London’s global dominance as a hub of innovation and culture is evident at fashion weeks where the city’s established and emerging designers shine. London’s status as a fashion capital is partly due to the exceptional financial and business support it receives from organizations such as the British Fashion Council. At the start of this month’s mini-annual Summer London Fashion Week, which mainly showcases menswear, Grace Wells Bonner was announced as the winner of the 2023 BFC/GQ Designer Fashion Fund. The generous prize includes £100,000, a 12-month business mentoring program and legal services from Sheridans. Wells Bonner’s brand has had commercial success with clever collaborations with Adidas, musician Kendrick Lamar and artist Lubaina Himid. This award will undoubtedly help the intelligent designer to achieve more.
Other new designers scheduled to show at the June show were BFC NEWGEN designer Saul Nash, Sagaboi and graduates from Ravensbourne and Westminster Universities. Also featured were influential designs from London brand SMR Days, founded in 2020 by industry veterans Adam Shapiro, Dan May and Gautam Rajani, and the creations of Los Angeles-based menswear designer Justin Cassin.
With the ongoing support of the British Fashion Council it’s always exciting and great to see what graduate designers are creating. Ravensbourne University London presented a program featuring 15 graduate designers in menswear and womenswear. The BA (Hons) Fashion course at Ravensbourne has a strong international reputation and its students have gone on to work for top brands such as Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Chloe, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Oscar De La Renta, Stella McCartney and Victoria Beckham. Highlights include Monica Masnita’s futuristic designs launching a high-energy show, Salma Tahir’s fluid, minimalist, black leather uppers, Maira Rupprecht’s use of dead stock fabrics from Burberry, and Annie Severs’ sculptural sweaters.
Shown on a sunny London rooftop, the fun collection from SMR Days was inspired by North Africa. Bold block prints, hexagon, checkerboard and tesla diamond patterns are applied on shirts, jackets, pants and shorts in khaki cotton and silk. The block printing is done in Jaipur, using traditional craft techniques and translating it into modern designs, complementing the clothes are bags of different sizes, ongoing collaboration with SMR Days and independent Maison Bengal, is an ethical, fair trade brand especially in collaboration with mothers and young women in Bangladesh. Established to help fight poverty.
Following last season’s lively and vibrant brand unveiling, designer Geoff Cooper draws inspiration from people’s migration and cultures’ imagined and real responses to familiarity with new places. Sagaboy is associated with the Caribbean subculture of “saga boy” (a West Indian word meaning “playboy” or one who dresses in an extremely fashionable and stylish manner) that emerged in the 1930s as a form of male rebellion. Sagaboy’s SS24 collection “fresh off the boat”, anchored in the Caribbean, is filled with the forces of an “intermix” of colour, texture, print and accessories. Key looks include a multi-colored steel pan vest and stunning knitwear handcrafted by knitters in the Caribbean. Other fabrics in the collection include denim, linen, raw silk, sea island cotton and suede. The color palette of the collection is tropical with bright blues, reds and yellows mixed with ecru, lilac, yellow, peach, mint and sand with pastel tones. London’s Docklands Museum seems particularly appropriate as the location of this season’s runway show. Located on West India Quay in East London, this Georgian sugar warehouse tells the story of the port, the river and the city in particular – focusing on London’s trade, migration and commerce.
Menswear designer and choreographer Saul Nash continues to cleverly bridge the gap between luxury menswear and sportswear with unique technical garments designed for freedom of movement. Fashionistas love his designs. American Sarah Mower Vogue Saul Nash says that he has a “sensitivity and intelligence that works really well on the structure of the design.” Hypebeast He says he is “the next sportswear star.”
Australian menswear designer Justin Cassin returns to London Fashion Week with a stunning Autumn/Winter 24 collection at Vinyl Factory Soho. His contemporary menswear is a playful exploration of classic tailored shapes in innovative fabrics.
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