At Graduate Fashion Week 2017, there were so many collections in the menswear category, that it was refreshing and inspiring to see young designers ensuring that the great tailoring of menswear remains a prominent part of the fashion industry. Womenswear can often take precedent, and at GFW we love celebrating the unusual, the creative and the diverse. Almost every university showcased a men’s collection, but several graduates stood out by challenging the conventional ideas of menswear, using ‘feminine silhouettes’ and fabrics like silk, lace and sheer fabrics. We also saw a more diverse selection of models, with Ellen Fowles’ collection modelled entirely by older men at the Ravensbourne show.
At the Arts University Bournemouth show Hamza Hussein sent one of the male models down the catwalk in a black boiler suit with white lace trimmings, a medallion headpiece and a sheer veil made of dark fine lace. It was a very accessory-focused collection with nearly every look styled with strings of pearls and it was great to see jewellery play a bigger part in menswear. At the same show Alix Whitehead featured cardboard coloured skirts with anatomical drawings like the Da Vinci Vitruvian man. We even saw Yu Lin Fu mix menswear and womenswear, making the silhouettes of her looks more masculine and tailored with delicate red and navy floral details added to bring just the right amount of femininity.
Sheer fabrics like chiffon or voile are usually seen more in womenswear, so naturally the David Band Textiles Award winner, Stefan Efobi, caught our eye with his collection featuring a chest-baring top paired with a crimson coloured jacket hanging off the shoulders and matching highwaisted trousers. The Manchester School of Art graduate developed an ultra-fine knit to create a see-through effect and the innovative way he works with materials makes his win well deserved.
Charlotte Cox from De Montfort presented us with a blue camouflage-themed collection of weatherproof jackets with oversized clear pockets. An interesting twist were the sliders strapped to the models feet with ‘fragile’ packing tape!
Camouflage was a common theme in menswear, but UCA Epsom’s Jamie Backshall brought a softness and femininity to his collection by adding touches like salmon pink faux fur and roses printed on one particular green camo coat. Roses were a constant throughout his collection as an ode to Tupac Shakur's poem "The Rose That Grew From The Concrete".
With so many graduate designers showing that there is more to menswear than just sportswear and suits at GFW, we look forward to seeing how they will help shape the future of men’s fashion!
Words by Jasmin Oakes