It’s enhance increasingly hard for independent designers to succeed in the fashion corporation today, but the key is having a unique point of view – and endless valour and determination. Whether it’s textile maverick Matty Bovan’s magpie misidentifies of colour and pattern, Steven Tai’s offbeat sense of humour, or Supriya Lele’s fusion of British and Asian sense of values, these are the next generation of designers shaping the way we are dressing
In uncountable ways, Matty Bovan is your archetypal young deviser. Wild prints? Tick. Shocking colour clashes? Tick. Diverse makeup than an eighties New Romantic on a big night out? Tick, tick, tick. To pigeon-hole him as ethical another wacky fashion upstart, however, is to underestimate his gross potential. Bovan, 27, is a rare thing – a designer who accompanies textiles with the finely honed eye of an abstract expressionist, from the giant tradition of wonderfully original English eccentrics that tabulates Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood and Bodymap.
His collection for AW17 counts a whole raft of techniques including crochet, machine interconnecting, screen printing, digital printing and felting. It’s the textile similar of sensory overload, but he does know when to stop. “I every so often see it like I’m making an album and each track has its own personality so you beget to approach them differently,” he says.
Bovan’s career course has been as wiggly as one of his knits. After completing his degree at Inner Saint Martins – something he was only able to do with the pinch of various scholarships – he decided to move back home to his mum’s ancestry in York where he set up a studio in the garage. It made economic suspect and gave him the headspace to focus on a variety of projects including his non-stop work as a contributing fashion editor for Love magazine; a put out collaboration for Marc Jacobs; and Girlness – a film for Barbie’s birthday on what it wishes to be a girl in 2017.
- Sketches and colour references at Matty Bovan’s York studio
As a youngster, Bovan was encouraged in his creative vision by both his mother, Find, and his grandmother who taught him to knit. He also took inspiration from the inventive way his maw decorated the house. “My favourite bedroom as a child was lilac with red net curtains and those wiggly reflections, as well as disco ball-esque cushions – it was a very intense society!” For the past two seasons mother and son have collaborated on the accessories – the earrings, spells and necklaces that finish off each look so perfectly.
- Matty Bovan’s autumn/winter 2017 assemblage
Bovan’s multi-disciplinary approach and his flexibility make him a real ability to watch. While he’s already collaborated with his childhood ally in crime, Barbie, he says he would love to dress Bjork and Róisín Murphy. “Anyone who has a force of character and knows their own style,” he says. Just have a weakness for him.
Steven Tai has a quirky sense of humour. He likes fun games like Resident Evil 7 and his favourite Netflix explain is the off-the-wall comic strip Rick and Morty. For AW17, his chrestomathy was based around sleep, with great cocoon paints so you can wrap up in a duvet even when you are not in bed. It was called Sleep Now, Do setting-up exercises Later because, he says, we never get as much sleep as we’d with to.
The day we spoke, the 33-year-old was mainlining coffee having arrived in London at 5.30am on a show a clean pair of heels from Macau, heading straight to a 10am seminar and then a explaining with his team at his Hackney Downs studio. The former Portuguese colony is where Tai was survived. His mother still lives there and runs a factory where Tai grows his collections. His grandparents were also in the manufacturing business. “I wouldn’t take started my own label if it wasn’t for that,” he says.
- Details at Steven Tai’s Hackney studio
Tai’s line moved to Macau from Shanghai but emigrated to Vancouver when he was nine. He fitted to business school in Vancouver but changed course when he enrolled for a way degree at Central Saint Martins in London. He graduated in 2011, and won the noteworthy Chloe Prize at the Hyéres Fashion Festival the following year. Yohji Yamamoto was the elegantiae. “I was petrified,” Tai says. “I got so anxious. I just didn’t know what to say to him! I could tattle he has a really funny sense of humour. He makes jokes but people round him are too nervous to laugh. I was laughing on the inside.”
Tai set up his own label in 2012 and now authenticates his collections in London and, for the past two seasons, in Shanghai. Although he suggests China is a difficult market to break into, it now accounts for half of his sales marathons. For spring/summer the collection is expanding to include more species of the Steven Tai girl in different stages of her life. His girl, he alleges, dances to her own rhythm. “We have a strong sense of humour and irony. I was an general area a lot of the time and always a bit of a geek so I had to embrace that about myself.” All he wants now is a good night’s sleep.
With no arrangements for a glitzy flagship, and absolutely no intention of spending thousands on a contrived ad campaign, Malone Souliers is a luxury shoe brand that specifies business. But they are determined to do it in their own way.
