Bianca Saunders on the evolution of her label, which makes the ‘familiar unfamiliar’

Next Generation 2023: British designer Bianca Saunders – who won the prestigious Andam Award in 2021 – on maturing and evolving her cult menswear label. ‘I no longer consider myself an emerging designer,’ she tells Jack Moss

Person in Bianca Saunders vest and shorts on chair
Shorts, £465, by Bianca Saunders
(Image credit: Photography by Jessica Madavo, fashion by Clara Mary Joy)

Bianca Saunders is part of ‘The New Fashion Vanguard’ – four international fashion labels and designers presenting a new way to dress, as featured in ‘The Future Issue’ of Wallpaper* where we meet the rising stars shaking up the creative industries. 

In 2021, British menswear designer Bianca Saunders received one of fashion’s most noteworthy prizes, the Andam award, placing her in an esteemed company – previous winners have included Martin Margiela, Christophe Lemaire and Iris Van Herpen. 

Saunders was selected for her subtly subversive designs, which play with the textures and proportions of traditional menswear garments – notably, denim jeans and jackets, and the tailored suit. A condition of the prize is for the winner to hold their runway shows in Paris each season, which Saunders believes has significantly elevated her output already (September 2022 marked her sophomore show in the city). 

‘I think it’s really matured the brand, and the conversations people have about it,’ she says. ‘Winning Andam means no longer considering myself an emerging designer, but a designer that is serious about fashion, about my audience, about quality and craft.’

Bianca Saunders on making the ‘familiar unfamiliar’

Person in Bianca Saunders red vest and silver trouseers

Top, £175; trousers, £1,290, both by Bianca Saunders

(Image credit: Photography by Jessica Madavo, fashion by Clara Mary Joy)

Saunders continues to maintain a studio in London – where she grew up, in the south-east London neighbourhood of Lewisham – the city continuing to inspire her work, which she describes as making the ‘familiar unfamiliar’. As such, for her S/S 2023 collection, she took cues from Jamaican ‘hard food’, whereby solid starches like yams, green bananas and potato are boiled for long periods until soft – an ode to her British-Carribean roots. ‘I liked the idea of conceptualising that [idea] into how I worked with materials,’ she says. ‘So pieces were either hard in the front or soft in the back, or had the fluidity of moving water. I think it was a different way of bringing my culture into fashion.’

Such experimentations are at the heart of Saunders’ work, which now extends across disciplines; in 2022, she collaborated with Ecco Leather on a piece of furniture as part of its At.Kollective project. She explains that a boundary-pushing approach has been part of her label since its inception, on graduating from London’s Royal College of Art in 2017. ‘I liked the fact that menswear has rules to it,’ she says. ‘So then I start thinking: how do you push those boundaries?’

Model: Xelia at Milk Management. Casting: Feranmi Eso. Hair: Kim Rance at LGA Management using Authentic Beauty Concept. Make-up: Marina Belfon-Rose using RMS Beauty. Photography assistants: James Robertson, Sam Callahan. Fashion assistant: Yun Zhang. Hair assistant: Anastasiia Gryniuka

A version of this story appeared in the January 2023 issue of Wallpaper*, available now in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.

With contributions from