Wednesday 20th January

| BY Paul Toner

John Alexander Skelton: Menswear AW21

The invitation for John Alexander Skelton’s AW21 collection was as old fashioned as they come. It came on a USB – remember those? – that housed both a film and a beautifully shot lookbook by Oscar Foster-Kane. The USB came attached by thick black string to an ink-stained letter handwritten by Skelton. (Well, actually a photocopy of a  handwritten letter, but you get the gist.) In a blotchy scrawl, the designer detailed that the collection’s starting point was a photography book gifted by one of his tutors whilst he studied at Central Saint Martins. The said book housed the work of Jack Hulme – a Yorkshireman, like Skelton – who from 1926 took photographs of his local community in Fryston, Yorkshire. Just a stone’s throw from where the designer grew up, writes Skelton.

The designer goes on to say that as Hulme was from the small pit village, he had an eye for authenticity compared to, let’s say, a London tabloid photographer who would’ve been sent to capture “grim” life up’t north. From there, Skelton was able to get in contact with Hulme’s grandson, who let the designer trawl through the late photographer’s extensive archive of images, offering a wealth of material to get started on making the collection.

“A notion of utility and at the same time the presence of elegance in cloth and cut has translated directly through into this collection,” explains Skelton, who was drawn to how practical the men in Hulme’s photos appeared whilst working in old suits. He explains how such blokes could sport a jumper beneath a tailored jacket, worn under an overcoat, and still be able to work without restriction. The designer translated such layering into a collection of fabricated countryside garb driven by wearability, clothes that we would personally want to wear to go about a “plethora of practical situations.”

Captured in a film by Rei Nadal, the collection is worn by a series of models as they trudge through the snowy Yorkshire countryside, with each reciting a section of a poam by Skelton’s younger brother, Ryan. They wear three-piece suits with added pockets, thick overcoats made from Scottish tweed and hand-crocheted Welsh and Yorkshire woollen scarfs. And they look bloody fantastic.

Photography by Oscar Foster-Kane.

johnalexanderskelton.com