Highlights from London Collections: Men

London- Although London has a long history of creating what can only be described as unique menswear trends - think back to the 18th century dandy, to the bowler-hatted civil servant of the mid 1800s, to the pinstriped stockbroker of the 1950s, to the 70s safety-pinned punk in bondage trousers - the notion that men can and should pay close attention to personal appearance is still relatively new but is on the boom. As the menswear market in the UK continues to grow at a faster rate than its female counterpart, the biannual men’s fashion week London Collections: Men was buzzing this season, with a mixture of young, fresh talent and older, more established brands taking to the catwalks and showrooms to present their vision for Spring/Summer '16.

Highlights from London Collections: Men

During the opening reception for the seventh edition of LC:M, Dylan Jones, Chair of London Collections: Men and editor of British GQ noted: "As the world grows more interconnected, London’s relevance as the epicentre of menswear design grows stronger. Fashion design - a great celebration of creative freedom – is a global language, and it’s here in London that the designers are so varying and diverse that they speak to the whole world." His words held truth throughout the extended four day schedule, which saw two main design ethos emerge that are said to be reflective of the change going on within UK menswear market. One being developed among the new generation of designers, who offer a culmination of streetwear, sportswear meets suiting and the other the century-old traditional gentlemen suitors, with traditionals suits and boots and a hint of a contemporary twist.

"Here in London the designers are so varying and diverse that they speak to the whole world."

But one designer who was sure to stand out amongst the crowd during LC:M and whose designs have earned him something close to cult following, is Craig Green. Although he is still relatively young on the catwalk circuit, his unique designs portray his personal style aesthetics and ideals. Some may have been confused by his large sheets of fabric which covered the models behind, save for a hole made in the torso, or his fine-knits with elongated “nipples” of fabric billowing around, but they reflect Green’s intention of concealing and wrapping the human form in fabric, whilst revealing certain areas of flesh.

His signature shapes, such as the square-cut padded jacket and wide-legged trousers, reminiscent of a martial arts uniforms were presented in bright shades of yellow, green and orange, next to shrunken sweaters and cropped pants. With more designers leaning towards wider pant legs during LC:M, it seems as if the heyday of skinny jeans for men may be drawing to an end as well. Topman Design, who was given the honour of opening the men’s fashion week on Friday once more, presented a number of high-waisted flare pants and baggy suit trousers, as well as bomber jackets and short shorts in a throw-back to the 60s and 70s collection named Bombay City Rollers. Aimed to appeal to its audience of 16-25 year old men, the collection tapped into the mixing pot of British youth culture references, including Northern Soul dance.

Highlights from London Collections: Men

A first for LC:M was the presentation of Coach’s foray into men’s fashion, which featured androgynous prints, skate-inspired outfits mixed with loud prints. Creative director Stuart Vevers revealed to the Guardian that he wanted to do “pieces, you know, but I’m trying to do something different with them so they could only come from Coach.” This resulted in chunky sliders with bright acid prints, parkas with faux fur lining and boxy shirts with psychedelic prints. He added that he wanted to shake up the “old money Kennedy thing, with counter culture,” referencing Sixties surf culture, classic Americana and Nineties hip hop as points of inspiration.

Another first witnessed during LC:M was the debut of Henry Holland’s menswear collection for his eponymous label House of Holland. The British designer, who launched the collection simultaneously with the presentation on Sunday, in select stores including Selfridges, Opening Ceremony and Galeries Lafayette, imagined the collection as “building [a] wardrobe” for men. Holland tapped into his roots for inspiration, as well as “ street culture tribes — like rave, casuals and terrace culture,” which resulted in a range of sporty, yet minimalistic designs, like football shirts with slogans such as ‘Lad’, that translate the designers feeling for fun in fashion.

Highlights from London Collections: Men

Revisioning fashion for Spanish label Loewe, plus investment from LVMH, appears to have help designer Jonathan Anderson hone his own vision for his eponymous label JW Anderson, which presented a new softer look during LC:M. Known for his quirky subversions and androgynist tendencies, the designer presented a more rounded and gentler look, with an easy wearable appeal that some of his previous looks lacked. Silhouettes were loose and soft, ranging from cropped trousers to wide knits and polo neck shirts. His ideas for the show appeared to be as different as the collection shown on the catwalk.

Anderson told the Guardian his SS16 collection stemmed from his desire to “slow the tempo down, and reduce fashion to things like calico,” which is the type of material used to clothing prototypes. His use of high-end materials, including raw denim, hand-knitted cotton and soft leather for the collection hint his move into the luxury-end of the fashion spectrum. However he also referenced to a “boy in space with his naive take on doing his own thing,” mentioning both a youth’s bedroom and a shed full of trinkets as his inspiration as well. “You arrange them to something that means something to you, adding value to something that has no value,” he said.

Highlights from London Collections: Men

Patrick Grant, creative director at Savile Row tailoring brand E.Tautz, sought to defy the traditional conventions of Savile Row by showing wide legged jeans and hooded anoraks in neutral tones with pop of lime green and aqua blue accents. The traditional two and three piece suits were absent from the catwalk and replaced by tailored shorts, boxy-shirt and front-seam trousers. Finding inspiration in modernism, London’s Skylon tower, the 1950s and tensegrity, the designer hoped to reflect the hopeful atmosphere emerging during the post-war era. "It's the story of a country determined to shrug off the drudgery of austerity and look forward" he wrote in his collection notes, which is fitting for the century old tailor looking forward to connecting to the future.

Highlights from London Collections: Men

One of the most secretive highlights from LC:M had to be Tom Ford’s impromptu ‘catwalk’ show on Sunday. Although the designer was scheduled to present his collection Monday, curing a cocktail evening held at his store on Sloane Street, Ford decided to hold a walking presentation for the first time in eleven years. His collection included sharply tailored suits, printed silk evening jackets for evening and leather jackets paired striped sweaters and shirts and slim denim jackets paired with macs in a throwback to the 60s look for daywear. “It’s very Warhol’s Factory 1963. Like, a lot,” said the designer on his collection to the Financial Time. Other references included the Thomas Crown Affair and Steve McQueen mixed with Paul Newman.

Highlights from London Collections: Men

“You have to be careful,” he added. “You have to stick to your identity. Men come to us for suits and tailoring. We didn't want people to forget that.”

Images: London Collections:Men - British Fashion Council