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AW18: London Fashion Week Men's

London - London Fashion Week Men's officially opened on Saturday, showcasing the autumn winter 2018 collections from a schedule packed with emerging designers but absent from big-ticket names. Now in its 11th season, LFWM will run until Monday, after which the focus will shift to Florence for Pitti Uomo, followed by the Milan collections on Friday.

On the London catwalks the average fashion follower may not yet be familiar with designers Edward Crutchley, John Lawrence Sullivan or or Liam Hodges, but these were three of the leading shows on its inaugural day. Sunday saw stellar collections from Lou Dalton, now nearly a veteran amongst her on-schedule peers, Phoebe English at the Newgen MAN pop-up, sportswear designer Astrid Andersen and Christopher Raeburn, arguably the star of London Fashion Week.

One of the most anticipated collections of the weekend was that of singer Tinie Tempah, a front row regular, who's label What We Wear debuted last year. Influenced by utilitarian sportswear, this was an athleisure collection at heart, with luxe tracksuits as its central theme, shown in a minimal colour palette of navy, white, black and grey, and a dash of safety orange for good measure.

Designing what people want to wear

“When you go to the fashion shows, a lot of the models walking down the catwalk are wearing these extravagant pieces,” Tempah told GQ, a sponsor of London Fashion Week Men. “But I’ll see the model in Shoreditch two weeks later and they’ll be wearing something more like this. So I decided, ‘Why don’t we actually make something we would actually wear?"

There was less gender fluidity and more emphasis on masculine clothing this weekend. None so as apparent at Oliver Spencer, a stalwart of British menswear and now in its second decade, which showed oversized corduroy, velvet suiting and plenty of tailoring to offset the rest of LFWM with accessibly wearable and delectable clothes.

The highlight show of the weekend was Ben Sherman, who's Northern Soul dancers lit up the catwalk to the funkiest soundtrack heard so far. Dancers boogied, twisted and pirouetted, warming up the catwalk before the first exit. On show were short Harrington jackets, striped track pants, fishtail parkas and Mod suits. Designer Henry Holland collaborated with the brand on a capsule collection, stating backstage: “I love twisting iconic English brands. Which is what Ben Sherman will always be."

Photo credit: Alberto Pezzalo / NurPhoto / AFP