In the lead-up to making his SS22 collection, Saul Nash’s mum brought him a box of things she’d kept from his teenage years. Inside was an old school shirt scribbled in last day signatures, his under-18 Oyster card and more relics from his days as a Hackney schoolboy. Nash hadn’t always had the easiest time as a teenager – his last collection looked to his own struggles of coming to terms with his sexuality – but he began piecing together fragments of what he could remember of schooling life. “Facing the past and, by doing so, being able to move forward,” as written in his show notes.
It was Nash’s first solo catwalk show, opening the first in-real-life London Fashion Week in over 18 months. To the sound of teenage screeches and early ‘00s grime beats, models hung around a TfL bus stop. They began peeling off their uniforms, stuffing them inside their Nike Just Do It! backpacks and changing into tracksuits, swapping out their Kickers for Nike Dunks. This was a daily after-school ritual for teenagers like Nash growing up in the capital through the 2000s, who would pile onto buses, Bluetooth each other tunes and venture through the city.
“We’d always get in trouble for breaking the uniform rules,” says Nash, who set upon merging the strictness of his school attire and casual PE kits with a design language that’s distinctly him. From technical vests cut from deadstock pique, through to deconstructed trench coats and breathable tracksuits with mesh lining – these pieces aren’t just good to look at, they’re clever, too.
Nash inserted magnets into many of the garments, allowing each to move in unique formations, while also laser cutting jackets as a new way of exploring ventilation. He then took the Oyster card he found in the box and created a waved print, which he describes as a “poignant” reminder of the government’s plan to scrap free travel for young Londoners last year. “When I found that in the box, I was like ‘Wow, I was one of those kids’, that Oyster card gave me liberation,” he says.
When taking his final bow, Nash gleamed as he skipped and danced wearing that very same old school shirt that inspired the collection in the first place. This isn’t just someone happy to be taking a trip back to school, he’s the star of the class.
Photography courtesy of Saul Nash.