Martine Rose

Martine Rose. Photograph: Christopher Dadey

A fresh focus on British fashion welcomed in the New Year, with a number of showcases featuring design talent from our very own East London borough.

First up was London Collections: Men, a sort of mini fashion week run by the British Fashion Council in early January. It was only the second event of its kind and is set to become a regular feature of the British fashion calendar.

Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, told the Hackney Citizen: “The buzz around London Collections: Men this season has been phenomenal. We’ve seen some excellent collections over the past three days and the showcase has achieved national and international press coverage, with an overruling message that London is the home of menswear.”

Catwalk shows and presentations may have been held in the West End, but more than twenty East London designers took part, dominating schedules and injecting their playful street-wear aesthetic into proceedings.

This street-wear direction, often distorting expectation by adopting luxury fabrics and techniques, became the defining look of the collections.

Shaun Samson’s collection inspired by ‘monsters and ice’ featured iridescent gilets and jackets, as well as scribble-embellished throws. Long loose-fitting shorts and drop shoulder tops acknowledged the American sports streak that Samson is becoming recognised for. The LA-born, Bethnal Green-based designer openly cites street culture and subcultures as his key inspirations, and this is evidently a popular approach to British menswear across the board – gone are the days when upmarket men’s fashion was restricted to Savile Row tailoring.

Fashion East- the initiative to support emerging talent based at Brick Lane’s Truman Brewery- selected around 10 promising menswear designers to display their collections using a combination of presentations, live shows and multimedia.

Tottenham designer Martine Rose, whose previous collections of street-wear styled models gave rise to the tagline the ‘Martine Rose Gang’, reflected on the early nineties in her use of baggy trousers, cropped denim jackets and Caterpillar boots. Rose combined this with an exploration of her Jamaican roots through the use of Rastafarian fabrics and motifs.

Tailoring was not forgotten, however, and was given a fresh look in the collection by menswear duo Agi and Sam. Made in their Mare Street studio, the collection they presented was called ‘The Native American Colonisation of European States’, which featured plentiful tailoring played out in vibrant patterned fabrics, cropped trousers and long suit coats in mustard and cobalt blue.

Katie Eary’s dazzling fuchsia-based collection included floral bomber jackets paired with heavy black trousers and coats. The East London-based designer played with androgyny and celebrated the amorphous quality of fashion by having men and women model the collection. J.W.Anderson played with similar ideas, creating a controversial menswear collection of futuristic leather mini dresses and frilly skirts worn by chiselled male models.

On the back of this homage to hommes is the widely anticipated AW13 London Fashion Week, in February.

East London designers are set to reign supreme again this season. The Centre for Fashion Enterprise (CFE) on Mare Street is London’s pioneering business incubator that supports and nurtures emerging fashion design talent. A number of their designers will be showcasing, including favourites such as Louise Gray, Holly Fulton and Marques’ Almeida.

The show by avant-garde design duo Meadham Kirchhoff is expected to be one of the highlights of the week, along with other East Londoners such as milliner-turned-designer, Nasir Mazhar.

There is no denying that LFW has an air of exclusivity, but over the last few years the British Fashion Council has used the latest developments in technology to bring shows to the public through live streams.

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