This week, Newgen Men, the British Fashion Council and Topshop-sponsored young designer initiative that provides London-based menswear talents with mentorship, financial support, and a platform to showcase their collections, announced its list of recipients for fall/winter 2013. Launched in 2010 under the Newgen umbrella – the women’s division of which has supported the likes of Mary Katrantzou, Christopher Kane, and Jonathan Saunders – Newgen Men has awarded sponsorship to eight up-and-coming talents. Christopher Raeburn, Shaun Samson, Lee Roach, and Sibling have all been awarded catwalk sponsorship. Martine Rose and Matthew Miller have earned presentation sponsorship and Bunney and William Richard Green will show their collections in the exhibition format.
Indeed, Newgen Men has championed a unique group of designers for its FW13 shows, which, running from January 7-9, will mark only the second season for London’s men’s fashion week, formally known as London Collections: Men (in years past, London’s menswear designers showed the day after the women’s ready-to-wear collections wrapped). Raeburn, a Newgen veteran and 2011 British Fashion Award winner, has gained international success with his ethical, British-made designs and garments crafted from re-appropriated military materials. Shaun Samson impressed when he showed his new-age grunge looks during last season’s Men show, a joint effort between Fashion East and Topshop. And Sibling, a quirky London favorite designed by Sid Bryan, Joe Bates, and Cozette McCreery, has garnered a cult following with their tongue-in-cheek men’s knits (think panda sweaters with matching fur-topped masks, fair isle jackets and gilded jumpsuits). Lee Roach brings a clean, minimal aesthetic to the mix and Matthew Miller has, in the past, shown smart, English tailoring mixed with punchy prints. “Each of these names brings a very distinct aesthetic to mind, all radically different,” said Style.com’s Tim Blanks, who serves on the British Fashion Council’s Menswear committee, in a press release. “But if I had to tease out a common thread, I’d say it was unconventionality. I know the very idea is a London cliché, but when you see the fully realized way that Newgen’s winners challenge the ordinary, the cliché becomes something impressively intelligent and vital.”
Last London men’s week was an interesting one. There’s unique balance between the city’s historic Savile Row tailoring and its vibrant, often rebellious young designers. However, one must question how London’s men’s week (which actually lasts three days) will fit into the international fashion schedule. In the past few years, the pre-fall and resort seasons, both of which were once afterthoughts shown to editors in intimate salon presentations or press appointments, have gained momentum. These transitional seasons have proven to be big moneymakers for brands and are now an essential part of the fashion schedule — both from a market and fashion-show standpoint. But with many editors now having to attend resort and pre-fall shows, as well as the bi-annual men’s and women’s ready-to-wear collections and couture, the schedule is getting a little manic, to say the least. So one must wonder if London’s second men’s week, which will come just after pre-fall and before Milan’s men’s shows and Paris Haute Couture, will be able to attract international editors and hold its own. With any luck, menswear editors and buyers will rise to the challenge, as London’s talent pool is an exciting one. But it will certainly have to fight for its place on the over-stuffed fashion calendar.