LONDON — Daniel W. Fletcher has been a closely held secret among many women in London who’ve been buying into his tailoring and sophisticated denim for years.
The demand amplified when he became the star of Netflix’s “Next in Fashion” and the draped lamé showstopper of a dress he created for the show’s finale caught attention on a global scale.
“I can pattern-cut, but when I was pattern-cutting this dress, I felt like I had no idea whether it was going to fit. I took my measurements, did all the calculations but thought it was going to be absolutely terrible,” Fletcher said.
It was far from terrible, and a year on, Fletcher is feeling more confident and ready to take on the women’s wear challenge with his first dedicated women’s collection for fall 2021.
“Since doing ‘Next in Fashion’ and becoming a lot more focused on my direct-to-consumer business, I started seeing how many women buy the collection already. So I wanted to fulfill that demand and give them a full collection,” said the designer, who has always had a flair for bending gender boundaries and injecting femininity into his men’s wear.
This season, he took the British men’s tailoring and military references for which his brand is known, and translated them into a sleek, modernist women’s collection.
“We’ve gone the other way, adding more traditional men’s wear-inspired pieces for women’s. The collections are kind of like opposite to each other, but very much in the same world,” he added, pointing to workwear-inspired leather trousers featuring large external pockets. There’s also a classic men’s sweater that’s been given the Fletcher touch by way of satin shoulder panels and metallic charms.
He also revisited and refined brand classics — including slim tailored pants with split hems, elegant riding jackets and cool denim separates with exposed seams — to suit female bodies.
“I wanted to build a wardrobe foundation for women. It’s not so trend-driven, it’s more about adding pieces to your wardrobe that you’ll keep for a long time,” said Fletcher, who thinks well-cut denim and a good suit are the ultimate wardrobe foundations.
“I think a suit should be acceptable to wear at any time. We have this idea that has been drilled into us that a suit is something you wear to the office, but actually no one is going to the office now and you should still be able to wear your suit and feel empowered,” the designer said.
Elsewhere in the collection, Fletcher veered into less familiar territory — to great effect. He offered a fresh take on the twinset with a jacket and miniskirt combination that featured a patchwork of burgundy and white upcycled fabrics, repurposed into a cool chess motif — fans of “The Queen’s Gambit” can rejoice. He also incorporated his signature silk-satin bandanas into sexy, open-back slipdresses.
“There’s a nod to really recognizable brand signatures, but we applied them to pretty traditional women’s wear,” added Fletcher. “That’s the core of who the Daniel Fletcher woman is actually, [her look has] nods to British heritage, but it’s also got this kind of a sleek sexiness. She’s pretty covered up, actually, but somehow through the use of materials you get this sophisticated and sensual feeling. It’s a new sexy.”
The new collection will be presented in a video format, and shows Fletcher walking the audience through the range. TikTok personalities Maddie and Margo Whitley are modeling it.
“I didn’t think it was right to do a show. I don’t necessarily believe in digital fashion shows: From an environmental and cost perspective, I don’t think they are right for this moment or for the size of my brand. Shooting the beautiful twins Maddie and Margot felt a lot more relevant: They really embody the spirit of empowerment of this collection,” said Fletcher, who’s been growing a big social media following of his own post-Netflix. Fletcher might be closer to the Instagram generation, but is also an avid TikTok observer who connected with the Whitley twins while scrolling through the app one evening.
A growing social following and international customer base have led Fletcher to pay more attention to his direct-to-consumer business and shift to a see-now-buy-now schedule.
He decided to release his debut women’s collection during London Fashion Week to give the launch “a real push” and build momentum, but ultimately Fletcher is aspiring to align all his collection launches together and create a fully genderless range.
“Ultimately my belief is that clothes are clothes — a shirt is a shirt, trousers are trousers and they can be for anyone. Going forward we will just sell it as genderless with sizes ranging from extra small to extra large,” he said.