Friday 22nd March

| BY Paul Toner

Cottweiler Are The First British Brand to Show at Seoul Fashion Week – These Are Their Greatest Hits

East is east. From an underground carpark near Old Street, to the South Korean capital – the Cottweiler boys are taking their AW19 collection on a tour across the world. The London-based menswear label has become the first British brand to show at Seoul Fashion Week, where they will re-stage their AW19 collection, as part of the British Fashion Council’s ongoing partnership with the emerging fashion destination. The move marks an ever growing shift of attention towards the Asian market, which has become a financial powerhouse, particularly in regards to buying into London menswear talent.

Like their London-based contemporaries, Cottweiler are smashing archaic binaries of what menswear can be. But whilst Art School and Charles Jeffrey’s Loverboy crash, shout and dance till the floors of their runways are filled with confetti and broken glass, the Cottweiler boys take a murkier route in challenging traditional masculine dress codes. Whilst sportswear tends to maintain a heteronormative undercurrent, designers Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty have consistently produced highly crafted collections laden with clever nods to homoeroticism. The first chapter of their now ten-collection-strong career subtly played with scally fetishism. Their Tumblr account is a collection of skin-headed lads in Nike TNs and shell suits. One video, a preview to their AW14 collection, even sees a model showering in an all-white Cottweiler tracksuit. More HardBritLads than your average fashion film.

Their subtle exploration of fetishised sportswear is ever evolving. They did camping gear for AW17, moving to cave divers a year later – where the model’s hands wear coated in jelly-based lubricant. For SS19, the Cottweiler man took a trip to the spa, by a detour to the sauna. His torso covered in cupping marks, nipples pierced with rings and bum firmly tucked into a pair of skimpy shorts.

For the collection that was re-showcased in Seoul today, the duo channelled a seedier side. Consisting of mostly earthy hues, the palette was inspired by Epping Forrest, a neighbouring attraction to Dainty’s family home, and funnily enough one of the biggest cruising grounds in Europe. “It has surrounded me for a very long time and I was oblivious to it till I was a lot older” admitted Dainty back at the January show. It was here, where the Cottweiler boys cleverly used ‘the lost art of cruising’ as a reference point in encapsulating the consequence technology has played at the suspense of human face-to-face interaction.

Nipples were visible, the rear of a white pair of nylon tracksuit bottoms slashed to expose the buttock. Subtle, more tactical, visual codes could be missed at first glance. Singular gloves and handkerchiefs attached to belts, flies of trousers left unzipped. Stains, which leave little to the imagination, occupy the crotch of acid washed jeans. One particular nylon track jacket in clashing blues has a cap built into the hood, perfect for keeping the casual cruiser warm, and more importantly, on the down low. In the age of Grindr, a menu of possible sexual endeavours a mere 500m away in our tiny phone screens, you could say the power clothing plays when it comes to gay sex is slowly deteriorating. Though the Cottweiler man may not scream fetish-appeal on the surface, his shell suit armour is potently erotic, and testament to the brand’s ability to challenge traditional masculine dress codes. In celebration of the landmark event for the brand, we bring you a few of our favourite Cottweiler looks.