Made in Bangladesh
Rahemur Rahman’s chat is rapid. He has a lot of ideas and talks quickly to cram them all in. Hailed as a breakout star from London fashion week men’s, his naturally dyed, organic fabrics, and the jackets and trousers he tailors them into, are winning the 28-year-old fans from the UK to LA.
Rahman’s road hasn’t always run smoothly. At school, he felt like a misfit: “They all came from a Bangladeshi community and I grew up in Millwall [where his parents settled when they came from Bangladesh in the 80s], which was predominantly white.”
He found his way to Central Saint Martins via a youth arts organisation, and at first his work “rarely touched on my culture”, inspired instead by “the London scene I grew up in – grime music, the contrast between rich and poor in Canary Wharf, the history of Brick Lane and tailoring”. But when Rana Plaza happened, Rahman had “an awakening” and became set on creating designs that spoke to the craft and heritage of his parents’ homeland. Inspiration comes from the mishmash that is his dad’s personal style, with a colour palette taken from old family photographs.
Last year, he took his first ever trip to Dhaka – “I was like, mind blown,” he says. He now markets his brand as made in Bangladesh: “The textiles are made there and I’m made there, too.” EVB
The big easy
Serena Bute’s louche clothes may be airport style goals, but people will, she hopes, “do more than travel in them. Go to lunch, to yoga, dress them up for dinner.” Versatility and ease are key to an eponymous collection that can be worn by Bute, by her kids, her mother and, of course, by you. EVB
Patchworks at Coach
Sometimes the finest ideas are staring you in the face – something certainly true of Coach creative director Stuart Vevers’ AW19 stimuli. He was inspired to work with legendary textile designer Kaffe Fassett when he plucked one of Fassett’s books from his shelf. “The best collaborations are the ones that are personal, with great creatives who bring something different to the table,” enthuses Vevers, who incorporated Fassett’s colour-pop prints and patchworked blooms into leather donkey coats, dipped-hem dresses and Lurex sweaters. With both men influenced by the American west coast, the juxtaposition of homespun and haute results in a textural feast. SC
Hail, hail rock’n’roll
Bottega Veneta’s creative director Daniel Lee is to 2019 what Gucci’s Alessandro Michele was to 2016. If that doesn’t mean much to you, suffice to say he’s this year’s most hyped man in fashion. The 32-year-old Brit, a former Phoebe Philo protege at Celine, started the year by teasing an ad campaign that saw Philo worshippers immediately herald him as the natural successor to her understated minimalism. For autumn, however, he confounded expectations with a collection that combined men’s and womenswear, and added far more rock’n’roll swagger than the upscale normcore look Philo fans would have expected. Tailored pencil dresses, motorbike trousers and belted, oversized coats came in leather of all finishes – from a cushioned version of the label’s signature Intrecciato weave to an open loop design similar to chainmail. The shoes and the bags were instant hits.
“I haven’t felt like this in years!” said influencer and shoe enthusiast Sandra Hagelstam on her Instagram account as she posted a picture of five box-fresh pairs of slip-on square-toe heels. The outerwear items will no doubt be hit items when temperatures drop. With waiting lists already amassed for much of this inaugural collection, let the Lee effect commence. SC
What every modern human wants
Nanushka has won over its female fanbase with its vegan leather and super-sleek silhouettes, but this season it’s widening its horizon to menswear. “It was always there in the back of my mind,” says Sandra Sandor, who founded the Budapest-based brand in 2006. “I was just waiting for the right time to launch it.” The transition should be a smooth one: the cut of signature pieces has always been unisex, and a recent overhaul has seen Nanushka enjoy the hype of a new label, with Yara Shahidi, Sienna Miller and Hailey Bieber all fans.
Echoing its promise to deliver “a modern, versatile, day-to-night wardrobe for the modern human”, Sandor says she wants “to explore the fluid relationship between men and women, creating a genderless wardrobe with pieces that are beautiful but functional”. The new collection features relaxed suiting, workwear-inspired shackets and a good line in wide-leg trousers, peppered with paisley prints and a pastel palette. “Inclusive and effortlessly modern is the best way to describe it,” Sandor says. SC
New womenswear brand Ssōne puts an emphasis on organic cottons, reduced water usage and the “humanitarian side of working in fashion”. It is important to founder Caroline Smithson that as much work by hand as possible goes into the brand’s clothes – but that it doesn’t come across “too make-your-own-yoghurt”.
Shunning the seasonal model, Ssōne instead hopes to develop a kind of uniform. The aesthetic is utilitarian with moments of romance – Smithson is inspired by 70s feminists “who were super-glamorous, but wearing overalls and picketing”. And designers may well use their leftovers on their clothes: one jumper has been naturally dyed using everything from foraged nettles to avocado stones from the team’s lunches. It looks good enough to eat. EVB
Nigeria, Naomi and more
When Naomi Campbell walked in little-known Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize’s AW19 show, he was little known no longer. “Everything is always Naomi’s idea,” Ize says. “We love her for her support.”
