Over the last ten days I have been reminded why menswear design is so exciting here in the capital. My London Fashion Week began with a three hour exploration of the Showroom Next Door. The Showroom has managed to improve on the success of its debut season and for SS11 the larger showroom space welcomed Hannah Martin, Armando Cabral, Cherry Brown, BUNNEY and Tigersushi Furs alongside a few old favourites. The expanded Showroom Next Door was an interesting and vibrant place where fashion, art and craftsmanship can be appreciated side by side. These are exciting times for menswear and I'm so pleased that there are platforms like the Showroom Next Door that help to showcase the obvious and abundant talent that calls the capital its home. After a trio of single brand focused posts and the need to begin reviewing Menswear Day in more detail, I thought it best to summarise the remaining brands.
One of the first things that caught my eye was Cherry Brown. The designer, Keiko Ishikawa previously worked as a flower and interior designer and is now a self-taught jewellery designer. In 2006 she launched Cherry Brown. The range builds an original cocktail of jewelery and corsage as it focuses on the theme "creation with joy". The collection showcases hand craftsmanship throughout and the delicate paper flower pins (pictured above) would brighten up any lapel.
The H by H by Harris label heralds the new school in desirable contemporary accessories. Launched in AW09 to great success, designed and manufactured in the UK, the brainchild of stylist Harris Elliott. Regular readers will recall that the debut H by Harris collection comprised itself of two lines, the Q hand quilted nappa leather and the SH wax hide leather collection. Both left me wanting to sell an organ or turn to a life of crime just to have one hanging off his arm.
Harris' personal need to find a stylish yet practical laptop case has continued to evolve into a thoroughly modern, yet understated luxury luggage brand which is designed and manufactured in the UK. Appealing to men and women the style savvy and classic consumer alike, meeting practical and aesthetic desires. Harris designs using the term 'luxury fatigues' to define his unique style.
Known as a knitwear brand The Inoue Brothers have been searching to further their endeavors in creating relations in communities where craftsmanship and cultural heritages are rich. The communities found for their projects are purposely chosen for their less enriched history of financial stability and opportunity. Progressing from their collaboration with the indigenous Andean knitters of Bolivia, the brothers have ventured to the continent of the century - Africa, their starting point being the township of Khayelitsha, South Africa.
In Khayelitsha, the Brothers have formed a relationship with a community and a co-operative of beading ladies who use their unique skills to create beautiful beaded pieces original to South Africa. Using eco friendly organic hemp material as canvases for these beading pieces, the final garments are produced through an uncompromising process commissioning local artisans and seamstresses around Capetown. The spirit of “Ubuntu” is the message.
For the Ubuntu Project, the Inoue Brothers changed their focus to hemp fabric. Hemp fabric is not only more durable while offering the same qualities as cotton – it is also close to 100% naturally grown. With hemp they found a fabric that could progress and expand their product line and at the same time act in accordance with their core values and beliefs.
The beading used so well throughout the the collection has great profound heritage with colour combinations, patterns and shapes. This heritage is much greater than our comprehension, however, the Inoue Brothers are determined to learn more about the culture of this magnificent continent and share it to their best capabilities. In an earlier interview with us, the brothers conceded that they have only just scratched the surface of what crafts and skills lie beneath. They will continue to work hard to ensure the dignity and empowerment of all people that sincerely need it. And as such plan to continue to work with this community and at the same time keep expanding our reach as far as they can – all in the true spirit of Ubuntu.
Subtlety, elegance, and innovation are the three defining features of Bruno Chaussignand Lunettes. His collection was born from the fusion of style and comfort. Each spectacle is hand made in France and is polished for three days to provide the finest quality finish. It is instantly apparent that Bruno Chaussignand takes great pride in the exceptionally high quality of materials and workmanship that goes into producing each individual frame. The moment I first put them on back in August last year I fell head over heels and invested in a pair. Now that I've seen a few additions to the offering, I might just add to my collection.
The Showroom Next Door embodies everything that I find exciting about menswear design in London; namely it's diversity and constant sense of sartorial evolution and revolution. As one season closes, I look forward to seeing what the Showroom will reveal in the next. If it grows much larger I'll easily spend the whole day there...if only I could move in.