In Matty Bovan’s world, dressing for a normal day involves skyscraper hats made of pots, pans or balloons, bright-colored hair dye, glitter eye shadow and textured layers piled up on top of each other.
It’s a delightful, exuberant vision that has been luring London industry leaders from the get-go: Vivienne Westwood is often found backstage at Bovan’s shows, Stephen Jones has been collaborating with the designer on hats and Katie Grand has been styling his shows ever since he was part of the emerging designer collective Fashion East, bringing a clutch of major models with her, including Winnie Harlow and Adwoa Aboah.
Bovan hand-crafts his clothes from his home in Yorkshire, where he resides with his parents. The 28-year-old has been nominated for the British Emerging Talent – Women’s Wear category at the Fashion Awards 2018 in London, and is a recipient of this year’s BFC NEWGEN bursary. He graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2015 with an MA specializing in knitwear. His 12-look graduate collection featured sculptural knits, which earned him the L’Oréal Professionel Creative Award, closely followed by the LVMH Graduate Prize 2015.
Even though his collections might appear difficult to commercialize, his ability to combine texture and pattern quickly spoke to Matchesfashion.com buying and fashion director Natalie Kingham, who bought Bovan’s collections and highlighted them as part of the retailer’s Innovators initiative, which spotlights left-field talents.
Kingham said Bovan was among the best-performing Innovators, and he went on to become a trusted Matches partner, designing a Christmas tree for its new retail space on 5 Carlos Place and selling his handbag collaboration with Coach — customized by way of illustrations and strands of pearls — exclusively on the site.
“It feels natural to me to move some elements forward — commercial isn’t a dirty word to me. But even my new, more commercial pieces are screen-printed by hand in my studio, giving them all a special quality and edge,” Bovan said. “Maintaining the handmade will always be important to my brand, but I’ve also started to work with local factories in Yorkshire and I am pushing my production capabilities going into the future, even sourcing yarns from Scotland.”
Bovan has been collaborating with Jamie Allan Shaw to create limited-edition zines featuring arty photography and exploring themes such as British folklore. He’s also a contributing editor at Grand’s Love magazine, where he can be found interviewing Gigi Hadid in bed and an occasional model starring in campaigns by Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs.
“I do see myself [as my own billboard], it comes so naturally and it’s honest. I have always experimented with my look as part of my work process and it also helps people make sense of my world and the way I create,” he added.