Wednesday 22nd July

| BY Paul Toner

Nicholas Daley: Menswear SS21

One name we always look forward to seeing during London Fashion Week is Nicholas Daley. The menswear maven’s presentations aren’t clogged with the usual face-buried-in-phone-screens and front row snobbery. Instead, each season he invites a cohort of musicians who make up his universe to dazzle the fashion pack with a catwalk-cum-concert that always leaves a massive grin on everyone’s faces. As the London Fashion Week Men’s shows were swapped out for a digital showcase this past June, Daley postponed the unveiling of his SS21 collection, and instead released a BTS film that flashed back to last season’s psychedelic rock performance courtesy of Kwake Bass, Wu-Lu and Rago Foot.

Such a rapid change in circumstances, in the face of the Covid-19 health pandemic, saw Daley pivot his focus slightly. During the lockdown, he picked up a newfound love for karate, following the footsteps of his girlfriend who’s a black belt in the sport. His favourite new past time infiltrated his creative practice, prompting the designer to explore a rather unique “cross-cultural connection felt across the black diaspora.” Daley began to look to the intersection between martial arts and reggae culture during the 1970s, looking specifically to the musician Peter Tosh; a massive martial arts fan who would interweave combat moves into his live performances.

Daley – whose parents were responsible for hosting some of Scotland’s most seminal reggae nights throughout the 1970s – used Tosh’s 1977 single “Stepping Stone” as this season’s title – plastering it across a cracking selection of graphic tees. Instead of inviting his usual clan of musical talent to model the collection, Daley called upon Jordan Thomas; a former world and European champion who is set to be Britain’s first Olympic karateka at the upcoming Tokyo games next summer. Traditional martial arts silhouettes are given the Daley treatment throughout. Slouched trousers fitted with classic Karate Gi belt ties come adorned with the reinforced panels that have become somewhat of a Daley signature in recent years. Khaki-coloured string vests are worn under quilted jackets made in collaboration with Lavenham, elevated with wax cotton inserts courtesy of  Halley Stevensons up in Dundee. Other stand-outs include tam caps, wrinkled waistcoats, pin-striped cardies and a hoodie which features a graphic of Peter Tosh mid kick – worn by Thomas, doing some impressive moves of his own. The Karate Kid has never looked so good.

Photographs by Piczo.