Menswear puts London back on world fashion map

Pic: agi & sam by Frances J Davison

Men’s fashion week saw London put tailoring back on the map. Emerging labels such as Craig Green, J.W. Anderson and agi & sam providing sharp tailoring, stinging colour palettes and innovation unlike any seen in the industry since the invention of the trouser suit.

Fashion became a female domain in the 18th century when the neo-Renaissance was born from the ashes of the Rococo period. Women continued to wear frills and frou but men went in a different direction – wearing pared back suits, clean-cut shirts and tall top hats that symbolised the chimneys of the Industrial Revolution.

At art colleges the country over, womenswear is given an enormous amount of attention as sparsely attended menswear courses are left to fester. This is damaging to the UK fashion industry, as menswear is an increasingly lucrative market, and designing for men requires a completely different and far more complicated skillset.

Pic: Backstage at MAN by Frances J Davison

In womenswear tailoring and pattern cutting are often neglected in favour of draped chiffon and scattered sparkle. Yet these techniques are the lifeblood of men’s design and have become a dying art over the last ten years, with the number of Savile Row tailors declining to an all time low of 19 in 2006.

The Row, once the worldwide bastion of men’s style, is now reluctantly becoming colonised by the likes of American menswear company Abercrombie and Fitch, a brand that encapsulates the antithesis of the tailoring street.

Unrest about this steep decline began to run through Central St Martins in 2007. There were students who switched from women’s to menswear in an effort to instigate change; others who probed the decline of British menswear in their theses.

By 2010, the graduate fashion shows openly displayed the change. Attendees at the oversubscribed womenswear shows missed the slick, austere style that had bubbled up in the menswear studios, each collection complete with a peppering of British humour.

Now, designers are playing to their clients’ inner peacocks whilst maintaining the sharp techniques that previously made London famous for menswear, finally giving the city the right to be re-crowned a genuine fashion capital in 2013.

Pic: Backstage at agi & sam by Frances J Davison


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