Over the past few menswear seasons there’s been relatively little attention paid, for the most part, to the seasons themselves. That’s not to say that there haven’t been coats and sweaters on show every winter, and shorts every summer – but that there’s a kind of standardisation in how we live now, and in the way we think about clothing, which has blurred the distinction between fashion’s traditional extremes. And yet, here in the UK, a single day’s sunshine can still send us running for the nearest ice-cream van. And Love Island, one of the most popular fixtures of British TV’s summer season, largely dispenses with clothing entirely; its cast of sun-kissed, buff-bodied participants inhabit a world where shirt buttons are entirely superfluous, and shorts rarely venture lower than the thigh.
Backstage at the JordanLuca Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
Some of the washboard-stomached models in JordanLuca’s debut runway show yesterday morning looked like they’d slot pretty smoothly into that reality show’s lineup – although Jordan Bowen and Luca Marchetto’s take on summer vibes, 2020 style, came with an altogether darker edge. The chaos and muddy abandon of festival-going (another British summer staple) influenced ripcord parkas, shirts swarming with rats, and patch-patterned separates. Torso-flashing vests and slashed track pants, meanwhile, provided a sexed-up counterpoint to the duo’s slouchy tracksuits and billowing, lightweight outerwear.
Band of Outsiders Spring/Summer 2020 menswear presentation in London. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.
Round the corner in the BFC’s main show space – vast, white-washed, sunlit – Patrick Grant’s latest E. Tautz collection offered the audience a far more straightforward spin on the season. Loose, light, breezy separates came in a palette of coral, pumpkin, and duck-egg blue, splashed with retro wallpaper florals or split into sleek geometric grids. And if the silhouettes hadn’t said it clearly enough – soft windowpane checks, roomy crossover shirts, supersized tailoring and lightweight two-pieces – then the soundtrack (Seventies funk/dance staples like ‘Native New Yorker’ and ‘California Soul’) rooted Grant’s aesthetic firmly in time and place. And in yet another wing of the Truman Brewery’s rambling complex, Band of Outsiders targeted a different decade’s summer staple, collaborating with artist Amit Greenberg to celebrate the All-American pool party. Greenberg’s playful, oversized prints came splashed across crisply tailored blazers, shirts and knee-length shorts, alternating with floral repeats and bold colour blocks of navy, primrose, watermelon, and sand.
John Lawrence Sullivan Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
But darkness falls, even in summer. And so, John Lawrence Sullivan designer Arashi Yanagawa dragged his audience into a laser-lit nightclub in the middle of a blisteringly sunny afternoon. As ever, there was plenty of punk attitude on show – laced-up leather and chunky chains, swaggering boots and rock-god hair, and a palette that rarely strayed lighter than blackberry and forest green. But there was also a sense of Yanagawa’s aesthetic softening – from trench coats and biker jackets slashed down the seams to ombré-print shorts, and from mesh layers to t-shirts and loose shirts stamped with nature prints by L.A. photographer Coley Brown.
Iceberg Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photos by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.
There were flashes of that same punk swagger in James Long’s latest outing for Iceberg – for the past few seasons, one of the highlights of London’s stripped-back schedule. But Long’s take on punk was of a far poppier, more playful kind, and it came blended with his usual helter-skelter mix of influences; Looney Tunes characters, washed-out denim, logomania, patchwork print, Eighties performance garb, Peter Blake motifs. But amid all the noise, it was the simplest statements that cut through – a sequence of sleek tailoring and languid athleticwear in head-to-toe sherbet shades of yellow, pink, and blue.
Qasimi Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.
By contrast, the richest shade on offer at Khalid Al Qasimi’s show came from the several tonnes of coffee grounds laid between abandoned railway tracks in the old Bishopsgate goods yard; a deep, rich brown that threw the crisp whites and delicate pastels of the designer’s clothing into sharp relief. On a subtle level, there was plenty to read into each look – soft sensuality, military discipline, hints of utilitarian bluntness. But, it was Qasimi’s materiality that linked the collection with the rest of the day’s shows – the same ripcord nylons and meshes and fluid layers that we’d seen over and over again. And there was something refreshing, in these complicated times, about seeing London’s menswear shift so decidedly towards lightening up.