London – Men's fashion week has never had it so tough. A shrunken schedule, the absence of big ticket names, too early on the global fashion calendar and a dwindling attendance from key international players. One wouldn't be entirely wrong to consider closing the event and merging it with women's wear in September. The costly event is partially funded by the EU, a monetary channel that the UK may no longer tap into after official Brexit in 2019.
Unlike the usual four-day packed schedule, which gave buyers and editors barely enough time to squeeze in all the on and off calendar shows, presentations, films, events, press junkets and parties, this felt like an easy-to-manage two day event stretched over the long weekend. The absence of Burberry, J.W. Anderson and Craig Green meant magazine advertisers – and their editors – as well as key international retailers, were missing.
But perhaps big ticket brands and major retailers are not the only measure of success. This season the spotlight shone brighter than ever before on young talent and emerging brands, who would, in an overly packed weekend of luxury brand shows, be overshadowed. At LFWM they found not only a platform but also the visibility to operate outside of commercial constraints. Which other major fashion week offers designers the ability to be themselves?
In numbers, LFWM is part of a wider industry that directly contributes to nearly 30 billion pounds to the UK in GDP. It is an also an industry which employs an extraordinary 850,000 people, a highly significant figure when we evaluate it in the larger economic labour market.
The takeaways from the LFWM catwalks this season, which saw stellar shows from Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Martine Rose, Christopher Raeburn and A Cold Wall, where that designers were allowed to experiment. The zeitgeist of the gender neutral conversation is real and happening in London, and on the BFC's catwalk fashion, however outré, is authentic, challenging norms and traditions and above all is fresh and fun. However challenging and outrageous a design, they are backed by serious talent from the most revered art schools. These names will be the next generation leading the international commercial fashion houses. London Fashion Week Men's is where it all starts.
Photo credit: Charles Jeffrey Loverboy via Catwalkpictures, source London Fashion Week Men's website
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