The father-son duo of Joe and Charlie Casely-Hayford have been quietly revolutionising menswear since their brand launched in 2009, trussing traditional pieces up in futuristic fabrics and novel silhouettes. Last time down the runway it translated as nylon and neoprene bikers, knee-length bomber jackets and a shawl-collared double-breasted suit that looked like the love child of a 1930s tuxedo and a kimono, if it had been brought up by Yeezy.
What the pair create eventually trickles into the everyday – their loose, unstructured tailoring has all but replaced skinny suits – so the show is an opportunity to get to jump on cresting trends. Our prediction? Longline tailoring and non-traditional fabrics, mixed with straight-from-the-basketball-court sportswear.
The fashion industry’s new golden child, Grace Wales Bonner racked up column inches with her debut SS15 show, which took black critical theory and distilled it into clothes that were once boundary-breaking and oozed history. Since then, the Central St Martins graduate has been responsible for some of LC:M’s most jaw-dropping moments, which have explored the intersection between African history and European ideals of fashion and luxury.
Wales Bonner’s designs have become increasingly wearable as the brand’s profile has grown – last season was rich in oversized summer suiting, in contrast to her debut’s pink mohair and Bowie-rivalling flares – but her style is still unique enough to prevent fast fashion brands ripping it off.
Wales Bonner is proof fashion can marry aesthetics and theory, without detriment to either.
Baartmans And Siegel
The Dutch-English duo of Wouter Baartmans and Amber Siegel cut their teeth at Viktor and Rolf, before launching their eponymous label in 2010. Over half a decade, the brand’s shown a penchant for experimentation, be that in silhouette or fabric, subverting menswear traditions without forgetting that their clothes need to be wearable enough to eventually end up on someone’s back.
Last season’s collection, themed around desolation, was infused with a post-apocalyptic aesthetic heavy on ripped denim and utilitarian outerwear (the duo’s patch-pocketed blazer would be ideal for stashing ammo and supplies when civilisation is in meltdown). But this season’s invite is overlaid with map of Harlem nightclubs produced in 1932, so we’re expecting something freer but with that same undercurrent of violence – the borough was ripped apart by riots only three years later.
However that reference materialises, you can bet that it will slot readily into your AW16 wardrobe.
After reducing his audience to tears with his SS15 show – dedicated to the late Louise Wilson, his tutor at Central St Martins – Green came in for some flack last season for recycling old ideas. Of course, the balance between brand identity and lack of innovation is tricky to navigate when your designs are as far out as Green’s. No one complains when Paul Smith sends down suits every season, but when you’re the only designer showcasing peephole ninja gear, your last show is the only point of comparison.
Though his bubble’s far from burst – Green’s show remains one of LC:M’s hottest tickets – it feels like this season could be his make or break, where he either lives up to his billing as British menswear’s most exciting designer, or those accusations he’s a one-trick-pony start to cement.
We expect his signature holes – our invitation features a telling punch-out – but our money’s on him unleashing something very exciting indeed.
Is it possible for an eight-year-old brand to be an institution? If it treads that tricky line between consistency and innovation, then arguably so. Splitting his time between his eponymous brand and role as creative director at Victorinox, Christopher Raeburn brings to both a deep understanding of clothes as functional objects.
To slip into one of his heavy duty parkas, or the robust anoraks he sent down his SS16 runway, is to create a very distinct delineation between in here, and out there. It’s outerwear so protective you sense it might need planning permission.
But Raeburn is also a student of fashion history, particularly its military roots, which anchors even those designs that experiment, that push against expectations, and prevents them descending into anarchy. It’s an approach that’s especially apparent in his Remade pieces, which are fashioned entirely from recycled fabric – to date that’s included military parachutes and, for AW15, life rafts, resurrected as bomber jackets and backpacks.
As well as the new raw material, keep an eye out for his latest animal mascot – one accompanies each season – which will follow the sharks, gorillas, owls, foxes and rabbits of previous collections. Quite a menagerie.
5 Designers To Look Out For At LC:M AW16
As the fashion folk descend on London for menswear’s biannual hoo-hah, we preview the designers worth keeping an eye on this season