London Fashion Week Men’s AW20: Emerging Talent

Talk during London Fashion Week Men’s schedule may have been about the
lack of big-name designers, the sparse schedule, and how long the event can
stay separate, however, one thing everyone could agree on was that the
menswear talent in London is still strong, with smaller designers really
taking their moment to shine with their autumn/winter 2020 collections.

Five emerging designers to shine during London Fashion Week Men’s

Feng Chen Wang

A talent that had editors and buyers excited was Feng Chen Wang,
everyone agreeing that the Chinese-born, London-based menswear who
graduated from the Royal College of Art is one to watch, as her designs not
only create amazing silhouettes but are focused around sustainability.

For autumn/winter 2020, Feng Chen Wang was inspired by a recent trip to
the Wuyi Mountains, in northern Fujian province, China, close to her
hometown, where she watched the sunrise, and the colours of the dawn she
witnessed are seen throughout her collection from darker cooler shades such
as icy greys and blues giving way to brighter, warmer hues like fiery reds.

These colours, made with pigments created from herbal tea, with
ingredients sourced from her local community in Fujian, which Wang states
not only provides a sustainable alternative to traditional clothes dye but
also helps her hometown’s economy. This pigment created a patchwork,
tie-dye effect across tailored pieces with streetwear influences from
trench coats and blazers with exaggerated shoulders to slouchy track pants
and rib-knits.

There was also a continuation of the exploration of her Chinese heritage
this season, where she draws on her name and the Chinese characters that
comprise it, these characters are abstracted and then articulated through
the layering of fabric, she explains and arranged like the characters are
written, “one stroke at a time” across trench coats, puffer jackets,
knitwear and shirts, all of which were handmade.

There was also a collaboration with Pepsi, bring red and blue elements
to her sporty designs, across long puffer coats, track pants, suits,
T-shirts and bags.

AW20 also saw a continuation of Wang’s collaboration with Converse
through an exaggerated, layered iteration of the Jack Purcell, a silhouette
first introduced as a badminton shoe in the 1930s. There was also a new
partnership Woolmark, as the designer is a finalist for the International
Woolmark Prize 2020.

“Tough times may lie ahead but, as this collection hopes to remind us,
dawn will surely come,” concludes Wang.

Images: courtesy of Feng Chen Wang

Bianca Saunders

Bianca Saunders recreated dancehall parties for her ‘Videolight’
autumn/winter 2020 prevention during London Fashion Week Men’s to showcase
what she calls a “deeply personal collection” inspired by her Black
Caribbean roots with a focus on movement.

“This is a collection about my background, about my heritage, about
being Black Caribbean,” explains Saunders in her show notes. “I used
distortion, things that curved, and always a play with gender, and how we
see masculine clothes.”

The collection pushes the boundaries of gender, while offering a fresh
contemporary feel for tailored menswear, with designs that focus on the
details, from a long, tailored coat featuring strong shoulders with a
covered placket, so that no buttons show, offering “clarity of design”,
which is also featured across the shirts to allow the “fluidity to shine
through”, while other shirts have ruching at the side as if hitched up
because the wearer has their hand in their trouser pocket.

Other standout features includes sweatpants with a double waistband,
allowing the elastic to become a form of ruching, while all trousers and
denim jeans have inside seams that curve outwards, creating a sense of
continual movement, and padded jackets have wire running through their
horizontal seams to create a silhouette that looks as if “movement has been
stopped and paused”.

Saunders can also be seen experimenting with her latest collection, with
waistcoats cut super-long, reaching the model’s knees, while T-shirts are
folder and gathered.

The emerging designer has also introduced accessories for the first
time, with bags featuring wire in their frame to “hold endless
possibilities of shape”, as well as silk scarves, and a footwear
collaboration with Hernan Guardamagna, a fellow graduate of the RCA.

Images: courtesy of Bianca Saunders

Ahluwalia

London-based brand Priya Ahluwalia is continuing to push gender
stereotypes alongside conscious design practices for her autumn/winter 2020
collection inspired by an alternative, multicultural interpretation of the
1960s by mixing sportswear with loungewear using a muted, earthy colour
palette.

