London Collections: Men has just wrapped up its third season as the three-day long platform dedicated to men's brands that ranged from the street-approved KTZ to the triumphant and colorful homecoming of Burberry. The men's week has already made a huge splash by both attracting big international brands, and also providing opportunities for smaller streetwear labels that, once they get enough attention, will change the game.
As Savile Row houses wrapped up their presentations at the venerable Lord's Cricket Ground, and the models from the Astrid Andersen show cabbed off to their next show, he chairman of the entire endeavor, Dylan Jones, sat down with us courtesy of Visit Britain and Visit London to discuss why the project was founded, how it has found success, and what the future looks like for men's most dynamic fashion week.
Are you surprised by how quickly London Collections: Men has become an international platform? It's only been three seasons, but what is the response that it's had from brands and editors both domestic and international?
We are very surprised with the speed that people have embraced it. We've always said that it's only going to work if people want it to work. But it really shows that there is a. an appetite for it, b. that people are really beginning to think of London as a home of menswear, and c. that it is a proper viable alternative to showing in Milan or Paris.
One thing about LC:M that stands out is how many really undiscovered and young designers there are, like Astrid Anderson, Craig Green, etc. In New York Fashion Week, it's super difficult to get a platform to display young, smaller designers. Could you speak on why you choose to support these very progressive, fashion-forward designers that maybe wouldn't get a space in Paris, Milan, or New York?
I think it's the other way around. We exist because they exist. It's a cliche, but there's such a wealth of young creativity here, and what the British Fashion Council tries to do is to give those young designers a platform. It is very difficult, and we all know that whatever industry you're in, the first rung of the ladder is almost the most difficult one. Hopefully, this helps them. I think the other important thing to say is that 30 years ago, a lot of designers who were in this same position were probably not as business savvy as they are now. But you speak to all these young designers, and they all completely get business, they all understand the mechanics of making it in the industry, they just need a helping hand.
Besides giving them the space and their own week where they're not overshadowed by womenswear or bigger houses, what resources do you provide?
We try and provide sponsorship where it's available and necessary, and offering them mentoring, offering them show space, and trying to treat them as well as we treat the big international brands.
What is it about the fact that when you're in New York, Paris, or anywhere, you find out that all these designers, photographers, and creatives all trained or from London and the incredible creative spirit that comes from these people who are now around the world?
Well I certainly think that London is culturally the most exciting city at the moment. Bringing it back to menswear, not only do you have an enormous heritage, with Savile Row, we invented tailoring, we own that. We also have the most amazing young designers in the world. Look at the reception that Agi & Sam got yesterday. They got a standing ovation, which very rarely happens. You look at Sibling, you have all these incredible ingenuity, there's so much creativity, it's brilliant. So you have those two elements, plus you have the fact that we ought to be and are beginning to be an international platform. And there's absolutely no reason why, if you're an international designer, you shouldn't be showing in London as opposed to showing somewhere else. We've had Dolce & Gabbana, we've had Tommy Hilfiger, we've had Calvin Klein, and there's absolutely no reason why those brands can't make London their home.
What would you say to someone who says well surely Milan is the global capital of menswear?
I think Milan is obviously historically an important base for design. They've had a fantastically successful trade fair for quite some time, as does Paris, as does Florence. We're just trying to offer something new.
So obviously it's fantastic how much press has been generated by LC:M, but in terms business, can you talk about the buyers and how important that is to the economy? I know the returns on the first season was quite outstanding...
Well it's a business story, and what we're trying to do is draw attention to the enormous wealth of talent here. But, it's coincided with the fact that menswear is in its ascendancy. You speak to most people in our industry, and you hear that womenswear has had a tough time in the past few years of the economic restraints. Menswear has continued to grow. It's had a pretty small base, but you speak to pretty much anyone who's involved in LC:M and they say that business is growing.
You touched on a lot of big fashion brands don't tend to stay in London. Burberry's coming back, which is awesome, but how do you feel about those big brands that make it, and then they decide to show in Paris?
Well hopefully we're offering an alternative. And the reason a lot of those brands showed with us first is because there wasn't an opportunity in London, and now there is an opportunity. Some of those brands are moving back, and it's great. Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Paul Smith is showing here, it's really exciting. But they wouldn't show here unless they had a platform.
Do you prefer fueling and injecting resources to small British brands, or international, or it doesn't matter?
We would love to have more international brands showing here regardless of what size they are. In terms of the big brands, it's fabulous that Burberry has come back. It's great that Rag & Bone is showing here, but all the brands are as important as each other.
So LCM has obviously found initial success and has made its big splash. What's next for LCM? What's the next step or the next projection?
To keep going. In all seriousness, we've been overwhelmed by the amount of enthusiasm for the project. But we need to keep growing it, and we need to keep making it an attractive proposition for international designers and try to reinforce the fact that there's so many great reasons to come to London for four days. There's 70 events over three days and a bit, and we just want to keep making London an exciting place to come.