London launches its menswear fashion week, Brexit casts shadow
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Pedro Caiado
LONDON (Reuters) – London relaunched its menswear fashion week on Friday with a new name and quirky designs as the city seeks to hold on to its status as a creativity hub following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
In contrast to fashion capital rivals like Paris, Milan and New York, London showcases fewer big brands during men’s fashion week, giving room to emerging hot talents to present their creations.
“The point of difference in London is that you have a real wealth of young, creative talent matched with these established, heritage businesses,” Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council (BFC), told Reuters.
Among the first brands presenting on Friday was high street label Topman Design. It looked to the 1990s “pubbing and clubbing scene” for a collection of loose sweaters with logos, fringed tops, neon coloured jackets and wide-leg jeans. Models wore high-waisted trousers with check print jackets, sports shoes and a single dangly earring.
The event first launched in 2012 as three days of catwalk shows known as London Collections: Men, but rebranded this year as London Fashion Week Men’s running over four days.
Hanging over this year’s fashion shows are Britain’s looming divorce talks with the EU. A BFC survey ahead of the referendum in June revealed more than 90 percent of 290 designers wanted to remain in the bloc.
“We’ve got to abide by the results and make sure Brexit works for the fashion industry and for our country too,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who campaigned for Britain to remain a member of the EU, told Reuters at the launch.
“They want to make sure we can continue to attract talent.”
According to data quoted by the BFC, the men’s clothing market grew by 4.1 percent to 14.1 billion pounds ($17.36 billion) in Britain in 2015. Menswear accounted for 25 percent of the total clothing market.
Some brands such as Vivienne Westwood will present womenswear together with menswear at the event as a growing number of designers opt for mixed-gender catwalk shows.
However many, including British luxury label Burberry <BRBY.L>, are doing so during the higher-profile biannual women’s fashion weeks, raising questions over the future of separate menswear events.
“Certainly the men’s market is incredibly strong, the womenswear market is incredibly strong and as it stands at the moment there is a definite validity to having two very strong fashion weeks,” Rush said.
($1 = 0.8123 pounds)
(Reporting By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Pedro Caiado; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Richard Lough)