Thursday 3rd December

| BY Paul Toner

London Calling: Patrick McDowell 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. 

At the church of Patrick McDowell, we worship. Hailing from Merseyside, the young designer is at the forefront of the sustainable revolution. For SS21, he created a fully digitised collection inspired by his Catholic upbringing and, more specifically, the Church and its treatment of queer people.

Since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2018, McDowell has garnered himself some notable fans, including rapper MIA and Anna Wintour, who praised him for his planet-friendly designs.“Business is waking up to the idea that, financially, sustainability makes sense,” he says. “As designers, it’s our role to re-design the systems we work in, not only the clothes we create. I think if anything happens in your supply chain that you wouldn’t be happy displaying on a cinema screen in your store, then it needs to stop.”

What’s it been like creating during lockdown?

“I have found lockdown harder than I let on. Originally it was all about at-home tutorials and banana bread, but I think at some point I fell into a corona coma, with all the classic signs of depression. It’s been rather comforting somehow to speak openly about this more recently with friends and colleagues and understand that I think, for most, this time was very challenging in unexpected ways. I have a lot of sympathy for those living with loneliness now. Creative? Not particularly. Life-changing? Definitely.”

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

“I’ve got into running again, which has been lovely. Even just cycling to the studio has been great. I always underestimate the serious positive effects that moving the body can have, especially when you aren’t feeling great, such as a global pandemic.”

What’s the worst thing about being a designer in London?

“The way people dress on a night out – I think London could learn a lot from Liverpool.”

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