Sunday 24th January

| BY Paul Toner

Phipps: Menswear AW21

Spencer Phipps is having a whole lot of fun whilst navigating this strange, URL fashion world we now live in. For the past two iterations of Paris Fashion Week men’s, the Californian designer has made his own movie trailers with big-screen potential. Growing up in the Bay-Area, he spent a lot of his adolescence trawling through the shelves at Blockbuster (G.B.N.F). Young Frankenstein, Wayne’s World, The Lion King and Top Gun were the foundations of his VHS collection, says the designer.

His latest teaser, titled Endurance, is a bit of a double-edged sword. At moments, it feels like a parody of a Netflix-produced thriller, where Phipps serves as both the hunky protagonist and the booming voice-over. Though, both the clip and the collection tackle very real issues in regards to the current climate emergency.

“I think the fashion industry, as such a big player in this crisis, has a lot of responsibility in trying to fix it and honestly I don’t see a lot of changes happening,” says the designer. “Here at Phipps, we are just trying to do our part. The film is a bit of a satire, but it is very earnest in its message. I have a tendency, personally, to deal with a lot of difficult life situations through humour so it was natural for me to apply it here. I hope to make light of the climate crisis but also simultaneously inspire people to action.”

Endurance borrows its name from a ship that sunk during one of Irish explorer’s Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expeditions, with Phipps travelling to the Skaftafellsjökull glacier in Iceland to shoot the film. “We have met the enemy, and the enemy is ourselves,” says Phipps at one point as he emerges shirtless from the icey waters.

The collection mixes formal menswear tropes with skating and ski gear. Think nylon trenchcoats made from recycled sea-plastic, flared knitted jumpsuits and silky, barely-there shorts worn with long-johns. Phipps is particularly fond of the “Save the fucking whales” t-shirts: “[they] make me giggle every time I see them.”

As someone who is totally acing digital fashion week, does Phipps ever want to go back to physical shows? “I love making films and I love the medium as a way to communicate about fashion. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to present our collections in a different way,” he affirms.  “That said, I love working on fashion shows and I am looking forward to getting back to that again. I think we will definitely keep the films going, but they can be linked together and work simultaneously. I’m looking forward to starting the next one already.”

Photography courtesy of Phipps.

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