LONDON – The three-day summer edition of London Fashion Week begins on Friday and the hybrid physical and digital calendar will see more than 30 brands release their new collections.
The absence of the usual big names means emerging brands are getting more attention. Here, WWD spotlights four promising newcomers making their London Fashion Week debut.
Brandon Choi is ready for his solo debut with DiscoveryLab on Saturday. The half-French, half-Chinese designer from Portsmouth wants to bring a different perspective to the world of haute couture.
“My work addresses important topics in society such as sustainability, community and craftsmanship and has elements of elegant simplicity mixed with a rawer, more maximalist energy,” Choi said.
The fall 2022 collection that will be presented is based on its graduate collection, with three new pieces added.
“Much of the themes are a continued exploration of humble materials such as cardboard, paper and calico, and the silhouettes continue to reference materials familiar from the golden age of haute couture,” explained Choi, adding that her brand essentially explores “how human sensibility and the ritual craftsmanship of couture come together, in an offering of process-guided construction and deconstruction and the pursuit of unexpected beauty.
For Choi, who had a very creative upbringing and worked at places like Aganovich, Viktor & Rolf and Vivienne Westwood, fashion is an extension of sculpture, but one that people can wear and live with.
“It can change our posture, evoke emotions and ultimately alter our appearance. Growing up, I was always fascinated by fashion and all the wonderful women in my large extended family, especially my mother’s sense of style. Style and clothing discussions have always been part of the conversation in my house,” he added.
Going forward, Choi hopes to take a slow approach with his eponymous label.
“I’m not in a hurry and I want to take my time to create. Explore more ideas and techniques and work within my abilities. For starters, I’d like to work on custom pieces and orders for clients, as well as do consulting and other collaborative projects,” he said. — Tianwei Zhang
The design duo, Adémidé Udoma and Diallo Nehimiah Hasmat-AIi, behind London-based label ABAGA Velli, began working together in 2019, and that relationship blossomed into creating a label together that united their appreciation of the African Diaspora.
“We felt a lot of the diaspora-led brands were great in their own way, but sometimes the attention to detail was lacking compared to the focus on hype,” said Udoma, who comes from a sewing center. “For us, we always wanted to build something that was based purely on the attention to detail culture and storytelling, rather than the streetwear-hype type of approach,” Udoma said.
He credits designer Michael Browne for showing him the ropes. Browne has his own eponymous label and was the former cutter for Chittleborough & Morgan.
Their first collection, titled “All Roads Lead to the Horn”, is a tribute to growing up in an African home. Udoma often accompanied her mother to the tailor for wedding clothes: “My mother’s tailor is not necessarily seen as a luxury in Nigerian culture, it’s more of a feature, whereas in England it’s a big problem to have your own personal tailor. ”
While the collection draws inspiration from the African diaspora, the brand has eschewed the use of wax prints focusing on tailoring and utilitarian style pieces for a street attitude attribute. Udoma loves the denim wrap jacket the most for sentimental reasons, as it was one of the first pieces he ever designed.
The designer duo worked with sustainability-approved fabric mills to source materials, regularly using denim, seersucker and cotton from Japan for garments. “The price is a little higher because of that, but it’s something that’s close to my heart rather than just lowering the price,” he explains, revealing that all of the buttons used in the collection are recycled. .
Udoma directed and wrote a film around the collection featuring musicians Mink and John Glacier. The short uses excerpts from Brazilian critical thinker Paulo Freire on education. “Education is as much about the student teaching the teacher as it is about the teacher teaching the student,” he said, comparing his love for clothes to the tailors he met over time and who have taught him new things. — Hikmat Mohammad
For London designer Carlota Barrera, her first show at London Fashion Week is dedicated to her favorite country, Cuba.
“I’ve traveled there over the years because my parents have a close relationship with it and the location of their honeymoon,” she explained.
Barrera drew inspiration from the streets of Cuba for the fabrics and color combinations used in the collection. “I used yellow and brown, which can look like an old man, but it can also be very fresh and modern,” she said, revealing that it was personal for her because she saw the country from an insider’s perspective rather than through the eyes of a tourist.
This season, she ditched her signature muted colors for bold colors in blue, white and emerald green that are used in many buildings in Cuba. At the same time, she sourced unsold fabrics from Italy and Spain for the collection with an emphasis on linen, a summer fabric commonly worn in Cuba.
The collection’s getaway looks are Barrera’s summer take on denim jackets in a linen trompe l’oeil. Other pieces include digitized imprints of seaweed and water bottle caps she scavenged from the sea. “It’s about doing something beautiful, but at the same time saying, is the ocean now, do we really want this?” she says.
Barrera’s best-sellers are her intricately cut-out tank tops that play on male sexuality that she has produced since her MA collection at London College of Fashion in 2018. She has continued to incorporate them into her tailored blazers and tuxedo shirts. “For me, it’s very special and it’s just wonderful to be able to continue making them in different colors,” she added. — SM
With sexy corset tank tops and a maxi jersey dress from the world of ‘Dune’, London-based Chinese fashion designer Sans Peng knows what east London revelers are raving about.
Aspiring to encourage inclusivity in fashion and showcase sustainable practices, Peng founded her eponymous gender-fluid brand in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drawing inspiration from her own queer cross-cultural experience, her Spring 2023 collection, which will be released digitally with DiscoveryLab on Saturday, is a cultural study of her hometown, Shenzhen, in the 1980s and 1990s, when the small fishing village began its transformation to become one of the most advanced metropolises in China.
“You can see a lot of sporty elements, wide legs and tight-waisted figures, which is like a microcosm of the particular era and geographical location I was born in. Shenzhen was subtly influenced by the Hong Kong pop music at the time. Those classic elements of the year are still cutting edge for me today,” he said.
For the digital storefront, he created an additional series of shoppable pieces with upcycled fabrics and high-end deadstock.
After launching the avant-garde shoe brand Untitlab, Peng said with his own brand that he wanted to focus more on combining his attention to detail and his obsession with craftsmanship, as well as “influencing more people to love each other and to love nature”. — TZ
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