Fotis Evans portrait
(Image credit: press)

Fotis Evans

Industrial designer

What does Modern England mean to you?

I came to London from Greece because there's nowhere else designers can express themselves so freely. It's in the history of the place: a small island off the coast of a big continent but one that ruled the world and everyone can speak its language. In a way you could say England is still like an empire in that it has no borders. People come and go. It's an international place. England changed me – changed my work and changed the kind of person I am. For instance, I live in a small flat and I've become excited by modular furniture. London isn't all polished and clean - it's a place of flea markets and makeshift things. I don't like wide, clean spaces, I like odd angles and strange rooms. I love London. It's become part of who I am.

Fotis Evans wears Umbro Modern England graphic T-shirt

Peter Saville's capsule collection for Umbro is rooted in football but celebrates English diversity. We asked the nation's young creative talent to take up his threads.

Modern England is a nebulous idea – so constantly changing that if you try to grab it, you'll find something else entirely is sitting in your hand. Inspired by this, iconic graphic designer Peter Saville has designed a capsule menswear collection for Umbro that takes as its starting point the English love of football and the country's classic St George's Cross symbol, and twists into a multicoloured canvas that reflects modern England's diversity in everything from politics and religion to fashion and design.

To celebrate this ever-changing aspect of the nation's creativity, Saville collaborated with Wallpaper's editors to select a group of up-and-coming designers from across the country. We dressed each in an item of clothing from Umbro's new collection, which features stylish jackets, crew-necks, polo shirts and T-shirts, adorned with Saville's multicoloured cross pattern (also currently seen on the England home strip). The chosen designers – architect Asif Khan; art director Aneel Kalsi; furniture designer Fotis Evans; sculptor Philip Li; product designer Tom Nelson; Robin Grasby and Marc Bell, aka Inter-national; fashion editor-turned fashion designer Olie Arnold; and graphic designer-cum-record label boss Ben Seary – then revealed what modern England means to them.

The Modern England collection by Peter Saville for Umbro is available exclusively from Harvey Nichols.


Tom Nelson

Product designer, Coventry

What does Modern England mean to you?

We're still an industrial country, but our product is changing. A bit like me. I've lived in Coventry my whole life, which probably explains the sobriety and linearity of my designs. I trained as an engineer, which wasn't creatively fulfilling, but the experience was invaluable and probably continues to inform the look of my work today. Because of our industrial heritage, we still have incredible manufacturing resources and are also lucky enough to be one of Europe's cultural centres. But the best thing here is the creative community.

Tom Nelson wears Umbro Modern England crew top.

Tom Nelson portrait

(Image credit: press)

Philip Li

Sculptural designer, Huddersfield

What does Modern England mean to you?

Modern England is very forward thinking and expansive. It's perfect for designers to develop. It gives you the chance to experiment, sample, and think and work freely. I don't think I would be the designer I am if I lived anywhere else. I was born in Huddersfield to Chinese parents and I literally couldn't do the things I want to do elsewhere. My work runs from sculpture to design and that sort of flexibility is not just allowed, it's encouraged.

Philip Li wears Umbro Modern England crew T-shirt

Philip Li portrait

(Image credit: press)

Aneel Kalsi

Art director and designer, Brighton

What does Modern England mean to you?

It's a place that offers so much choice. Culturally it's so rich. Growing up a British Indian in the suburbs of London enabled me to have the choice of not belonging to a single demographic. In the suburbs in the late 90s, music and fashion were expressions of culture. I guess that is similar to the way I work, as I try to make a conscience effort to not design in one way. I try and mix things up, working across disciplines, sometimes conceptually or purely aesthetically. I think I am most proud of the projects that have involved both image making/art direction and graphic design; I want my practise to sit right in the middle of the two disciplines.

Aneel Kalsi wears Umbro Modern England polo shirt

Aneel Kalsi portrait

(Image credit: press)

Asif Khan

Architect, London

What does Modern England mean to you?

There are aspects of Modern England that remind me of 60s England at its best РBengali kids wearing sharp suits, Italian design hitting working class Mods, a kind of open-to-the-world feel but with something still basically British at its core. East London has always been at the leading edge of that and that's never changed. The more we can absorb from the continent and the more we can re-interpret, the better I think we can be. My parents came to England 50 years ago and I feel more English than anything else. In fact, I should probably explore my heritage a little more in my work. But what I think Modern England is brilliant at is taking a view of all the cultures it embraces, pulling a little bit out here and there, combining it and then selling back to the home culture because it's a little bit better after we’ve got our hands on it.

Asif Khan wears Umbro Modern England graphic T-shirt

Asif Khan portrait

(Image credit: press)

Ben Seary

Graphic designer, Manchester

What does Modern England mean to you?

I'm from Bristol originally, then I studied in Manchester and I'm currently in London, so I've had the pleasure of experiencing some brilliant cities in England, and all of them have influenced me in a variety of ways. From signage in the street to art in galleries, there is so much visual material surrounding us to learn from. The pace of business and culture here is so fast, which really pushes your creativity.

Ben Seary wears Umbro Modern England crew top

Photo taken in Browns Studio London

Ben Seary portrait

(Image credit: press)

Olie Arnold

Fashion designer, Falmouth

What does Modern England mean to you?

The UK has always been an incredibly creative and innovative place, which I think is thanks largely to the strong and diverse sub cultures we have created and embraced over the years. I'm pleased to see that we're growing as a nation and moving forward quickly, I hope it carries on that way. We have become much better at encouraging growing talents and allowing them to strive for so much more than what has previously been available.

I am a big fan of product that has been designed and made in England. The craftsman ship of tailoring on Savile Row and the traditional, yet relevant, footwear of Northampton is very unique and there are a few new brands out there who are committed to reviving this lost art. We are also lucky enough to live in a fairly democratic society that allows creativity and experimentation in our work and I hope that we can get out of the funk that we are in right now economy wise fast, so that we don't lose anymore of what makes us great.

Olie Arnold wears Umbro Modern England crew T-shirt

Olie Arnold portrait

(Image credit: press)

Robin Grasby and Marc Bell

International Studio Industrial designers, London

What does Modern England mean to you?

Bacon and Eggs. Complaints. Queuing. Pasties. Pre-sliced bread. Sunday. Football. Tea. Toast. Alan Sugar. The Pub. House Prices. The concept of England as a nation or culture in it's own right is very rarely considered in modern contexts. It has become a notion more linked to tradition in the media and sport. We are now equally aware of a broader European and international culture as we are of our own.

As designers, we are not influenced so much by English culture but more by the global influences that the modern English society attracts. We feel we don't draw any direct influence from specific sources, more by simple observations of our immediate environment and the objects and systems around us. Our environment now, in 'Modern England' is saturated with products of diverse and foreign cultures. This essentially offers a far broader spectrum of influence than the country has previously known; a diversity we feel is enormously beneficial to our working practice.

Robin Grasby wears Umbro Modern England zip jacket; Marc Bell wears Umbro Modern England polo shirt

Robin Grasby and Marc Bell portrait

(Image credit: press)
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.