The current set of menswear shows mark five years of London Collections: Men's, or London Fashion Week Men's as it's been rebranded. Confused by the title change? Don't worry - all the industry is currently in a state of disagreement about how best to position and promote menswear. Just a few seasons ago it was hailed as a great success that London menswear was given more of a showcase than one solitary day, awkwardly tacked on to the end of the womenswear shows. Fast forward to now and that original set up seems more en vogue. Just look to the last set of Paris menswear shows, where the final day saw a range of designers, from Paul Smith to Kenzo, showcase their men's and women's offer together. Look too to Gucci, who have combined their offers with great success. Or to Burberry. Will LCM - or whatever you wish to call it - last? Maybe not, given current set ups, despite the staunch belief amongst many designers that combining shows to include both genders will push menswear back out of the spotlight, dwarfing it again under the showy, celeb-obsessed shadow of the womenswear. But why not celebrate what this London showcase has achieved so far? And who better to make a case for their right to do that than Topman, who have, over the years supported and sponsored the shows of many great young designers - Grace Wales Bonner, Craig Green, J.W. Anderson, to name just a few - who've kept eyes focused on London via the MAN talent support programme. Topman did so on day one of the schedule with a cavernous exhibition, held on Brick Lane that featured work by a range of 'young creatives' - the kind who consider a place on the Dazed 100 a coup.
It's right though that Topman sought to commemorate the anniversary not by pushing their own wares too heavily - though there was both an 'old' collection on offer to buy (featuring archive Topman prints reworked onto t-shirts and sweaters) and a new one to peruse, tacked on subtly - but by celebrating new blood, as has always been their role at LFWM. They commissioned five young talents to make films and stills. The presentations loosely seemed to deal with masculinity, a deep topic worthy of exploration given current mental health crises amongst young men. Here it was handled with a lighter, more Instagram-friendly touch. The amusingly named The Rhythm Method, a music duo with plenty of nostalgic spirit, showed a film that celebrated salad cream and British teatime. Upcoming gay poet Max Wallis offered something more sexy - videos of hot boys mouthing 'I love you man.'
And what about the clothes? Well, they too showed an appreciation of the ideas of others. The tailoring showed the influence of some of the bright young things reinterpretting tailoring for a cool young crowd - see John Skelton or Charles Jeffrey. As always nostalgia reigned supreme. This time we were rewinding to the eighties, when club culture and its link to fashion put London on the international style map - think Vivienne Westwood, BodyMap, Stephen Linard. I thought of the Blitz kids and the New Romantics - London scenes that helped define the character of our city's creative arts. I thought of the birth of the style magazines. In this smorgasbord of references and borrowed ideas Topman offered an uplifting story about what makes London great.