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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Joe Bromley

London’s menswear power list! The 12 hottest new designers to know

London’s reputation on the global fashion map is maintained by a secret weapon: a constant stream of new, maverick designers.

By now, it is a well-oiled sewing machine. There are the schools: Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, Westminster. The support systems: Fashion East and the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN. And the prizes: The Queen Elizabeth II Design Award, the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund and The Woolmark Prize. Together they set the fledgling gang of Alexander McQueen hopefuls on the best trajectory possible.

Tomorrow, celebrations return as London Fashion Week runs for four days, with a scaled-down June offering. The slot, once reserved for menswear designers, is genderless in 2023. However, it remains male-centric and is followed by the men’s collections of Milan and Paris. The spring/summer 2024 shows will be defined by a handful of headline shows each day, including Daniel W Fletcher, Saul Nash and Martine Rose. It promises to prove, once again, that inquisitive design is in this city’s seams. As cult-favourite menswear designer Stefan Cooke puts it: “London feels like the primordial ooze of menswear. So many talented designers have studied here and then gone on to change the menswear industry.”

From the woman adding a queer, female touch to her menswear to the man bridging the gap between the West and West Africa and a breakout star from May’s CSM graduate collection — these are the names set to change how men dress:

Aaron Esh

Aaron Esh (PR handout)

The name to drop around any art school-goers. “It’s about the feelings of sophistication, elegance and chic but dressing that boy walking down Kingsland High Street,” says Aaron Esh, who founded his label after graduating from Central Saint Martins’s MA Fashion in 2022. Look for the well-cut, muted-tone tailoring with subversive twists: waistcoats wrap up into halter neck tops, while puff skirt-cum-shorts are made with Gore-Tex. “I’m looking at the hallmarks of luxury fashion — tailoring, craft, beautiful fabrics, amazing fabric — but rooting it in realism,” he says.



Derrick (PR handout)

As the son of Robin Derrick, former creative director of British Vogue, and make-up artist Lisa Eldridge, Luke Derrick had sure footing when entering fashion. His 2021 brand launch proved he had the skill to back it up, too. “I want to resuscitate British tailoring and formalwear, creating collections that respond to the urgency of contemporary urban life,” he says. “The label celebrates a philosophy of designing to ‘get away with it’ — for the era of on-the-move urban flux; from the Zoom call, to the Central line, to the office, and stepping out into the night.” A recent highlight was meeting King Charles in May. “The royal opinion was ‘marvellous trousers’, by the way,” he says.



Labrum (PR handout)

Labrum was the undisputed champion of February’s fashion week, as the Sierra Leonean designer took over Brixton Village Market with the help of artist Yinka Illori. The result was an evening of music, poetry, dance and, importantly, a forward-thinking, tailored collection punctuated with stamp prints which spoke to his brand tagline: “designed by an immigrant”. “It is a modern-day menswear brand telling the untold stories of West Africa and London to help bridge the cultural gap,” says designer Foday Dumbuya, who founded the label in 2014. In May, he was presented with The Queen Elizabeth II Design Award by King Charles. “Receiving this award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of not only myself but the countless individuals who have supported me and my vision,” he says.


SS Daley

SS Daley (PR handout)

He is one of London’s leading lights. Last year, Daley benefited from the €300,000 LVMH Prize for young designers, and in February he boasted Ian McKellen on the catwalk and Anna Wintour sat on the front row. “The brand looks to take the classic, traditional ideas of British heritage and subvert them into modern contexts,” he says of his whimsical, Brideshead Revisited meets swoon-worthy sailor designs. His big break came after he dressed Harry Styles for his Golden music video in 2020, the same year he graduated from the University of Westminster. “We started by selling and making the odd pair of trousers in my bedroom, and now we have a thriving direct-to-consumer business and global wholesale accounts,” he says.



JordanLuca (PR handout)

Design duo and real-life couple Jordan Bowen and Luca Marchetto are their own best advert — you can rely on spotting the Italian-born, London-based pair at every great party dressed in their sexy, slashed denim or collaboration pieces with Gucci and Lonsdale. “We’re inspired by the people we know and admire, and the collections are a response to our life together in London. We’re not nostalgic and believe the best time is always now, ” they say, of the brand they founded in 2018. “We’re self-referential designers and where we are from creates the clash between Italian heritage and the raw intensity of London. This city is still the best place to be creative and to be constantly inspired by its radical thinkers and visceral talent.”


