London Fashion Week goes digital: seven things we learned

Powered by article titled “London Fashion Week goes digital: seven things we learned” was written by Hannah Marriott, Morwenna Ferrier, Lauren Cochrane, Helen Seamons ,Peter Bevan and Priya Elan, for on Monday 15th June 2020 16.01 UTC

1. Fashion is the UK’s ‘golden egg’

A video conversation between the London mayor and editor-in-chief of British Vogue was a twofold affair, as they discussed George Floyd and systemic racism alongside Covid19 and its effect on the British fashion industry. But it was as candid and it was crucial – who suffers the most in a recession? What is the impact of pre-existing structural inequality in society? How do we prevent unemployment in the fashion sector? And why do we need to wear masks?

Edward Enninful and Sadiq Khan in conversation
Edward Enninful and Sadiq Khan in conversation Photograph: Youtube

With regards fashion, they talked about the need to promote the contribution made by the fashion industry during the pandemic, from the economy (one in six jobs British jobs are within the fashion industry, said Khan, it is “our golden egg”) and the people that work in “the pipelines” to the industry’s mass production of PPE and the future of creative graduates. As Khan said: “we don’t want creative talent leaving to go to countries that will better support them than ours.” MF

2. ‘See now, buy now’ makes sense

A look from Daniel Fletcher’s AW20 collection.
A look from Daniel Fletcher’s AW20 collection. Photograph: PR

With the new LFW digital platform open to the public using it to launch, a see now, buy now collection for autumn/winter 2020 makes consumer sense. Daniel W.Fletcher chose to promote his via his own website with 10% of all the proceeds being donated to charities supporting communities suffering as a result of Covid-19 and organisations fighting for racial equality and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Lockdown forced Fletcher to rethink his collection, resulting in a streamlined more sustainable 12 look edit that utilised the fabrics he already had in his London studio. He worked directly with a network of seamstresses he has employed on previously. “This collection is a testament to the skill and hard work of these amazing women: I dedicate this collection to them.” Less is most definitely more. HS

3. ‘Passing the mic’ outshines self-promotion

Before George Floyd’s murder, London-based designer Charles Jeffrey had planned to throw a virtual party during digital fashion week, promoting a capsule quarantine-produced collection in the process. Instead, he gave the platform to a handful of POC creatives, creating a digital ‘happening’ to raise money for UK Black Pride.

Its stars were MC Miss Jason of Jason’s Closet; dancer and choreographer Malik Nashad Sharpe; singer-songwriter Rachel Chinouriri; and spoken word poet Kai Isaiah Jamal. University of Westminster graduates Catherine Hudson and Halina Edwards designed clothes and spoke about their work in accompanying videos.

Spoken word poet Kai Isaiah Jamal
Spoken word poet Kai Isaiah Jamal Photograph: PR

Hudson said that her “Cool Rasta” collection was designed to distort “the male form to reflect internalized micro-aggressions”; Edwards explained that she was researching the Black Curriculum alongside her fashion work; “I’m just so passionate to share the wealth of education there is.” It was a powerful and exuberant half hour on the internet – and underlined the importance of ‘passing the mike,’ as Miss Jason described it, in creative professions, a development we very much hope outlasts the pandemic. HM

4. Collaboration is cool

An image from Bianca Saunders’ collaborative zine We Are One Of The Same.
An image from Bianca Saunders’ collaborative zine We Are One Of The Same. Photograph: Joshua Woods

Saturday morning’s three way zoom call between menswear designer Bianca Saunders, photographer Joshua Woods and model/writer Jess Cole to talk about their art/poetry/fashion collaboration provided food for the soul. Although at the top Saunders said that the work “didn’t have much to do with the current climate,” it was hard not to see their zine as a timely statement of lyrical black beauty and the energy that occurs when black creatives work together. “If we’re constantly seeing white narrative in front of us,” said Woods, “it becomes liberating to see narratives around black lives.”

Featuring male-female twin couples dressing in Saunders’ archive collections from Spring Summer 19 and Autumn Winter 19, the photos by Woods had a nostalgic and rich feeling about them. They highlighted the gendered dichotomy of Saunders clothes which combined a feminine softness with masculine lines and fabrics like leather and denim. “My work is based around finding the similarities between each other,” said Saunders.

The designer hinted that her next collection SS21 which she’s working on in lockdown would feature a sunny outlook. “I want to inject the idea that joy is really important,” she said. PE

5. The next generation can inspire change in fashion

reM’Ade collection by Marques Almeida
reM’Ade collection by Marques Almeida Photograph: Youtube

Marques Almeida – a brand set up in London by Portugese couple Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida in 2011 – have always been about community, with diverse street casting a big part of their MO. But it was the arrival of two daughters, Maria and Alice, that inspired reM’Ade, a new in-house brand to use the deadstock of various factories in Portugal – as this sweet video details. Available for pre-order only, see biker jackets made from prints, and striped frilled skirts, with each piece potentially unique. It is a way to think about a new way of working, and to, as Almeida says “start by tidying up the house, and work with what you have.” LC

6. Digital galleries work

In the same way Priya Ahluwalia weaves strands of her dual Indian and Nigerian heritage into her sustainable patchwork designs, her presentation for London Fashion Week, explores her roots and traces what it means to be a young, mixed heritage person living in London.

The presentation was shown alongside her second book, Jalebi, a digital 3D exhibition and photography book focused on a series of images taken by photographer Laurence Ellis,a loving portrayal of Southall in west London, Britain’s first Punjabi community. The images flit ‘back and forth between the imagined and real’, from shots of fanciful cars draped in beautiful patchwork blankets, to portraits of local individuals living their everyday lives.

A shot from Ahluwalia’s virtual exhibition.
A shot from Ahluwalia’s virtual exhibition. Photograph: PR

The designer also included images of her own family, who have been a great inspiration to her since she founded her eponymous brand, and places them alongside quotes from her ‘Nana’ which illustrate the family’s experience living between India and Britain. While the exhibition is a celebration of diversity and immigration, it does not shy away from the difficulties of living in an immigrant community, and includes photographs from the 2019 Memorial march in remembrance of Gurdip Singh Chaggar who was murdered by National Front racists in 1976. All profits from Jalebi, along with the photographic print sales, will be donated to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and to Southall Black Sisters. Available online for £35 at PB

7. Collections can be so good, you can show them twice

A screenshot from Nicholas Daley’s video show.
A screenshot from Nicholas Daley’s video show. Photograph: Nicholas – Fashion Show

Daley’s AW20 show, originally staged in January, was a highlight of LFWM. So it’s a pleasure to see a video of it, which focuses on both the clothes and the musicians – including drummer Kwake Bass – that Daley collaborated with on a site-specific composition. Daley is a big music fan and this collection has both Jimi Hendrix and the Art Ensemble of Chicago on the moodboard – along with the dreamy paintings of Guyanese artist, Frank Bowling.

The Abstract Truth perhaps brings the idea of afrofuturism to style. Or, as Daley says, it shows “everything has been interconnected and continues my own creative journey connecting fashion, music and culture.” LC

• This article was amended on 17 June 2020 to correct the spelling of Malik Nashad Sharpe’s name. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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