London Fashion Week AW19: Fresh Faces On The Catwalks:

MATTY BOVAN AW19 Show at London Fashion Week February 2019


Is there a risk that the twice yearly London Fashion Week is becoming a bit too predictable and routine? The press release issued by the British Fashion Council (BFC) prior to the latest LFW (Friday 15th – Tuesday 19th February) – which emphasized that the event would feature the very best of both the established and emerging names within the industry – indicated that the BFC is aware of this possibility and determined to ensure that it doesn’t happen. It welcomed back the long list of internationally celebrated designers who appear at LFW on a regular basis, but also highlighted the new additions to the schedule such as 16Arlington (founded by the Italian couple Marco & Kikka), Asai (of Chinese / Vietnamese heritage) and Symonds Pearmain (“a complex London-based collaboration between designer Anthony Symonds and stylist Max Pearmain”)

As the BFC pointed out, the UK fashion industry continues to make a significant contribution of £32.3 billion to the country’s GDP and it “employs almost as many people as Britain’s financial sector with 890,000 jobs”. The London Evening Standard columnist Richard Gray, observed in the ES special Fashion Edition on 15th February that the world’s fashion media and buyers would be descending on the capital for LFW AW (Autumn/ Winter)19 in their thousands but that it would be “the new generation, those young designers and graduates from our world-beating fashion colleges and art schools” who would be sparking the most interest”. Despite adversity and cuts in government arts education funding, he added, the capital’s fashion innovators are finding new ways to create and collaborate on clothes.

Gray cited as examples Asai “who creates bold and beautiful dresses by mixing tie-dye silks with overlooked fabrics” and Ahluwalia Studio,”meshing youth cultures from around the world to create a new and truly unique take on streetwear”. Gray’s ES colleague, Sabrina Carder, likewise focused on “the emerging designers to watch out for at LFW AW19”, namely the debut of British designer Bethany Williams, “who tackles social issues through fashion” (Tuesday 19th February), the “bright and bold knitwear” of Katie Ann McGuigan from Ireland (Saturday 16th February) and the presentation by Supriya Lele (Monday 18th February), whose designs “explore the cross-cultural points of her Indian heritage and British cultural identity”.

Although 180 The Strand is now the established HQ for LFW , Somerset House – just a few minutes walk away – has become the venue for the International Fashion Showcase, which takes place simultaneously to LFW, though for longer (11th – 24th February). The purpose of this event – organised jointly by the BFC, British Council, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London (UAL) and Somerset House – is to nurture and present work from the best up-and-coming fashion talent from around the globe. This time,in a new format called “Brave New World”, 16 designers – from Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, India, Georgia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Lithuania, Netherlands, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uruguay and Vietnam – had been selected to exhibit “ a series of compelling installations” from their respective countries.

Colombia was represented by the Bogota-based designer Laura Laurens, whose “Wraparound” display of intricate beaded Okama necklaces had been created together with two LGBTQ+ members from the indigenous Embara community. The contribution of the Uruguayan womenswear designer, Clara Aguayo, from Montevideo was titled “Anxious Memories From the End Of The World”and reflected her predisposition for using “fabrics rescued from the past glory days of Uruguay’s textile industry”. A pivotal objective of Brazilian David Lee, another of the chosen 16, is to “explore the dual notions of masculine strength and fragility”. The centrepiece of his display was crochet and sportswear from Ceara in north-east Brazil.

Emerging brands, however, according to the Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson, are struggling to gain exposure on social media because it is saturated by the established labels. There was a moment, he told the ES journalist Lizzie Edmonds on 13th February, when social media was great for young brands because the big brands weren’t using it. Now newcomers are being “squeezed out” by the large fashion houses who are buying up a huge market share of celebrity content. Anderson acknowledged that Brexit is causing uncertainty in the industry. At the official opening of LFW on 15th February, the BFC Chief, Caroline Rush, declared her priority was to prove London fashion is open and to counter the “closed-off” image the UK may be suffering.

Meanwhile, the Guardian correspondent Zoe Wood has reported that big clothing retailers such as Primark, Boohoo and Misguided have been criticised by some MPs for “fuelling a throwaway fashion culture linked to the exploitation of low-paid workers in UK factories”. If shoppers are paying only £2 for their T-shirts, they are more likely to view them as “disposal”. The result, noted Wood, is that about 1 million tonnes of clothes are discarded each year in Britain – 700,000 tonnes of which is collected for reuse and recycling. The remainder is sent to landfill or incinerated, at an estimated cost of £82 million.

Roberta Einer                        Junne      LFW AW19










Filed under: Media, Society | Posted on February 25th, 2019 by Colin D Gordon

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