Thursday 2nd July

| BY Paul Toner

A Show In A Box: JW Anderson Reveal SS21 Men’s and Resort Collections

The fashion pack are often used to receiving elaborate gifts in the post. But what happens when a designer sends two entire collections to your front door one Wednesday afternoon? JW Anderson unveiled both its spring/summer 2021 menswear and resort 2021 collections not with a look book, nor with an elaborate digital showcase. Instead, the eponymous label remarkably delivered an A4-sized cardboard box to editors across the globe. Inside contained not only images of the collections – which came both poster-sized and as small as a postcard – but nails, pressed flowers, cartoon masks and swatches of fabric.

Jonathan Anderson has never been a designer who finds comfort in conformity. Currently, brands across the world are gearing up for a fashion season that’s going to be nothing like we’ve experienced before. Next week the inaugural digital haute couture week will commence, followed by the first online Paris and Milan fashion weeks. Designers across the field are having to find innovative ways to debut their latest collections within a global pandemic. For many, this will mean utilising new, technological advances to create URL fashion experiences that are like no other.

What the designer has produced is a complete antithesis to the digitalised fashion world that circulates around him. He called his show in a box “an act of defiance” as he unveiled the creation to the world on Instagram. Anderson wanted to head back to a time when we made things on our own, with our bare hands. An ode to the art of telling stories through craft, he encouraged whoever received a box to experience its story in their own way; “take time to embrace each individual thing at your own pace,” he said.

As the brand was unable to shoot the collections on actual models, clothes appear slouched on wooden mannequins adorned with cheeky chap masks created by Pol Anglada. Both the liveliness and playful nature of these fictional characters are reflected in the clothes. The roomy, oversized silhouettes that appear throughout the menswear are reflective of those seemingly endless days in lockdown. Jumpers are so large they trail on the floor; plastered in trippy prints and illustrated portraits which take their cues from hanging tapestries, explained Anderson.

With the collection being created during such unprecedented times, it was important for the designer that none of these clothes could be placed within a particular decade. An excellent example of this is the series of capes that are elevated to resemble not only a contemporary jacket, but a hoodie as well. These are clothes that are truly exciting. Fluid, energetic. Men’s trenches that flare at the bottom like a lady of leisure’s. Sleeveless jumpers adorned with pompoms. Tunic dresses dotted with a family of pillows. Joyous, through-and-through.

The resort wear follows a similar narrative, utilising many of same brocades, florals and lace detailings that appeared in the men’s collection. What differs is the silhouette, which is now nipped in at the waist to offer those large swaths of fabric some shape. There’s suits with rounded lapels, safari jackets with matching culottes and a series of gowns that effortlessly fall into a handkerchief hem. Each look is paired with a vibrant face-covering designed by Bertjan Pot.

The uncertainties that engulf the fashion industry as we know it, which is now in a digital state of flux can, at times, feel rather dystopian. To be able to explore a collection with our own hands, to be able to touch the swatches of fabric that it’s actually made from, is a soothing recollection of a time before. “This collection I will always remember doing, and in a weird way I’m glad it was this way,” explained Anderson. “It’s about understanding who you are, why you design and why you love making clothing.”