Fashion East A/W 2019 London Fashion Week Men’s
Mood board: The talent incubator Fashion East was established by the Old Truman Brewery in 2000 to nurture designers through the early stages of their careers. And in the last 19 years, so much has changed. Galvanised by the advent of social media, fashion itself today swings at a much faster pace; trends and ideas are now as fleeting as the food we consume. Our politics are different; the feeling for what is important is different. The London that provided the playground for pioneering talents like McQueen and Galliano is a distant memory and Brick Lane itself – where the autumn/winter 2019 menswear shows were being staged – is unrecognisably smart. Designers starting their own labels today are more concerned with authenticity. They are locked into the politics of identity. And place. This season two new designers had their debuts: Robyn Lynch and Mowalola Ogunlesi.
Best in show: The push back against the more cerebral, insta-friendly modesty is coming and a generation of designers working today seem to have dived head first into McQueen’s archives most notably drawing on his bumster trousers. For her Fashion East debut, Nigeria-born Mowalola peeled down the waistband on trousers to sit just above the crotch on men in an ode to a street uniform of jeans worn low on the body. Her girls wore barely-there minis and cut-away tops with thigh high, high boots. The photographer Lea Colombo lent her erotic nudes as prints which featured atop of nappa trenches and pebbled calfskin jackets. Textures were glossy, much of the body left exposed. ‘I’m interested in exposure – whether that’s emotional exposure, showing your skin or becoming fully vulnerable,’ she said. These were provocative, pulsating clothes. A bracing dose of high octane sex and sleaze. In contrast, University of Westminster graduate Robyn Lynch opened the show with a washed blue cable-knit/fleece hybrid worn with cotton trousers – the look encapsulated Lynch’s interests in the heritage of Irish menswear. Her approach is uncomplicated and unpretentious. Inspiration for the sporty collection came from archive footage of players and fans at the Dublin Games – a much less self-conscious time when comfort was key. Nylon trackpants were cut with a high waist. Arran knits appeared in various guises.
Finishing touches: For their final collection as part of Fashion East, the textile duo Stefan Cooke and partner Jake Burt reflected on their earlier work; the hallmarks of the nascent brand are the subversion of craft and the pomp of tromp l’oeil. Standout were pieces made using strips of elasticated leather. Inspired by the gusset detail on a Chelsea boot, the duo created fitted shirts, slim pants and zip-up collared shirts that eased open as the body moved. §