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October 19, 2017
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Burberry: among the few established labels represented at London Collections: Men. Source: morefashionable.com.

Given the relative dearth of menswear coverage in the media, being a man interested in menswear can sometimes be a bit frustrating. It's not that men aren't interested in women's fashion, we just aren't going to slap on a Balenciaga dress to go out for the evening. And so, a slight disconnect exists when you can't wear any of the pieces you're reading about - unless, maybe, you're Andre Leon Tally.

St.James Palace, buildings, UK, England, Britain
St. James Palace is site of the opening Gala.
Source: royal.gov.uk.

The past few seasons, however, have seen an influx of menswear designers (such as Rad Hourani, Xander Zhou and RAKE), an increase in international menswear sales and the christening of fashion events geared solely towards men's apparel. 

One such event is London Collections: Men (LCM), which will be held for the first time over three days in June. Hosted by the British Fashion Council, the event aims to expose UK fashion writers, retailers and an international audience to upcoming and established British menswear design. With a stacked list of over 60 menswear designers showing off what they do best in showrooms across London, it appears the event is well-positioned to have a strong launch.

LCM will run from June 15-17, with the opening gala to be held on June 14, hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales at St James's Palace. Both the Royal House and London's City Hall are involved in the festivities, as well as an esteemed 24-member overseeing committee that includes Tom Ford, Burberry's Christopher Bailey, Dylan Jones and Jo Levin (GQ), Alex Bilmes (Esquire), Gordon Richardson (TOPMAN) and Jeremy Langmead (MR PORTER).

Brands already at the top of London Fashion Week's docket may be a bit wary of a project still in its early stages of development.

In addition to LCM, an upswing in international fashion economies (Sweden, China, Japan, etc.) has opened the watersheds of menswear tailoring and design. But, let's be frank: it's certainly not a floodgate, yet. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to see such big developments on international men's runways, especially with LCM backed by high profile names such as Ford, Bailey and, oh yes, The Royal Family.

Despite the few high profile labels on the LCM roster, such as Hackett, Christopher Kane, Burberry, Jonathan Saunders and Pringle of Scotland, LCM appears to be championing the local, independent designer, and less focused on well-established brands than it's London Fashion Week counterpart. It's difficult to gauge whether the local flavour will change in future seasons, given direct sponsorship from TOPMAN and MR PORTER, along with the high levels of engagement from TOPMAN's mentorship programs, MAN and NEWGEN MEN.

Brands already at the top of London Fashion Week's docket may be a bit wary of a project still in its early stages of development. While it is exciting to see the youthful approach that LCM has taken in its first attempt, organisers will very quickly have to decide whether the "indie angle" will inhibit the catwalk participation of established labels. The direction it chooses will hang on the aftermath of this first go-around. If LCM garners enough support, it could double in size by next season, allowing for larger houses to run their events alongside the independents.

Topman, fashion, menswear, blazer, collar, cuffs
TOPMAN is one of LCM's major sponsors.
Source: the189.com.

With Milan and Paris already running mens fashion weeks, London is the latest style hub to indoctrinate the model into the forefront of its fashion facades. It's only a matter of time before New York follows suit. And then, there is Stockholm. With the amount of sartorial steam the Nordic capital has been picking up recently, which fashion hub will create its own dedicated menswear event first?

Stockholm Fashion Week is an apt comparison for LCM, as it is still small enough - when compared to Paris, Milan, and London - to be almost entirely localised. Featuring mostly up-and-coming Swedish designers (just as LCM does for British designers, albeit for menswear), the local talent brings with it youthful vigor - or perhaps inexperience. Young designers in both Stockholm and London who have managed to get on the runway have the unique opportunity to solidify their market positions, as well as growing alongside these events.

With the kick-off of LCM, one wonders what will happen to the men's showing at London Fashion Week (LFW). Since 2009, LFW had attempted to place a greater emphasis on menswear by creating a menswear-only day on the last date of LFW. However, the day clashed with the first day of Milan Fashion Week, and needless to say, the turnout has been less than hoped for. Last LFW may have been the final go for the men's-only day, allowing for a stronger push from LCM.

With any luck, LCM will experience healthy growth over the next few years, to the point where the fashion heavyweights involved in LFW will be showing at LCM. I'm most interested in observing how well it is covered versus the more established menswear events and whether or not LCM will gain international traction. 

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