Nostalgic feeling was a strong trend throughout London Fashion Week
Men’s, but this wasn’t a collection full of usual cliches of the Swinging
Sixties, there weren’t any flower power moments instead the emerging
designer created her own take on psychedelia with patchwork-inspired
prints, wavy lines, colour pops and texture clashes.

Following her exploration of a smarter world with the Browns Fashion
capsule collection back in November, Ahluwalia continues to infuse her
sportswear designs with formal tailoring, with matching twinsets, that were
masterfully mismatched, as well as padded jackets, tracksuits, denim, zip
tops, shorts and shirts.

Being conscious is always at the core of Ahluwalia’s ethos, and the
collection continues to use deadstock textiles and leftover materials from
her past projects, explains the designer in the show notes, and this season
also introduces new techniques. Rather than printing or bleaching onto
denim, she has used lasers to embed the curved shapes onto the jeans, and
she has ensured that all new textiles added, such as the jerseys and
polyblends, have been recycled.

The AW20 collection also features two partnerships, with the
recognisable three white stripes, appear in the ready-to-wear, as Ahluwalia
uses archival fabrics from Adidas, alongside customising their Superstar
trainer silhouette, and the designer has also worked with Clarks’
customising their Wallabees and desert boots.

London-born Priya Ahluwalia launched her label in 2018, after graduating
from the MA Menswear course at The University of Westminster and was named
the H&M Design Award winner in 2019.

Images: courtesy of Ahluwalia

Kaushik Velendra

Designer Kaushik Velendra, who was the first Indian-born graduate of
Central Saint Martin’s MA Fashion programme, is on a quest to evolve men’s
tailoring with glamour and for his London Fashion Week Men’s debut, he
showcased a contemporary menswear collection with his impressive
hybridisation of sportswear and tailoring combined with heavy embroidery.

The presentation began with an inversion of the traditional catwalk
show, with working members of the brand’s atelier, not least the designer
himself, displaying their artisanal skills for all to see, before the
collection filled with couture-like armour and futuristic tailoring grabbed
the audience’s attention.

Glamour explains the brand is the “very essence” of the 20-piece
collection, with the clothes made for the red carpet, featuring tailored
silhouettes inspired by the DNA of sportswear, highlighted with the use of
space-age fabrications, such as magnetic zips and a heat-reactive felt that
“naturally moulds over the contours of the shoulders”.

This was juxtaposed with traditional Indian embroidery techniques in
collaboration with the lauded atelier of Vastrakala, founded by
Jean-François Lesage.

“My intention was to find a way to recreate sexy and masculine
shoulders, elegant elongated proportions and bold muscles using modified
tailoring techniques and fabrication,” explains Velendra in the show notes.
“My collection investigates the infinite possibilities of linking the two
modes together, creating a ‘new generation’ of a modern, futuristic,
sophisticated, and luxurious man.”

Highlights from the mainly black collection included Velendra’s
removable shoulder moulds which, like armour, have been designed to
accentuate the human form without ever compromising fluidity of movement.

Images: courtesy of Kaushik Velendra

Pacifism

Pacifism, founded by Talal Hizami in 2018, made its London Fashion Week
Men’s debut this season with his ‘Higher Power’ autumn/winter 2020
collection that took inspiration from his Arab heritage as well as
reimagining old favourites, such as the cable-knit jumpers his mum would
dress him up in as a child and the plaid checks across the collection
inspired by his school uniform.

“Through subtle messaging, symbols, colours, textures and silhouettes,
Pacifism’s AW20 collection aims to tell a personal story and connection to
what the designer has experienced to be a ‘Higher Power’,” explained the
brand in the show notes.

Hizami set up his menswear label to bridge the gap between modern
elegance and streetwear, by incorporating modern staples, and his AW20
collection was a welcome addition to the London schedule, offering
commercial wardrobe staples that were simple if not effective in design,
from tailored check coats to knitted lounge sets, and styles that featured
satin and embroidered trims.

There were also more directional pieces such as blazers featuring
illustrations of “spiritual goddesses and angels of peace”, velvet
tracksuits, padded shorts and a shearling jacket incorporating an elongated
peach sign that was spotted throughout the collection.

Images: courtesy of Pacifism

Main image: courtesy of Feng Chen Wang

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