Carlota Barrera

Carlota Barrera (PR handout)

Barrera  is the woman putting her stamp on genderless style. “I founded the brand as a queer woman to present a modern vision of core garments through a very personal female gaze,” she says. “It is inspired by Spanish heritage, queer history and evolving gender identities.” Her soft masculinity look, debuted in 2019, is defined by subtle cut-out shirts, slouchy suits and touches of bullfighting traje de luces uniforms. In part, she thanks London for her success. “The city has always been a vibrant and diverse hub for the creative industry, and it has been particularly supportive of the inclusive fashion movement.”


Olly Shinder

Olly Shinder (PR handout)

Shinder has great promise just one year into founding his label and leaving Central Saint Martins. For him, sexy techwear is king. “It’s about having fun with clothes and adding something new and beautiful to the world,” the designer, best known for his way with zips, says. “I sold my graduate collection to stores for spring/summer 2023, and in the last year have joined Dover Street Market Paris, an incubator who help me with the business parts of running a brand.” He has had some help at home too — the debut designs were photographed by his boyfriend Wolfgang Tillmans, hinting at some priceless one-on-one brand consultancy.


Av Vattev

Av Vattev (PR handout)

Av Vattev did not enjoy a smooth start. The Bulgarian designer founded his label in 2020, and was subsequently struck down by the pandemic. “It was a tricky start, but it gave me the time to work on the brand’s values,” he says. “The core of Av Vattev is based on Seventies’ freedom of expression, coming from the music and performance scenes.” His pattern cutting is excellent, meaning classic bowling shirts or tailored trousers are rejuvenated with appliqué panels in contrast shades. A bonus: 70 per cent of his output is made using deadstock fabrics.


Eden Tan

Eden Tan (PR handout)

He was the star of Central Saint Martins’ BA Fashion graduate collection in May, and snagged the L’Oréal Professionnel Young Talent Award (“which is more a prestige thing, but they give you £2,000”, he says). He whipped up a frenzy making six looks without cutting any fabric off the rolls, which billowed into long trains as they closed the 134 collection show. “I have been making use of different materials that were going to waste — making bags, wallets, keychains from bike tyres; bags from rugs; bags from jackets and more,” he says. “So these looks use folds, gathers and the odd slit here and there to edge close enough to archetypal clothes in the hope that people can suspend their disbelief that all they’re looking at is a roll of fabric wrapped around someone.”


Daniel W Fletcher

Daniel W Fletcher (PR handout)

Fletcher is one of the biggest names set to show this week, with a runway planned at The Royal Academy on Friday. “It’s my dream venue and I have a collaboration with Savile Row tailors Huntsman to create nine suits as part of the collection,” he says. “DWF is all about re-imagining British heritage. Whilst my inspiration comes from the familiar, the output is darker, sexier and consciously designed for the world today.” The designer, who founded the label in 2015 and was appointed creative director of Fiorucci in 2019, is best recognised for sleek, contrast denim jackets and navy satin slacks and shirts.


Saul Nash

Saul Nash (PR handout)

Nash’s dance-oriented label has benefited from all the support London has to offer. He began showing with talent incubator Fashion East in 2019 before becoming a recipient of the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN financial and mentorship support initiative last year. “London has been extremely supportive. I think the magic here is that they really champion new talent and this is essential for emerging talent or young businesses,” says the designer, who also won the Woolmark Prize and The Queen Elizabeth II Design Award in 2022. “My brand creates technical garments which are cut and designed for the liberation of movement,” he says.


Stefan Cooke

Stefan Cooke (PR handout)

This label has a diehard fanbase, as anyone cramming to get into their sample sale earlier this year can testify to. It was founded by partners Stefan Cooke and Jake Burt in 2017, and earned a name with slashed sweaters and upcycled handbags and trompe l’oeil printed slacks. “When we started, we were trying to create the most intricate, beautifully crafted techniques in the most DIY way possible due to our financial circumstances. As the brand has grown, we no longer have the same total financial constraint, but we still try to push subverted, outsider techniques to a luxury level. It’s hardcore craft refined to severity on neo-traditional menswear,” says Cooke. “We are so grateful to have a cult audience who we really identify with.”


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