LONDON — As London Fashion Week returns to physical formats in full force, Robyn Lynch, IA London, Lula Laora and KWK by Kay Kwok are four labels making a mark on and off the official schedule this season.
Dublin-born menswear designer Robyn Lynch returns to London Fashion Week with a physical show on Saturday after a two-year absence from the official calendar. In the meantime, her brand has been supported by the fashion week’s support platform Newgen for two years.
“I am really excited to be back doing physical shows. Although I must admit that over the duration of COVID-19 and adapting to different forms of creativity to showcase new work was enjoyable,” said the Fashion East alumnus.
The University of Westminster graduate believes that the fall 2022 season will be her “most concise and considered collection yet,” as it “represents a celebration of Irish culture in a modern world. Breaking down traditional stereotypes that are associated with Irish references and culture and bringing it into a diverse 2022.”
She wants the brand to be “inclusive for everyone who wants to celebrate Ireland both home and abroad” and to highlight how sustainable fashion can be shown in the forms of creative partnerships and collaborations with the likes of Rapha and Columbia.
In fact, her entire fall collection was based on her experience working with Columbia over the past year.
“I am excited this season to be continuing on our partnership with Columbia on a series of upcycled jackets from deadstock, but also merging this with our mainline. Merging the two into one collection allows us to grow as a brand in stockists and offer the collection to more territories as we are not solely constrained to limited units of garments that we are when working solely with upcycled deadstock,” said Lynch.
“This season we got rid of our outer raw nylons and instead switched to the Seaqual alternative, which we then lab-dipped and dyed in the U.K. We also developed a viscose fabric in Italy this season and used waterproofing technology to transform a traditional fabric into an outerwear fabric,” she added.
Lynch this time is also exploring new technology in fashion, as she works with an emerging Japanese brand called Synflux, which merges the use of artificial intelligence into garment construction and knitwear.
Founded by Istituto Marangoni London tutor Ira Iceberg, IA London positions itself as an independent avant-garde label. The brand will make its London Fashion Week official calendar debut on Sunday at The Mandrake hotel in central London.
Iceberg, a self-taught designer whose background is in fine art and image-making, said the brand “seeks to provide a sense of timelessness, authenticity and quality in the age of fast consumerism using sustainable and ethical practices.…Garments can be used as a blank canvas for storytelling, and narrative and purpose is a defining feature of the label.”
The fall 2022 collection is influenced by kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted with powdered gold.
“As a philosophy, kintsugi canonizes the beauty of imperfection and makes no attempt to hide the damage, treating breakage and repair as part of the history of an object. After the last two years, I think that we all feel a little broken,” said Iceberg.
The collection will feature wearable pieces alongside more conceptual ones, made by hand from recycled samples.
“I used the Chance Operations method to connect the ‘broken’ pieces and try to overcome the predictability of choices. Merce Cunningham and John Cage famously applied the method to choreography and music, and I was interested in pioneering its application to garment making,” she added.
The designer said she is keen to grow the customer base, both in continental Europe and Asia, where Iceberg believes is “a good fit and can create a strong following.”
KWK by Kay Kwok
Also making a return to London is Hong Kong-based designer Kay Kwok, who showed in London for two seasons in 2014. His futuristic looks didn’t get much Western attention at the time.
“I have experienced a lot in the eight years since my last show. Frankly, I am kind of a greedy person who can’t settle only with fashion design. I have always been keen on work also in other fields within the fashion industry. I tried multiple things — from being a magazine columnist and fashion stylist to making concert costumes for pop stars and participating in fashion-trend-related TV reality shows in China. These opportunities enhanced my knowledge about this industry, which set a strong foundation for the development of the brand,” he said.
Kwok hopes that things will be different this time. He is set to close London Fashion Week on Feb. 22 with a collection that “hopes to lead people to see the possibility of the great inclusive love.”
“In the past, I focused mostly on the visual appearance, such as my futuristic prints and styling. Now I think more about what kind of clothing brand the world really needs. Hence the brand is going toward a genderless and seasonless path,” he added.
The fall 2022 collection, titled “Chapter 1,” will tell “a survival story about a group of abandoned humans on earth in the 2100s.”
“The Earth is about to perish, the two characters, a boy — BOM — and a girl — Bo-Bae — have to find the portal as a way out to leave Earth and reunite with their friends and family on another planet. In the collection, there are a lot of outdoor and digital elements. We visualize the abandoned humans as avatars of our brand. In every season [from now on] we will introduce one or two new characters along with the storyline.”
Kwok also believes that the brand “totally belongs to the metaverse” and “fashion will be essential in the metaverse.”
“In there we all will dress up as ‘another me.’ We will put quite a lot of effort into developing digital clothing while we won’t lose focus on physical clothing. We hope ultimately we can serve customers in both worlds,” he added.
Bold, dynamic and eclectic is how Central Saint Martins graduate Lula Laora describes her namesake brand, founded in 2018.
The designer released her fall 2022 collection a few days ahead of London Fashion Week. Inspired by occidental eveningwear from the 1940s and the Art Deco architecture style seen in “American Horror Story: Hotel,” Laora offered her take on Hollywood’s most glamorous period.
“I have always been movie-obsessed and particularly interested in costumes. They carry so much information about a character, a time period, history, culture and so much more. To see how a character gets brought to life only using fabric was fascinating to me,” she said.
Her pieces are made for East London nightlife, and the designer knows how important it is to make sure the wearer feels comfortable while looking over-the-top.
“I want people to feel free and confident to explore their fantasies, embrace and express themselves as best as possible. The world is constantly evolving and so are we, our tastes and preferences. I am offering people the possibility to live their fantasies and grow with them.
“I make sure that our clothes are practical, comfortable and mainly that they can fit beautifully as many different morphologies as possible.…All the lacing of our fan lacing pieces is elastics. Our trousers have a ribbing panel in the inseam. Our shoes also have elastic lacing. Some of our coats and jackets have a unisex cut. Lastly, most of our pieces have hooks, eyes, zippers, or grosgrain to give room for potential adjustments,” she said.
While ready-to-wear collections are on offer twice a year, Laora said what the brand is really working hard on are those custom-made pieces and a diverse range of projects, which the designer thinks are “quite unconventional for the fashion industry.”