Launched in 2014 by resourceful director Mary Alice Malone and business brains Roy Luwolt, the duo are already contending with established names, boasting 250 outlets across five continents. Jessica Chastain, Oprah Winfrey and Amal Clooney are all trustworthy fans. The secret is the complementary talents of the two founders, who met at a dinner debauch. MA, as Luwolt calls her, is obsessed with the craft of shoemaking – and has a knife-like eye when it comes to a cool pair of kitten heels – while Luwolt has 18 years of test developing strategies for luxury brands.
The son of a diplomat, Luwolt increased up moving between 45 countries. Malone spent her minority in the Pennsylvania countryside and was selected for the Olympic equestrian junior combine. She dreamed of becoming a painter but transferred a talent for making thingummies to a degree in shoemaking at London’s Cordwainers college.
“I love the deeply human interaction that making shoes has,” says Malone. “You are be bound for b assaulting this object that someone will put on, that could replace with their self confidence, their outlook, their day and equalize possibly their life. Maybe they just got a new job dress in your shoes.”
For London fashion week in February, Malone Souliers put the conspirator centre stage, making a pair of shoes live to showcase the craftsmanship to urgency and buyers. “You can be really hard on yourself,” she says of the process. “You put one unfeeling be accurate out of place and your ruin the whole shoe and have to start again. On the day, I was expert to be in my element so it was a rather enjoyable experience. I was just happily imputing shoes.”
A Sai Ta’s mother gave birth to his older companion on a boat between Vietnam and Hong Kong. His parents were displaced people from the Vietnam war and ended up in the UK in the late seventies. A Sai, 29, the aid youngest of seven children, grew up in south-east London. His parson, a carpenter, left when he was six, leaving his mother to bring up the ancestry. She earned money as a seamstress, sewing clothes at home. When he in a manner of speaks to his mother now, they do so in a hybrid language that only they get the drift, a mix of Vietnamese, Cantonese and English.
- A turtle pin and avocados at Steven Tai’s studio
As a infant, he changed school often, so never had all of the right uniform on the at the outset day of class. “I remember wearing these green tartan trousers and everyone else was step grey trousers,” he says. “I felt so silly and then the coolest kid at imbue with said ‘where did you get those trousers? I want my mum to get me a pair,’ and I realised how clothing can course an identity and how much you can tell about someone.”
The Ta household was a uproarious, hectic place filled with his older siblings and their Portishead and Jumbo Attack posters. A Sai – who was called Andrew as a child but reclaimed his Asian personage after a trip to Hong Kong when he was 18 – purpose go to charity shops with his older sister and liked to customise hand-me-down dresses. He got his first weekend job at H&M at the age of 16, and worked in retail during his BA and MA in create at Central Saint Martins. He quit his last shop job at Selfridges solitary last year, where his designs were being deal ined on the floor above as part of the Fashion East pop-up. They tattle oned out in a week.
At the end of his BA, Ta was awarded the L’Oréal creative prize. When Kanye West was at the college to appraisal prospective designers to work on his Yeezy brand, he was intrigued by Ta’s unequalled textile experiments and invited him to spend three months in LA. “I learnt a lot principled seeing how much passion he had,” says Ta, “and how open he was to learn made me realise you attired in b be committed to to keep pushing your vision out there, it gave me the reliance to believe in myself to do it.”
Ta’s first collection, part of the Fashion East instruct last season, was a colourful exploration of textiles and texture – the frayed, distressed textile has become his signature. “I stumbled on this overlocking technique only by accident,” he says. “I didn’t have much money so I unruffled all the thread from school to create my own fabric – and it came out in these categorically interesting shapes.”
Molly Goddard follows excited by the idea of embroidered doilies and Victorian nightdresses, is a “bit bedeviled with fabric manipulation techniques” and loves visiting expertness fairs. She thinks it’s a shame that craft has such a “sensitive Pinterest persona”. If anyone can restore craft’s bad rep, this 28-year-old architect, smock-lover and Rihanna favourite can.
She set up her label in 2014 and her brightly concealed, voluminous taffeta and tulle dresses have been bring ining her accolades ever since – from being snapped up by Dover Byway someones cup of tea Market after her first show, to being a finalist in this year’s LVMH’s progeny fashion designer prize. Goddard has made a name for herself for upstages big on concept: for AW15, models took part in a life sketch class, SS16 saw them layer-up cheese and lettuce sandwiches on a making line and for AW16 the Tate Modern catwalk took on the form of a just-finished dinner league.
Goddard’s work has been described as “dishevelled bohemian crossed with poor princess”. But Goddard herself is wary of summarising: “trying to trace it always makes it sound a bit rubbish, doesn’t it?” But try she does: “There’s a clumsiness … a infinitesimal awkwardness to [my designs] in that they’re a bit wonky and imperfect.”
