future now | london fashion week men’s aw20

Feng Chen Wang

A new decade means new beginnings, and nowhere was that more evident than London Fashion Week Men’s A/W 2020, which took place January 4-6. Designers pulled out all the stops this season, taking influence from both this perceived new era and the lingering tumult of the modern world to create striking, eye-catching collections. Naturally, Schön! was there to discover some of the most interesting collections of the week. Here is what we found.

Stefan Cooke and partner Jake Burt will kick off our coverage of the week with their ominously titled collection “The End.” The setting of the presentation was equally foreboding — music stands and vacant chairs filled the room, breeding a disquieting and inhuman feeling of emptiness. As the show began, these airs began to humanise; pieces like slashed knits signalled not so much death, but a departure from the standards of old. That said, the label’s continuing strengths still made their presence known in this collection, with the duo utilising and reforming British staples like argyle and tweed to incredible effect. A new collaboration with Lee jeans was also debuted, perhaps another indication of where Stefan Cooke plans to move in the coming years.

This season, Ahluwalia Studio took its inspiration from the year 1965. Why 1965? As designer Priya Ahluwalia tells it, the year was a “special time” for her family. With this collection, she says, she wanted to move past the audience’s preconceived notions of the 1960s, creating a more comprehensive view of this deeply impactful time. Pulling from sources as far and wide as India, Nigeria and the U.K. itself, the result is a vibrant, groovy collection ripe with wavy and mesmerising patterns. The silhouettes were as varied as their colours; sportswear and formal tailoring were presented one after the other, still never breaking the collection’s coherence. As with the previous entry on our list, collaboration was integral to Ahluwalia’s showing, with the designer continuing her work with Adidas to debut pairs of reconfigured Superstars.

The collaboration train continues with Pronounce, who teamed up with Diesel for a unisex ready-to-wear and denim collection comprising eighteen pieces. While this is only a taste of Pronounce’s full collection — we’ll have to wait until Shanghai Fashion Week in March to see what else they have to offer — what was given to us was promising. Ideas were picked up from Diesel’s extensive archive (the team behind Pronounce says they browsed through nearly 200,000 Diesel pieces in the process of creating this collection), though this did not work to date their collection. Blending history with modernity was key, and the resultant collection offered tie-dyes alongside striking graphics and off-colour stitching.

Astrid Andersen’s collection offered her take on neo-psychedelia. Memories of the ’70s fixed in her work, and while lingering elements of Andersen’s history were still obviously present (look to the graphic tracksuits and various oversized works) this collection seemed to find Andersen at her most muted. Despite this hesitance toward her flashiness of old, several pieces managed to strike the audience harder than others — floor-length real-fur coats were certainly an odd way to enter 2020. Additionally, a footwear collaboration was debuted: Danish sportswear label hummel worked with the designer to create a creamy white, orange and black shoe called the “Reach LX.” It’s unclear if moves like these are indicative of a new chapter in Astrid Andersen’s story, but at the very least, the designer clearly found a new way to utilise the free spirit that first brought her attention nearly a decade ago. 

Chinese-born, London-based designer Feng Chen Wang has been discussed as a “designer to watch” for a few years running, and this collection is yet another reason why this title is one she has definitely earned. This collection meant experimentation rooted in tradition; Wang returned to hometown in China for inspiration, sourcing local materials and learning ancient dyeing techniques in the process. Work like this mixed with a return to her collaboration with Converse meant a collection filled with everything from technical wear to workwear to athleisure and beyond. Accessories were an integral part of this collection; memorable pieces include an “F”-shaped bag and a variety of sunglasses and headpieces.

Qasimi is the last label we’ll cover this time around. Qasimi was in a difficult place at the end of last year; founder and creative mastermind of the label Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi passed away in July, leaving both audiences and Qasimi itself wondering what might become of the brand. This collection is an answer to that question. Fittingly titled “Rise from the Darkness,” the label — now led by Al Qasimi’s sister, Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi — debuted a range of Middle East-inspired fits perfect for the contemporary urban nomad. There was a distinct moodiness to be sure, but the works never felt too chilling. No piece seemed too far of a departure from what Qasimi had been previously heralded for. The final line of the show was “Renewal, Rebirth, Immortality” — a well-suited end to both Qasimi’s collection and our coverage of the first major menswear week of a new decade.

Find out more information about London Fashion Week Men’s here.

photography. Quentin de Ladelune
words. Braden Bjella

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