Last week national and international menswear designers showcased their autumn-winter collections at London Collections: Men for the 4th season. Catwalk shows and presentations, eccentric street style combats and classy front row action, emerging talent and established brands – sartorial pleasures as far as the eye can reach.
Sublime has picked three labels that are not only dedicated to innovative design but also to sustainable production processes, local manufacturing and environmentally friendly practices.
ADA + NIK
Ada + Nik, a collaboration between fashion designer Ada Zanditon and multi-media creative Nik Thakkar, debuted last summer at London Collections: Men, where the duo presented their first collection. London College of Fashion graduate Ada, who has worked as a designer for some years, is known for her sculptural yet elegant womenswear, embellished with her signature illustrations, as well as her commitment to organic fabrics and sustainable practices. Nik is the voice behind the fashion site karlismyunkle.com, works as a brand consultant and writes for various publications.
Last Monday the pair showed their second collection at ME Hotel in London where ahead of the show Ada + Nik’s fashion film The Dark Wolf premiered. In the short movie, directed and produced by Oz Thakkar, male model Diego Barrueco is trapped in an endless sand desert, an alternate reality, while rapper SMITH LDN battles the Dark Wolf, which leads to the reunion of the two heroes. Following the film, which convinced because of its impressive visuals and the use of modern technology rather than content, Ada + Nik presented thirty very strong, all-black styles including their signature biker jackets, gender-neutral, long shirts and geometrically cut outerwear. The material mix – sheer fabrics, leather applications – and the layering resulted in a multi-faceted collection defined by a progressive noir aesthetic.
Where possible Ada + Nik use organic and natural fabrics and dyes, produce energy-consciously and source materials ethically. The brand thrives to be fashion-forward and innovative while having the added benefit of being green.
Christopher Raeburn is probably Britain’s most well-known representative of the sustainable fashion movement. He became known for his re-appropriation of military fabrics and in particular for iconic outerwear created from decommissioned parachutes. For his AW14 collection Polaris, manufactured in the UK, he once again re-used and upcycled old material. The designer deconstructed and redesigns authentic sheepskin coats formerly worn by Siberian officers, created lightweight parkas using old German military sleeping bags and laminated snow camouflage to enhance performance and utility. The result is a collection for the modern explorer ready to discover the Arctic. Heavy outerwear, thick knitwear and faux fur coats as well as lighter pieces worn with heavy-duty boots and large rucksacks combine style and function. The colour palette – grey, navy and olive tones – represent the mood of a cold and ruthless winter.
Polaris is inspired by the exhibition The Last Days of the Arctic by Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson, which documents a disappearing world of craft, culture and community. The ability to survive in the harshest of conditions of the men and women captured and their resourcefulness and stoicism resonate with Raeburn’s ongoing interest in protection and preparation.
Meanwhile LaurenceAirline presented a more colourful and buoyant collection. It’s the menswear label of designer Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud, who is based between Paris and Abidjan in Ivory Coast, her country of birth. After Laurence’s studies the young woman worked for big brands such as Louis Vuitton in Paris but soon launched her own small business. At first, things didn’t work out and the designer’s t-shirt collection wouldn’t sell but the experience taught her ‘to make something with nothing.’
During a time of reassessment in London, Laurence met pattern maker Christina Schatzeder and from then on the two were a team, which was the turning point. Back in Ivory Coast the pair started working on a simple menswear collection based on shirts made of African fabric in a non-traditional way. LaurenceAirline’s designs are still to this day entirely manufactured by local workers in Abidjan trained by Laurence in order to give them the opportunity to properly learn a valuable skill following international standards.
LaurenceAirline combines European culture and the designer’s African roots in a very contemporary yet timeless way and helps to establish Africa’s modern reality in the international fashion scene. Basic silhouettes, modern tailoring and authentic, vibrant African prints and colours associated with the continent result in bold aesthetics. Laurence describes the LaurenceAirline customer as ‘an expressive authentic man keen on equally going in search of himself and others. A modern dandy and explorer. A traveller, literally or figuratively’.