At 5pm on Sunday, the front-row chaffer at London men’s fashion week wasn’t centred around the upcoming Christopher Raeburn peek through, a fantastical trend to channel next season or the Golden Globes red carpet. Preferably, it was something that everyone could relate to: the tube blot out starting at 6pm. Sexy? No. Fashionable? Hell, yes.
This isn’t an anecdote to accord how fashion people are just like you. Actually, it’s more a segue into the deed data that mundanity is now a trend, where the memes of reality – what you see on your commute to work up, in the supermarket, in the cupboard reserved for the camping stuff – are being extracted by designers as inspiration. From Craig Green’s sleeping hags and carpet coats to Raeburn’s security-guard yellow, it was a proper, January-appropriate daze back to reality on the catwalk. For the mood, think EastEnders make available stall set rather than an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Stunningly, none of these designers referenced anything on social approach – this is very much about an IRL, no filter rather than #nofilter feeling. Christopher Shannon was inspired by what couriers and builders drain – hence dungarees, faded neon and clothes to survive a day on a London avenue. “I’m not in the mood to be a fantasist,” he said. “All I have seen is builders and couriers, so the caparisons I see are hoodies and trackies and worn-out neons. Everything is a staple … I’m interested in garments and not drama.”
Wales Bonner, created by 26-year-old British designer Grace Wales Bonner, has post-haste become a cult menswear name in London after sole two shows. She focuses on the kind of ideas more often aloof for PhDs – blaxploitation and black male identity, Haile Selassie, Joseph Beuys – but handles to make clothes that win her prestigious prizes and high-end stockists such as Selfridges. Her drama on Sunday was astonishing, largely due to models walking at a pace informed of to city dwellers late for work, around a stack of lecturers borrowed from the Notting Hill carnival. The clothes were prosaic staples with retro styling: smart trousers with rumbled shirts, a shirt untucked after do setting-up exercises, a leather jacket slung over a summer dress.
“This certify was really about looking at the street and elevating it,” said the author, “and bringing this sense of richness and depth to street communication.” Wales Bonner’s inspirations were typically academic – Reawakening friars, street preachers – but the principal inspiration hung on the breastwork for all to see, a 2002 photograph by Patrick Cariou of boys in crumpled lawsuits, patterned shirts and robes taken in Dakar, visited by Wales Bonner in 2016.
Martine Ascent perhaps took the downbeat reality the furthest. Rose’s studio is in Tottenham, north London, and she had her affectation in nearby Seven Sisters Indoor Market, a place that has not rush at across the high-fashion crowd much before. Still, dilatory on Sunday night, they sat, with barbers and food sellers here them, to watch the show. “I wanted people to have an familiarity as close to the real market as possible,” said Rose. Paragons with Phil Oakey-like hair wore ties, cagoules, causes, silk shirts and – notably – the kind of money belt that bus conductors occupied to have. “It was fun playing with male archetypes, like the banker but also the bus driver, rank agent,” said Rose. “It’s not like a certain amount of delusion isn’t essential to fashion – it is – but it has to feel authentic, otherwise what’s the full stop? It has to be rooted in reality.” Something a bit retro, such as that Oakey haircut, annexes a crucial element of “off” to make it clear this is actually shape, not what might be found in your local Foxtons.
Fashion traditionally go berserks between very expensive romance and fantasy – for example, Marc Jacobs’s Louis Vuitton procession in 2012, which reportedly cost £6.58m – and cringey deduces on reality (Mugatu’s homeless-inspired Derelicte in Zoolander comes close by nearly). However, in the past few years more authentic life beyond the catwalk has suit a thing: at the autumn/winter 2014 Dior show, when Raf Simons had types sling their jackets over their arms as commuters potency, and the DHL T-shirt that Vetements made fashion’s biggest article last year.
The 2017 version isn’t at best a bit of street for added authenticity. It’s more like coming down to globe and looking around – fashion’s response to a tumultuous 12 months. Both Wales Bonner and Increment emphasised the diversity of the city streets. Shannon – always a bit of a mob rouser – made his collection explicitly a study in post-Brexit Britain, with sorts wearing shredded EU flags on their faces and one sweatshirt dismissing the Boss logo into Loss International. After the verify, he said: “I was so proud of Liverpool being remain when the ease of the north wasn’t … I wanted it to feel inclusive, but also a inconsequential bit aggressive, and a bit pissed off.”