The pioneering project by Topman and Fashion East continues to be fertile grounds for the most promising talent in menswear. Over the years it has become the safe zone for emerging designers to present a collection that is pure in concept, free from the shackles of commerce. The result of this is often a highly directional show that makes waves well beyond the domains of this very “safe zone”. This season’s designers Nicomede Talavera, Liam Hodges and Bobby Abley, took on the mandate of impressing the audience at London Collections: Men, and they did not disappoint.
With plenty of press coverage since his debut at Fashion East, a successful collaboration with Eastpak bagpack and accounts with one of the most coveted London stockists LN-CC, Nicomede Talavera is one rising star. This season marks his first runway show which saw a continuation of his 80’s sportswear inspired static presentation last season. With a style that is commonly described as “J.W. Anderson meets streetwear” his SS15 collection showcased avant-garde patchwork a la Cubist artist Sol Lewitt, high-contrast textures and boyish ease. Noteworthy statements included a ribbed fabric pillow clutch and kilts made of gingham checks of contrasting scale. While his style remained articulate, this season’s fabrication lacked the gravity shown at AW14.
Liam Hodges show took precisely after his manifesto: “a new luxury brand that doesn’t just cater to high borns. It is for men who live for the week, not just the weekend.” Hodges’ democratic ethos was keenly felt today as he sent everyday men-on-the-street down the runway in raw workwear denim, safari caftans, and tribal emblems – all armed with predatory flag-bearing aggression. Staple silhouettes included Hodges’ oversized baseball tees and cropped jumpers. A key accessory was the Scouts hat with industrial edge on the brim. It was very DIY in spirit, of men taking matters into their own hands. Perhaps the music in the background summed up the high adrenaline show best declaring, “You are not cattle you are men”.
Truly, they they did save the best for last. Bobby Abley who made headlines with Mickey ears and silver metal braces continued his Disney obsession into Spring Summer 15. The overarching mood was of skaters under the sea. Models walked down the runway in clothes laced with tongue-in-cheek references from The Little Mermaid whilst wielding bespoke skateboards in hand. The cutout skateboards included one that spelled “Bobby Abley” and another that featured Sebastian the Jamaican crab. The under the sea exploration also saw a lilac neoprene co-ord number which had Ursula’s face plastered across the chest. This was a viral collection with the best piece from the MAN SS15 catwalk: an iridescent purple pompom fringe two-piece number that rippled blithely down the runway.