There’s a fight or flight mentality in fashion right now. To put things brutally honestly, it’s not a great time to be a designer. In London, prices are astronomical. Simply renting a studio can cripple a young creative. Post-Brexit, things are looking even bleaker. Happy London Fashion Week Men’s? Not really. Some designers are plugging on regardless, observing that fashion can and should be a force for joy and pushing forward with the optimism and frolics. Others are taking their pessimism and turning it into something vaguely irreverent and punchy. Liam Hodges, a tell-it-like-it-is, no frills kind of designer is in the latter camp. The opening line of his show notes? ‘A line written by performance poet Hector Aponysus for Dystopia Lives, ‘Looking for a vocation in the decline of civilisation’ sums up the state we find ourselves in.’ Cheery! He’d channelled his pessimism into tributes to Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (see those bucket-cum-bowlers, a collaboration with Noel Stewart) and a new take on the classic bare breasts Seditionaries t-shirt, this time with Mary (the sex worker with three breasts) from Total Recall - think Anarchy in the UK for a new generation who prefer video games to records, iPhones to Beethoven.
But Hodges has little reason to feel too angry or hopeless. His stockists have doubled in the last six months thanks to a focus on pragmatic, uniform pieces. There were plenty of those on offer for A/W 17 - that camo is a classic, as too are those punchy neon knits. In times of trouble, designers often return to tried and tested classics - military is the oldest menswear trick in the book. Hodges take was twisted enough to feel exciting and will help boost those stockists even further.