The attention, if sudden, is a long time coming. Lagos-based Ize (pronounced e-zay) has been honing his craft since he started his eponymous menswear brand in 2015 after studying at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna under Bernhard Willhelm and Hussein Chalayan. Championing Nigerian craftsmanship, Ize uses local weavers to make the fabric for his multicoloured suiting, hoping to redefine luxury and shine a light on the country.
“There is an increased awareness of the nuances of Nigerian fashion,” says Ize, who caught the eye of this year’s Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) prize judges. “Younger designers are finding ways of reinterpreting this heritage and increasing its exposure, and I am very excited to be part of it.” SC
Heaven for leather
Effortless, intelligent, liberated, political, sexual: that’s how Lulu Kennedy, founder of new talent initiative Fashion East, describes designer Mowalola Ogunlesi. Let us add one more: brave. In the last year, the Nigerian-born, Surrey-raised designer left Central Saint Martins mid-MA to get to the frontline of fashion her own way, designing clothes for Skepta to wear in a video and kitting out the likes of the Nigerian football team after gaining notoriety with her BA collection.
The Mowalola brand celebrates what the designer has called “fluid masculinity”, with hand-painted leathers her MO. No wonder Kennedy nabbed her for Fashion East’s AW19 show – Ogunlesi’s catwalk debut. “Her singular vision comes from her heart,” Kennedy says. “She’s the punk queen and inspiration we all need.” SC
Real life, but better
What do you get when one of fashion’s favourite style curators teams up with a brilliant business brain and a talented designer? Deveaux New York. Not to be confused with the world’s oldest leather goods brand Delvaux, the label, founded by Matthew Breen and Andrea Tsao in 2016, brought street-style photographer Tommy Ton on board as creative director in 2018. Ton’s photography was a major instigator of the fashion industry’s current obsession with street style, so who better to consult on what the brand calls “street style reimagined”?
The result – a mix of cashmere crew-neck jumpers, double placket shirts and tailored “architect trousers” – pricked the interest of matchesfashion.com which is stocking the brand for AW19. “The team have told me how they always consider the ‘real life’ factor – they wear the samples to see if they work on the morning commute and they’ll wash pieces, walk their dogs in them and so on,” says Damien Paul, head of menswear. “This allows them to develop a fairly minimal aesthetic but create best-in-class product.” SC
In the club
You, like 994k people on Instagram, might well have heard of Peggy Gou – the South Korean DJ sensation who plays to sell-out crowds from Berlin to Rimini – but for music, rather than fashion. This season sees Gou branch out and launch her clothing label Kirin, named after the Japanese word for her favourite animal, the giraffe. All head-to-toe prints, athleisure accents and jolty colour palettes, it was launched at Paris fashion week in February and smacks of the energy she emits from the DJ box – as well as what she herself wears for those gigs.
“Peggy’s own style embodies the mood and direction our customer is interested in right now,” says Sebastian Manes, buying and merchandising director at Selfridges, where Kirin is stocked for AW19. Like Gou’s career up till now, the brand is set to go stratospheric. This is partly thanks to a deal with New Guards Group, the conglomerate that launched Virgil Abloh’s Off-White, among others. Kirin came into being after the New Guards founders approached Gou at – where else? – a gig. It’s this connection to the party scene that Manes says makes Kirin more than a celebrity label. “[She] is uniquely placed to bring together club culture and high fashion through design [as well as] a global perspective and network.” SC
Bellissima! Italy’s fashion gets real
The Italian look – either power dressing or power glamour, right? Not any more. A new generation are finding their power by revisiting traditional craftsmanship and adopting a more conscious approach.
In Milan, Sunnei designers Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo use their brand to bring together creative communities (its last menswear show was staged in an urban regeneration project it funded on the outskirts of Milan), working with artists, musicians and charities on its critically acclaimed collections. Further south, Giuliva Heritage Collection, run by husband and wife Margherita Cardelli and Gerardo Cavaliere, champions the lost art of traditional Italian tailoring, designed from Rome, where they will open their first shop next month. “Special talents need to be nurtured as they define a nation,” Cardelli says. “It’s our duty to keep alive this great Italian talent.”
Meanwhile the collective Legres, launching on matchesfashion.com this month, is using Italian craftsmen and women to create its “minimalist nonconformist” footwear.
The common thread with this Italian new wave? Authenticity. “Being totally transparent is something truly inspirational,” Cardelli says.“Our approach to life reflects what we do.” SC