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While most Londoners hid from the elements amid Storm Eunice last weekend, the fashion crowd was out in force for the biggest London Fashion Week since the pandemic began. Across the city, 92 physical shows, presentations and events took place, compared to 79 physical activations last September during the Spring/Summer 2022 season, according to the British Fashion Council.
Designers such as Fashion East’s Conner Ives and Jawara Alleyne have pushed the boundaries of upcycling; the cast included in the size continued to improve; emerging designer collections have matured; and shoppers from retailers such as Saks and Matches sat front row, eager to order. Raf Simons surprised London with the launch of his fall 2022 unisex collection via a first video. High profile models including Irina Shayk, Edie Campbell, Paloma Elsesser, Issa Lish and Kayako Higuchi were also in town and showed their support for younger brands. “It’s faded a bit during the pandemic, so it’s good to see people trying to bring back the prominence of London this season,” says Tiffany Hsu, director of fashion buying at Mytheresa.
“It feels good to be back at London Fashion Week after a two-year break. The creative energy and buzz is electric,” says Saks fashion director Roopal Patel, who flew in from New York.”London Fashion Week has always been a place on the global map for new emerging talent,” she adds, “and that’s what the Fall 2022 collections delivered, with Nensi Dojaka, Harris Reed, Maximilian and Chet Lo.”
Emerging designers are coming of age
Led by the British Fashion Council, London Fashion Week billed itself as the home of cutting-edge fashion, backed by big names like Burberry and Alexander McQueen, none of whom showed up on schedule.
With some innovative digital excitations such as Roksanda’s NFT, physical emissions were back. Some designers have pushed the envelope. “In London, creativity is always at the forefront. Designers like Harris Reed and Matty Bovan are really pushing their brand forward [commercially], even if their starting point can be considered as avant-garde”, explains Natalie Kingham. This is her first season as a freelance fashion consultant after 11 years at Matches, most recently as purchasing director.
Saul Nash, Ahluwalia, Nensi Dojaka, Stefan Cooke and Maximilian (as part of Fashion East) were among the emerging brands that came out on top this season, having carved out clear brand identities and communities – this is not no small feat, says Stavros Karelis, founder and chief purchasing officer of Machine-A. “They’ve all evolved so much and are on their way to becoming their own engines.” Some big brands are resting too much on their laurels and haven’t evolved enough to resonate with younger consumers, he says.