to take place Saturday as part of the official London Fashion Week Men’s schedule. It will retail for 210 pounds, or $258.
Crutchley added that he would consider fully embracing the see-now buy-now model as his business develops. “I think this type of one-off, see-now buy-now project, where we work on specific pieces, is the best solution. Theoretically it would not be a huge problem to move completely towards a see-now-buy-now model, but I would like to get further along the road with sales and have some real like-for-like comparative figures to make the right commercial decisions as to how to best exploit the potential of this way for working.”
From the retailer’s perspective, Cook said brand’s new see-now buy-now approach fits with the needs of the store’s sophisticated consumer.
“The fashion industry in general is embracing a more fast-paced model and a sense of [immediacy]. We’re here to support those designers and provide our customers with the best possible pieces as quickly and effortlessly as they desire,” said Cook.
Browns has also partnered with John Lawrence Sullivan, the Japanese brand showing as part of the London calendar for the first time, on a see-now-buy-now initiative launching Monday.
For Crutchley’s window takeover of Browns, the designer chose to highlight the embroidered bomber suits from his spring range and worked with students from the London Metropolitan University’s College of Art Textiles Department to create additional display elements.
“We took the story of the monsters and characters from the embroidery and imagined a physical world they could live in. Kind of twisted and strange but still very beautiful. It was a really great experience working with the students, as they have such a fresh approach to materials and it was really interesting to see the way the students reacted to the brief and how they handcrafted all the display elements,” said Crutchley.
In keeping with its focus on supporting young British talent — and the longstanding Browns tradition of championing young designers, some of them fresh out of fashion college — the retailer has also launched Helen Lawrence’s first collection on an exclusive basis. Lawrence, a Central Saint Martins design graduate, was previously known for creating knitwear for the likes of Craig Green and Alexander McQueen. Her inaugural line stands out for its oversized ribbed knits in a variety of earth-toned hues, featuring cutout panels.
Prices range between 690 pounds, or $846, to 740 pounds, or $908.