The New Heritage

There was a time when the London menswear shows lent heavily on the heritage of Savile Row to propel them into the spotlight and give them credibility. This was also at about the same time we laughably didn’t think men were too interested in clothes or fashion. But times have changed and now it’s not the Savile Row names one sees on the schedule to reinforce relevance, but the designers and labels that have steadily built up a name for themselves over the years. Cue Martine Rose and Craig Green, arguably two established and leading names on the calendar. What they don’t have in decade-old heritage, they have in ideas, creativity, and astute aesthetics.

Martine Rose Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Martine Rose’s is the kind of readily wearable and cool – she takes the best of retro and nostalgia as she did this season with the 1980s and shows us great style combinations. You see the collections; you want the collections. It’s the polo shirts and the denim jackets, this season especially the fleeces; it’s the workwear-meets-going-out of yesteryear and it tugs on the old fashion heart strings because she shows us something familiar, like watching a rerun but this time it’s better than you remember.

The designer set her Spring/Summer 2020 collection to the backdrop of a later 1980s London, a time she recalls as being open, where everyone was allowed to be who they were. That was her explicit invitation this weekend: Coexist. But the clever thing about her clothes is that, message or not, they’re compelling pieces because they’re real. Nostalgia, as she has played with these past couple of collections, is safe in her hands.

Martine Rose Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

In contrast to Martine Rose, you have Craig Green: conceptual, avant-garde, yet with an unwavering popularity because he knows how to dilute that down into something more accessible and human. Of late, this journey has become more apparent in his collections, categorised by section, of similar pieces or the same pieces but offered in various colour ways. It’s a neat move in enabling the eye to get used to his silhouettes and making sure that said pieces stay in the brain and don’t get lost among all the other collections.

Craig Green Spring/Summer 2020 menswear show in London. Photos by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

The first leather look today felt like he was doing an about-turn and heading towards overt Rick Owens territory which would have been interesting. For those who thought that might be daunting, the pace soon changed to those tried and trusted pieces, the quilted utility jackets and tech trousers; a beautiful series of pyjama suits paraded out in gorgeous bright colours, and then there came checked ponchos. Followed by the showstopper: paper lantern outfits in neon shades, laser-cut with doily-like motifs, something that was a recurring theme. It made for a warmer crafty feel and opened up his repertoire a little more – which is beneficial for a designer who, though has cleverly coined a look, has to be careful not to get backed into a corner.  

Arguably this is the new heritage, the streets of Savile Row replaced by those names that have worked hard on the runway. That is of course not to overlook Savile Row. One can’t. But in much the same way as couture operates in its own realm and on its own terms, so too does Savile Row. And that London Fashion Menswear Week can now stand on its own two feet without needing to lean on it makes for a very positive outlook indeed.