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#LCM AW13 Report: Wearability

Header image (left-right): Oliver Spencer, Richard Nicoll, YMC

Time and again, when after we’ve covered fashion shows and we talk to our mates (the ones that don’t work in fash), they say “But seriously, who’s going to wear that?!” Obviously catwalk fashion is more than just things you can buy on the high-street – it’s applied art, it’s complex concepts, it’s perfectly-executed clothes without compromise – but in menswear, the wearability factor is becoming increasingly important. While London, in both mens and womenswear, is traditionally known for the haute concept ideas from young designers that kick off ideas which bleed into larger design houses several seasons later, the male approach to clothes, and therefore catwalk shows, is totally different. This season’s #LCM showcased a number of designers who both presented fresh, buzzy concepts that were ahead of the continental  curve but also eminently wearable – and not just if you happen to be dressing for the style-paparazzi outside a fashion show, but in the real world, every day.

(left-right): Margaret Howell, John Smedley, Nicole Farhi

This wearability obviously comes on a sliding scale. Brands like John Smedley and Orlebar Brown showed clothes that will go direct from presentation to retail without change – the showcase was however a great opportunity to present the more directional and exciting items from commercial collections. Plus Fair Isle long johns and Miami swimwear respectively are always great to see on a cold January morning. Looking to higher-end presentations, Nicole Farhi and Margaret Howell both presented collections that were impeccably-tailored, eminently wearable and also nodded very subtly towards trends: Farhi had fur accents and stark white tailoring (including a pair of swoonworthy white brogues) amongst its classic offering; while Howell’s utilitarian chic made me think of Breton sailors in the mist (not a Jean Genet fantasy, I promise) and was accessorised by this season’s finishing touch du jour: the peaked beret.

(top: Oliver Spencer; bottom: YMC)

Oliver Spencer did the same with orange accents and horizontal striping – this was a show that most resembled what and how the #LCM attendees were dressed, but broke it down into wearable nuggets and cohesive looks, any of which you could get away with for a weekend perambulate into town. Over at YMC, the British brand’s inimitable chic aesthetic felt moved up a level – pieces were sharp, refined and also much more directional than seen previously – back zips on jackets, sleek boilersuits (not as much of an oxymoron as it might sound), quilting, teal, peaked berets…the list of trend nods goes on, and showed that the design team are thinking forward and not just current.

Richard Nicoll

It was those more conceptual, high-end designers that surprised by showing collections that took trends further than expected, but in a show where every look was not only wearable, but totally desirable. Richard Nicoll’s use of safety orange was a headliner, but away from these brights, his entire collection dabbled in trends but digested them for a discerning customer. Sharp and futuristic, I personally would happily wear every look from Nicoll AW13 on a day-to-day basis 9just in case you’re reading, Richard).

(Left & centre: Baartmans & Siegel; Right: Qasimi)

Designers like Baartmans & Siegel and Qasimi took the same approach, experimenting with textures, shapes and fabrics to create luxe wearable collections that showcased smart and casual looks for collections that run the gamut of life as it should be lived. Baartmans took the explorer trend and gave it a futuristic spin, with their trademark juxtaposition of exquisite fabrics and textures evoking a futuristic traveller. The looks were both street and smart, and while it might stretch the strict edges of wearability in terms of full looks, the individual pieces are TO DIE FOR. Qasimi’s unusual presentation style again referenced mixed textures and teal with luscious jacquards and while leather t-shirts and elbow-length gauntlets might not quite cut it down your local, the rest of the collection is definitely one that you could comfortably wear daily.

Last but not least, Mr Porter. The renowned online retailer dipped its toe into London’s young designers, with each of them producing a 3-piece capsule collection for the site. Fab brands like Sibling, Katie Eary, Matthew Miller and Richard Nicoll all put together short and long-sleeve jersey and merino tops that showcase their wares to a new audience in Mr Porter’s consumers. This approach to wearability is absolutely brilliant – gambling your retail strategy on lesser-known designers isn’t for every retailer, but it’s one that many of the big stores and sites would do well to emulate. For the big barrier to wearability for many of the brands showing at #LCM isn’t inventiveness or approach of the customer, it’s the simple fact of availability at stockists.

- Seb Law

 Images: Catwalking.com

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