Updated: Jun 15
Suddenly London Fashion Week is available to all; a digital platform with access to talks, videos and more from designers, the fashion industry and commentators. Who would have thought that there would be cause to be grateful to COVID-19 and lockdown! In the past I would look on with envy as I scoured the fashion press. More recently I looked for ways to wangle a way into a few shows as well as scanning the internet for snippets of what was being showcased. Not this time, it’s here on my sofa!
Finding a menswear designer creating a genderless collection for 2020, using fabrics that he already had in the studio gives me hope. Daniel W Fletcher, winner of Netflix’s ‘Next in Fashion’ responded with instincts of compassion and an eye to sustainability when he realised that the factories he normally used were closing and that access to fabrics was suddenly very limited. His first thought was for the seamstresses whom he had built relationships with and so began working with these women one to one; Zoom calls to their homes, fitting sewing around childcare and their other responsibilities. The collection is small, just 12 looks. All exquisite pieces, many I could see myself wearing especially the Paisley Print Pyjama Shirt.
“See now, buy now” is predicted to be the future for design both at the luxury end and on the high street. This comes as a relief to many as the ludicrous convention of stocking winter wear in August harks back to a bygone age that none of us want to revisit. The collections I have been watching today are for right now - I do see a lot of pyjama influenced style, definitely reflecting the lockdown aesthetic.
Ka Wa Key’s short film “There’s no place like home” is a testament to the creativity that has been a part of many during this time of isolation. Forced to produce this in his London flat, the whole piece relies on the green screen technology which many of us are struggling to get to grips with in our Zoom dominated world. His work is new to me. Re-imagining traditional textiles and crafts every piece is made from sustainable materials only. Gender fluidity is again a unifying theme throughout the collection. A fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian vibes with a nod to streetwear may not be my personal style but it’s one I look forward to seeing more of in the future.
Sustainability is at the core of LFW this time. Designers are now expected to be accountable. It is not enough to talk about how ethical a brand is, this needs to be visible, quantifiable. The British Fashion Council is sharing panel discussions including speakers from WWF, Stella McCartney and Google. There is a feeling from designers like Hussein Chalayan of wanting to do less but to do this more deeply.
Taking the idea that it isn’t always necessary to do more provided you are doing something meaningful is where the entirely upcycled collection reM’ade by Marques ‘ Almeida sits. Understanding that the way they work had to be changed and fast was possible due to excellent relationships with suppliers and manufacturers. A mad dash to collect deadstock and product from these businesses all over Portugal saw the team working with what they already had. The ultimate ‘shop your wardrobe’ for creatives!
Teatum Jones explores a zero waste approach to fashion in Re-Love 2020. We are exhorted to reconnect with our clothes, reinvent the way we style them and reimagine our relationship with what we wear. Looking forward there is hope that the fashion industry becomes part of the answer instead of part of the problem. There is no need for endlessly producing new collections if we buy once and buy well. Creating emotional connections with what we wear instead of soothing our emotions with unnecessary purchases is the way forward. This is all about responsibility both on the part of designers and consumers. It is possible to have a kinder, more inclusive, open-minded business; responsible designers are leading the way. Will we follow?