Vancouver Fashion Week’s 27th season is now over and Candid has the low-down on the top six menswear designers that you should know. Taking up residence at the Chinese Cultural Center in Vancouver’s Shoreditch equivalent: Gastown, acid colours, androgynous silhouettes and a commendation to Britain’s Tesco all factored in to a central theme that says autumn/winter 2016 is going to be fun. Our top picks come far and wide with designers from Vancouver to Berlin, Taiwan, Buenos Aires and London all on the lineup.
Vancouver-based Alex S. Yu is the Canadian designer on every editor’s lips, so everyone was present and accounted for at the debut of his first menswear collection (he’s been showing womenswear for several seasons). Yu trained at London College of Fashion and after working with the likes of Simone Rocha, he headed back to Vancouver to create his eponymous label. An Alex S. Yu piece is immediately recogniseable for it’s use of quirky, contrasting fabrics; playful, nostalgia-induced colours and both exaggerated and restrictive tailoring – think fantasy-hewn, contemporary streetwear, erring on the side of luxury. The autumn/winter collection, called ‘The Artificial Promise’ goes political and represents the people vs. big government. Sublimated messaging throughout the range bids us to ask the question, “Are we really as free as we think we are?”
London was undeniably calling when Bethany Williams’ collection ‘Breadline’ made its VFW debut. Exaggerated hoodies made from upcycled patchwork denim, woven raffia jackets, printed boiler suits and a t-shirt emblazoned with meat and the words ‘Tesco Everyday Value’ made us feel like we were back at London Collections Men and hitting the supermarket in between shows. But Bethany aimed to take her message further afield and ‘Breadline’ has goals. Bethany wants to highlight and help solve hunger in the UK. The brand has developed an exchange of fresh fruit and vegetables with Tesco and will be donating 30% of profits to The Vauxhall Food Bank. And did we mention the hair? It was our favourite of the VFW menswear shows.
Argentina’s L A T, designed by Marangoni-trained Laurtaro Amedeo Tambutto is inspired by “Latin American history and its idiosyncrasies”. Ancestral elements and traditions are blended with global influences, sportswear (or athleisure as we’re all calling it now), tribal notions and streetwear. The result is a strong signature of tailored leather jackets; loose-fitting pinstriped wool trousers and masculine fur coats offset by mesh shirting. The models on this runway get extra gold stars for attitude and the use of moon boots made for a great styling element too.
Canadian designer Fiaz Lalani showed his second collection, ‘Obesession’ under his brand Encima on the VFW catwalk. Loose tailoring and draped knitwear were intentionally used to craft a collection that could be worn any time of day or night. Water-repellent (this is Vancouver after all and rain is aplenty) organic cotton and Tencel featured in tonal hues for prime interchangeability.
Hailing from Berlin, Danny Reinke is fast becoming known for his handcrafted designs and childhood inspiration (which was growing up in a fishing village). His autumn/winter collection was literally like a dream sewn together in pastels. Embroidered birds on a jumpsuit; a wispy, yellow tulle top and a t-shirt with its own attached teddy bear were standouts for us, and liberal use of Peter Pan collars most certainly made this a collection for the boys who refuse to grow up.
Angus Chiang’s collection made us smile and it was apparently based on Taiwanese culture. If this is what Taiwan is all about, we definitely want to go, but we could also see ourselves wearing this collection to scout out new systems in the outer reaches of the universe. Humour and Taiwanese street performance were at the base of the range, layered with an overtly feminine silhouette topped with graphic Velcro trimmings, neon-branded badges and galactic imagery. The styling is what took the show to the outer reaches with what we’re calling ‘clown-of-the-future shoes’ and huge, floral ear adornments in bright red, pastel pink and deep space black.
Words by Courtney Blackman