It’s been a strange set of shows this London menswear week. Times in fashion are changing. Will menswear have its own calendar for much longer? Debatable, given that most of the megawatt brands are combining menswear and womenswear. Burberry’s departure from the schedule has already left a gap which hasn’t been filled - there’s less on offer this season. In part, that’s a good thing, it puts more focus on the new establishment brands and the up-and-coming talent. But general consensus is that this week has been somewhat lacking in punch. It’s not been an LCM (or LFWM - it’s hard to keep up with the branding of all the fashion weeks) to remember. Until Cottweiler.
Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty’s show had energy, urgency and a strong conceptual focus. It also looked like it could have a viable life off the runway, on forward-thinking boys and men, which makes a pleasant change from a lot of the other clothing on show elsewhere. There was something of a spat on social media in the hours around the show when it emerged that musician and 'London menswear ambassador' (no, I’m not sure what it means either) Tinie Tempah, on explaining his rationale for launching his own brand - in case you’re interested, the clothes were average to poor - stated, 'as a 28-year-old, I didn’t really feel there was a London brand that really catered for the young, London-centric millennial man of today.' Pardon? Firstly, anyone who would describe themselves as a ‘young, London-centric millennial man of today’ is clearly not someone worth meeting. But, if anyone is doing the best job of catering to exciting young minds it’s Cottweiler. Or Astrid Andersen. Or Craig Green. Or anyone else on schedule for that matter. But, with this show, the Cottweiler duo proved a real knack for creating good clothes (those waterproof broken tracksuits were winners) with sufficient subtle references and nods to excite and inspire. For A/W 17, the undertone of the collection spoke of the tension between the natural world and the modern environment. The Cottweiler duo are in the same camp as designers such as Virgil Abloh of OFF-WHITE - they approach design much like today’s musicians approach song making, by referencing and sampling iconic riffs or famous beats, and giving them a new meaning for a new generation. Cottweiler’s new take on fetish, on camping gear, on ‘scally drag’, feels familiar but fresh - like all good fashion should.