The June 2016 edition of London Collections Men, the twice-yearly celebration of British menswear that's now in its fourth year, saw two of its biggest names -- Burberry and Alexander McQueen -- taking a pass this time around, but there were plenty of designers ready to fill the void. The four days of runway shows acts as something of a kickoff for a new round of menswear catwalk presentations, and fashion critics have noted that the event has carved an identity that places an emphasis on the individual; consequently, established brands arrive looking to distinguish themselves from the pack, while newcomers come prepared to stake their claim. The event, organized by the British Fashion Council, featured a total of 57 designers. Six of the best are showcased in the galleries below.
Neil Barrett's Spring/Summer 2017 collection was a meditation on '70s Americana, as viewed from distinctly Southwestern lens. It was nothing if not consistent, with brown leather with contrast-colored stripes and chevron patterns appeared again and again. Boxy jackets and sweaters were paired with tapered trousers, offering a dichotomy of shapes echoed by the larger themes of retro style and sleek modernism.
Xander Zhou's Spring/Summer 2017 collection conjured up images of punk rebellion and tribalism in equal measure, featuring gaunt models draped in camo, leather and synthetic PVC. And make no mistake, "drape" is the operative word here, as the collection highlighted elongated proportions, with long trenchcoats and knits complemented by chains, weathered sneakers and platform-sole boots. Gender lines are blurred, while youthful exuberance holds steady.
Christopher Shannon titled his Spring/Summer 2017 collection "Provincial Heartbreak," with the show notes describing "functionality and hard-wearing textiles." If those were the only facts you had to go on, you would have never guessed just how playful the resulting looks actually appeared. Highlights included a denim jacket and jeans overcome with dozens of belt loops, as well as denim jeans repurposed as shorts and makeshift leg-warmers. Elswehere, waist bands were stacked on top of each other, while denim anoraks and track suits cast the utilitarian fabric in a leisurely light.
Christopher Raeburn teamed up with the German leather goods brand MCM for a collection designed for modern traveling. Raeburn specialzes in functional attire marked by a modernist edge, and his singualar aesthetic was on full display on the classic silhouettes, highlighted by bombers, parkas, ponchos and shorts. Each was adorned with unique camouflage patterns and textured quilting, while the accompanying baggage featured a modular system that allows pouches to be tacked onto weekend totes or backpacks.
As always, Margaret Howell's collection was clean and timeless, bordering on the austere. There was a subtle quirkiness in the proportions, which featured boxy shirts tucked into high-waisted pleated-front pants for a throwback schoolboy look. An understated color palette stuck to blues, browns, grays and khakis, which combined with the fabrics and textures to evoke the image of an Englishman abroad.
Ximon Lee, the first-ever menswear designer to take home the H&M Design Award, presented his first collection in London, following his presentation debut in Paris last season. In a short period of time, Lee has established something of a signature style, characterized by oversized proportions and couture-like reinterpretations of denim. Both were materially present at his London runway show.