Tuesday 29th December

| BY Paul Toner

London Calling: MMRMS Studio is Our Next Menswear Designer 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. 

Thomas Harvey, founder of MMRMS Studio, is writing his own rulebook. Since breaking onto the scene back in 2018 via putting on his own degree show after not getting into London College of Fashion’s official graduate showcase, the designer has shifted away from the “traditional” ways of doing things. Avoiding London Fashion Week entirely, he shows when he wants to, having produced sensual capsule collections inspired by Jamaican dancehall culture. He planned to reveal his latest offering in a party setting, wanting to invite friends and family to get drunk, try on the clothes and vibe to some good tunes. Coronavirus and the death of a loved one brought such big plans to a standstill. “I had this air of uncertainty in everything I did from that point onwards,” he says. “However, it hasn’t stopped me from thinking about creating for the future. I’m looking forwards now, and some beautiful things are on their way.”

And such things started with Dambala, a capsule collection of club-ready fashions celebrating a soft and sensual Black masculinity that is absent from mainstream representation, revealed back in July. Armed with hot and steamy fabrics in dangerous cuts, Harvey is crafting the perfect wardrobe for when we can return to the dancefloor.

How have you found creating during lockdown?

“In terms of fashion, I haven’t been as productive as I’d like. I’ve just been taking this time to rejuvenate myself creatively. I spent a lot of time researching new artists, making new mood and vision boards and just creatively realigning myself. I’ve also been focusing on creating sound pieces alongside this. It incorporated a lot of screaming noises inspired by the likes of Yoko Ono. It kind of went like, ‘AHHHHHHHHHHHH- HHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!’ – something like that.”

What was your go-to lockdown look?

“I’ve really been trying to channel yoga mums. There’s just something about their energy. So, you’ll catch me in cycling shorts, leggings and tank tops. I’ve really been giving athleisure.”

How did you have to adapt the way you create during lockdown?

“I didn’t. I think being able to present a collection with the Black Lives Matter movement in full effect was beautiful. We were constantly bombarded with death and violence around Black bodies so, seeing our- selves in a beautiful light, I hope, allowed people to feel loved and celebrated.”

Where should people wear your clothes once life returns to a state of normality?

“Anywhere they’re engaging in debauchery!”

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