It is September in South Kensington, and that means one thing for the fashion-creatives of London; London Fashion Week. From the 15th to the 20th of September, London’s creative fashion centre switches to a white construction outside the Natural History Museum. Hopeful designers exhibit their clothing and press and buyers from around the UK and around the world scrutinise the offerings for a period of just six days. For the fashion elite of London, this is the event of the autumn, providing a glimpse at the future. But does it really offer anything for the stylish man-about-town?
Truthfully, LFW is biased towards the female market. Most of the Exhibition in the forecourt of the Natural History Museum is dedicated to ready to wear, jewellery and accessories collections for women only. Shoes are interesting, in abundance but are all for women. Nearly every thread on show for buyers and press to peruse is for feminine use. The men’s clothing is hard to find; a couple of shirts here, a jacket there. For the masculine style aficionado and consumer, there is little to recommend.
Feeling disappointed, I turned my attention from the clothing to the fashion crowd; and found it much more interesting. I pictured these men outside the BFC (British Fashion Council) tents. Choosing men of style rather than of fashion, I came to realise that stylish men don’t need exhibitions, editorial approvals in magazines or applause on the runway to choose clothing. It’s easy to recognise style.
Most of the men passing through the tents were dressed conservatively. The preferred looks usually involved rather short jackets and blazers with slim-fitting denim or trousers; brown shoes were much preferred to sport shoes, and splashes of bright colour were rare. Popular palettes were browns, greens, greys and blues. There was also a surprising number of patent shoes worn, and purple was a popular colour for certain accessories.
Two of the men I photographed were carrying bags. The ‘man bag’ seemed to be the absolute must-have accessory for men attending the exhibition and shows at the tents. I myself was carrying a rather modest dark blue piano bag (for the security pass, camera, brochures and exhibition floorplan) however most men favoured something larger. The elder gentleman carries a dark brown two handled bag, with leather trim, which seems to match his shoes extremely well, whereas the younger gentleman in the two-button putty jacket carries a retro bowling bag in bright berry red with vanilla trim, contrasting well with his dark blue denim.
These men were examples of how London fashion is not about a week, and it’s not just about the people seen through a lens. The people who live fashion and style were all around to see.