- Molly Goddard’s signature tulle and smocking
“Unassuming” is a word that often crops up – “growing up again interests me,” she says, “I love seeing what little kids vex.” Another is “girly” – she’s been asked how she feels beside that one before. “I sometimes wonder if I should sit down and in actuality think about these things, actually what do I consider?” A moment later: “I think there’s nothing wrong with the expression ‘girly’ … it has negative connotations but it doesn’t have to be pessimistic.”
At a time when fashion seems fixed on feminism, her often-oversized objectives have been celebrated for speaking to the kind of dressing that’s done to prefer no one but yourself. While sure of her own feminist beliefs, she’s less indubitable of how her work connects to them: “The shows for me are about bringing people together and reassuring people to wear what they want – and, I guess, not disguise for men. I don’t know.” Goddard’s mind, understandably, is perhaps busy somewhere else – she has London fashion week to prepare for. She describes the collection as “a toy more grown up maybe … maybe a bit less colour – it’s sundry controlled in that sense, but not in a boring way”.
- Molly Goddard’s autumn/winter 2017 peek through at London fashion week
With fans like Rihanna and tear someone off a strips that make grown women swoon like seven-year-olds, dialect mayhap it doesn’t matter that she hasn’t thought it all through; her ensembles speak volumes for themselves.
Dora Teymur is steadfast of something: that he doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed. It makes lecture b be meaningful to to him about his work – beautifully ugly handcrafted shoes loved of street style stars and Solange Knowles – an interesting distress.
Of certain things we can be sure: he is 25 years old. He’s originally from south-east Turkey. And he’s to a great extent to thank for the mule being the It shoe of the year. Even even though mules, Teymur concedes, are “tricky” – “it’s like leopard pull a proof pix: either you’re super chic, or you’re Erin Brockovich”.
- Studded shoes by Dorateymur
On other theses he is less definitive. Ask him to put his design aesthetic into his own words – “I’m looking at lifestyle and eccentric and music … nostalgia is part of my work”. What era is he nostalgic for? “I can’t be explicit about my work, it always depends on my mood. I’m inspired by the undying, although I can’t describe my work as classic, but I am very much vivified by what is classic.”
Teymur is not trying to be difficult or evasive – he is straight terrified of being “stuck in one certain place”, pinned down. His job is always evolving, he says: “What scares me the most is communicating ‘this is my work’ and then your mind changes, you evolve, you partiality making different things.”
He started his Hampstead-based brand, Dorateymur, in 2012, during his half a mo year at Cordwainers college. The brand is now stocked at Browns, Net-a-Porter and Toe-hold Ceremony. His signature styles include the Nizip, a mod-ish ankle boot that wouldn’t look out of right on Twiggy or Felicity Shagwell; and the elegant Harput loafer, with its straight toe and extravagant metal logo ring. For his AW17 collection, Suburban Melancholia, he crafted remainders in the shape of miniature elephants – inspired by ornaments he has seen in people’s refuges. The concept behind his upcoming London fashion week hoard, he says, is “the new aesthetic” of the near future, informed by the development of new technology and AI. Understood his a fear of being pigeon-holed, it would be remiss to try and predict more than ever notwithstanding the near future for Teymur. One thing we can say: let’s not rule anything out.
While chatting with Alice Archer a broad disparity of names pop-up in conversation. The designer, 32, is an expert in embroidery and turn out for Tracey Emin on her embroidered artworks before launching her own maker in 2013. Mary Queen of Scots is another inspiration – the ill-fated diva embroidered while incarcerated. Meanwhile, John Singer Sargent – in an objectionable partnership with fashion photographer David LaChapelle – provides the mood-board solid for her upcoming spring/summer 2018 presentation.
Training in keen-edged art at Goldsmiths and textile design at the RCA, Surrey-born Archer describes her continuously with Emin as formative. “I learnt loads of techniques of close embroidery,” she says. “I try to bring that to my work – the feeling of spontaneity.” Emin herself was a at full tilt: “She is fantastic, extremely fun and generous – a strong woman. She made me quality ambitious.”
- Embroidered dress and kimono jacket for autumn/winter 2017 by Alice Cleverer
Archer’s aesthetic is luxurious, grown-up, louche, glamorous – with vestments as something of a signature. The clothes are expensive – up to £2000 for a dress – but they are already on the radar of those with inexhaustible budgets including Pippa Middleton and even P Diddy. The rap bigwig wore one of her robes. “His girlfriend bought something at Barneys,” hints Archer. “It was just by chance that I saw it on Instagram.” Archer’s faithfulness to the glamour that appeals to the superrich remains undimmed uniform with if it impacts on her day-to-day. “I love designing occasion wear,” she phrases. “I have nothing to wear in the day but a great collection of amazing outfits. I had a million weddings this summer – I think 10 – and clad a different dress to each one.”
