Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Style Salvage Speaks to... Showroom Next Door

You might recall that I eased myself in to AW10 proceedings with a visit to Showroom Next Door at 16 Hanover Square at the beginning of London Fashion Week. The Touba Distribution curated showroom allowed me the opportunity to inspect and fantasise over a few of my favourite brands while introducing me to a few new ones. I spent the best part of two hours fully immersing myself in the new collections of Mr. Hare, Casely-Hayford, H by Harris and Bruno Chaussingnand before being acquainted with Japanese denim specialist Sable Clutch and amazing knitwear by The Inoue Brothers. The idea was to create a Wardrobe of Menswear and they undoubtedly excelled. The space became my dream walk in wardrobe the moment I stepped inside. More than that though, it was a space that exemplified everything that I find exciting about menswear design in London; namely it's diversity and constant sense of sartorial evolution and revolution. I had meant to only post once on the showroom but as I spent so much time with each of the brands it was only proper to showcase each of the brands individually. After this series of excited ramblings that saw me waxing lyrical about a selection of real AW10 highlights I wanted to take stock and learn more about the Showroom Next Door and the people behind it. Here I catch up with Touba Distributions very own Fode Sylla to learn about the reasons behind the Showroom and how he would like to see it evolve over the coming seasons...

The Showroom Next Door for AW10.

SS: What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind Showroom Next Door?
Fode: We were aware of this surge in London emerging that wasn't receiving the credit and exposure it deserved. When the menswear day took place in London Fashion Week. We decided to utilise the Showroom Next Door as the showroom that represented the quality of menswear that was emerging from London. Our aim is to become the representation for menswear in London. I have always been surprised by the amount of talent in the UK and have always considered it as the quintessential home of Menswear. Yet there didn't seem to be many opportunities to see the work of established and exciting the new designers this city has to offer.

Casely-Hayford: A wool biker jacket takes pride of place in the presentation. It can either be worn long or short depending on the fancy of the wearer.

SS: What does Showroom Next Door mean to you?
Fode: We wanted the Showroom Next Door to be an interesting and vibrant place where fashion, art and craftsmanship can be appreciated side by side.

Casely-Hayford's accessories.

SS: As you know, I spent the best part of two hours fully immersing myself in some of my favourite brands while discovering a few new ones. The Showroom was extremely well curated, how did you go about selecting and approaching the brands?
Fode Sylla: We are interested in brands that although UK/London based have an international capacity and a unique handwriting. The idea was to create an exciting Wardrobe of Menswear. After working many years in various areas of the industry, we know when we fall in love with something. It is instinctive and inevitably it leads to us falling a friendship and a tremendous liking for the designers and the ethos behind their creativity. This has been the case for all the participants the Showroom Next Door have been honoured to work with. It felt like home.

H by Harris' luxurious luggage and accessories on display.

SS: What makes London Menswear design so special for you/ What are your thoughts on menswear design in the capital?
Fode Sylla: It's fresh and original not homogenised. I have always love the idea of the English male's wardrobe, particularly the hand made suit, hand made shirt, hand made shoes and the craftsmanship behind them etc...Of course this is only one facet though.

The Inoue Brothers' knitwear mixes Japanese sensibility with Danish simplicity by way of Bolivian craftsmanship.

SS: The growth and increased influence of Menswear Day in recent seasons has given menswear a huge boost but there is so much more that could be done. I honestly feel that initiatives like the Showroom Next Door can help drive menswear forward both here in London and beyond. The set up of the showroom allows a far greater appreciation to the craft of the collections than any runway show could and displays designs alongside like minded labels. Is this an important facet of the project?
Fode: You have absolutely hit the nail on the head. in the course of approximatively a week in which the Showroom took place ,we have enjoyed very much being able to explore each collection even further, understand the designers inspiration by talking to them in depth,see the reaction of both the Press and the Buyers. Menswear Day is of a great influence in promoting Menswear and in attracting an increasing number of Press and Buyers in the capital. The aim of the Showroom Next Door is to go some way to reinforce that Britain is the home of Menswear by the diversity of its offering.

I love the reflective lenses in these beautiful frames from Bruno Chaussignand.

SS: What has the reaction been like to the latest Showroom and labels involved?
Fode Sylla: There's been a very positive and encouraging response from both Press and Buyers. We look forward to extending the range of the Showroom in the near future here in London and beyond whilst keeping it organic and diverse.

Mr. Hare aims to give us all a boost for AW10.

SS: Are there any designers who you'd love to add for next season?
Fode Sylla: Mr (Roland Mouret menswear), Kim Jones, Hannah Martin (Jewellery) and some exciting emerging designers. God, the list is endless. The city is full of talent to choose from and that makes a very exciting project to curate the Showroom. We will also like to give a free platform for new talent by choosing an unknown but talented designer each season to showcase their work among established designers in the near future.

Mr. Hare's shoes proudly sitting on the shelves inside Showroom Next Door.

SS: How would you like to see the project develop over the next few seasons?
Fode: Showcasing the London collective around the world. Work officially alongside British fashion council so we can support a selection of emerging UK designers internationally with their sales. Make the Showroom Next Door an exciting, diverse and unique place for the city whilst keeping it fresh and organic there is still a lot of work to be done but we will keep at it.

A close up of the leather wrist protectors from Casely-Hayford.
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. For me this is more than a showroom, it signifies a continuation of a movement...first up London and then the world


joy said...

That you for insight to a new showroom. Mr. hare needs to make a women's line or at least have a shoe sale.


Jane said...

This goes pretty, pretty close to my idea of the perfect man wardrobe.

BeStylish said...

I tend to agree with Jane...especially those suits in the first picture...and combined with those paire of shoes(that appear in the 8th picture in the right)will make any man look awsome

Matthew Spade said...

wish we had more shops like this up north, not going to happen though is it. did you visit oi polloi?

Lisa said...

love the cool sunglasses!


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