Wednesday 16th December

| BY Paul Toner

London Calling: Art School is One of Our 10 Menswear Designers to Meet

On March 23, Boris Johnson put the UK into a lockdown unlike anything we had ever experienced, in order to protect the country from a health pandemic the majority of us had never witnessed before. A mere two months earlier we’d barged through bustling crowds at London Fashion Week Men’s (LFWM), our knees brushing up against each other as we sat tightly packed into narrow rows within busy venues dotted across the capital. Totally unaware of the storm brewing in the distance. This was to be the last LFWM as we knew it. As the global fashion schedule came to a standstill in the face of Covid-19, the British Fashion Council took the opportunity to rethink the seasonal calendar entirely. Moving forward, London Fashion Week would become one gender-neutral platform, and its first iteration would be solely digital, held this past June. 

Many London designers – not long out of university and entirely independent – didn’t have access to a studio, never mind physical resources, during lockdown. Instead, each faced the task of steering the codes that have shaped their brand thus far into uncharted waters, a URL unknown. Some crafted virtual-reality exhibitions and made capsule collections from deadstock, others decided not to show at all. So we spoke to the talent behind 10 of the city’s most promising brands to find out how they approached a season no one could have imagined. 

Art School’s AW20 collection, shown back in January, was a sombre precursor to the tumultuous times ahead. Designers Tom Barratt and Eden Loweth swapped out their usual club-ready fashions for a more nuanced, unisex wardrobe that featured withered tailoring, charcoal ballgowns and old-school nursing uniforms. “Lockdown provided me with the time to really delve into how Art School should evolve creatively over the coming years,” says Loweth, who now helms the label alone. The Fashion East graduate was also able to invest more time and dedication in the planning process of his SS21 collection, called Therapy. Is Art School about to give us the fashion fix we’ve all been craving? We think so.

Have you picked up any new hobbies while stuck at home?

“I’ve become the fashion industry’s version of Nigella Lawson – all part of my lockdown fantasy lifestyle!”

What did a day in lockdown look like for you?

“I always start my day with a 5k run. Mentally this gives me the clarity to start the day right. Normally it then consists of working from my home studio on the new collection, as well as plenty of Zoom calls.”

And your go-to lockdown look?

“Always a Balenciaga suit and a silk shirt!”

How do you hope the industry will change in a post-Covid world?

“It will be more community-focused. The effects of Covid have really opened people’s eyes to the realities creatives face in the industry, as well as what the consumer really wants from their clothes.”

Top image by Anna Stokland. Taken from Issue 52 of 10 Men – COMMUNITY, BELONGING, UPLIFTING – available to purchase here.