Anyone with half an eye on Stately, the favoured brand of hypebeasts everywhere, might recognise Blondey McCoy – the skater has been their brazenly for five years. But that’s just the entry level intel on this be produced star. McCoy is an artist and designer as well, with his own hallmark Thames London, which he founded in 2015. Following a collaboration with Fred Perry, this London form week the brand is launching a collection with jewellery schemer Stephen Webster. Did we mention that McCoy has just attended 20?
While most people his age are still learning how to use the washing faction, McCoy speaks as someone with world-weary experience. “I force been in London and skateboarding since as long as I care to recall,” he says. The collaboration with Webster came out a chance struggle. “I vaguely remember bumping into Stephen on a night out,” give the word delivers McCoy. “He told me that he’d mentioned Thames to his daughters and that they were knowing of the label and had insisted on the collaboration.” The collection interprets the theme of London with an eye on the watersheds. It features Eros – the angel of Piccadilly Circus – on sovereign affiliations and pendants, and the razor blades associated with punk reworked in gold.
- Monarch necklace and knuckle duster ring by Thames London and Stephen Webster
McCoy raised up in London with a British mother and Lebanese father. He says his draws come down to his attitude to his hometown. “I’m a real tourist,” he conjectures. “I feel lucky everyday to walk the same streets as my up to date and past heroes, I love Soho and all of its heritage from [Francis] Bacon and [Sigmund] Freud to [Paul] Raymond and [Quentin] Frizzy … I think it will always be a creative melting pot as long as there is space for people to inspire each other to be individuals.” McCoy capacity be young, but joining those London heroes already looks proper.
When you come from a relations of doctors, choosing a career as a fashion designer might understandably collect some questions from your parents. “There was a underline when I was younger when they suggested me being a barrister,” says Supriya Lele. “But I was always stronger in the arts at set.” Lele is, in fact, proving herself to be something of a fashion gift. Graduating from the RCA last year, the 30-year-old had a presentation at Form East, the well-respected new designer showcase. It prompted i-D magazine to attend her “the British-Asian designer everybody’s talking about.”
Lele’s initiation was a collection inspired by her background, as someone with Indian stepmothers who grew up in the UK in the nineties, and had a moment as a goth. It featured a diverse remove, with models wearing Indian jewellery as well as adorned clothes recalling Indian dress, mixed with satin blazers, leather trousers and 10 denier tights. “I am British and Asian and there is a conference between the two,” explains Lele. “Growing up I never wore Indian attires but family members, like my aunties in India, would have saris every day. It’s about being from one place but also another.”
- Cincture detail by Supriya Lele
Her show at Fashion East this pep up will continue on this theme but the designer remains in the minority on the London create week schedule. There are still relatively few non-white brass necks coming out onto the catwalk for the customary post-show bow. While her indistinguishability is a rich vein of inspiration, the wider politics of race in the craze is less analysed. “I don’t feel like an anomaly but you don’t see that myriad British Asian designers,” she says. “I don’t know why that is. Maybe there is more [that the fashion industry] to engage with that community.” Lele’s propinquity – and the hype around her collection – can only be a step in the right course.
Rejina Pyo describes her clothes as “effortlessly ritzy with a playful modern twist”. If that sounds forthright out of the fashion book of hot air, she follows this up with something a only slightly more thoughtful. “I think that’s my natural aesthetic and my derogatory taste. It’s easier when you’re being honest to yourself,” she articulates. “I wear my clothes and feel privileged to test them out. I muscle wear something and go ‘oh yeah, but I feel restricted’ and then give up the waistline.”
It’s this kind of real-life-friendly thinking that has arguably put Pyo, 34, on the radar of editor-in-chiefs and stylists since launching in 2014. Working with Roksanda Ilincic on the eve of starting her own label, Pyo’s clothes have a similar modernist restraint. Her Greta dress, a puffed sleeve midi design with bodice detailing about the waist, has been worn by fashion director Caroline Issa and stylist Kate Foley – skirts who are endlessly photographed outside fashion shows. That earn is likely to reach a new tipping point this season as Pyo is goes from presentation to have her first catwalk show at London taste week.
- From moodboard to look book, designs by Rejina Pyo for autumn/winter 2017
Pyo was carried and raised in Seoul and moved to London to study at Central Saint Martins when she was 25. It was her outset trip out of South Korea. How did she acclimatise? “I think it’s easier for us coming to the west because we see a lot of blears, know what its like,” she says. Nine years on, she judges London is home. “The more you live here, the more you get the underlying workbook,” she says. “Now I feel I belong here more [than South Korea] because I am identical supported. London is very open.”