High street icon Topman aims at “changing the perspective” of menswear with a different way of showing their collection.
Spring 2018 marked the fifth anniversary of London Fashion Week Men’s as well as an enduring shift in the fashion industry of going beyond your classic runway show or presentation. Last Sunday, Band of Outsiders’ Daniel Hettmann and Angelo Van Mol set their presentation at London’s Top Secret Comedy Club, where Alistair Williams, Mo Gilligan, Elliot Steel all performed on stage wearing a selection of looks from the brand’s Spring 2018 collection. While all performers were hilarious and the format an innovative one, it proved tricky to recall with absolute clarity the pieces that had just been presented to us. “So, are we stuck forever with the usual catwalk shows and presentation?” you ask. Not in the slightest, let alone if more brands start offering more of the kind of experience that Topman Design did to present their latest collection. After staging fashion shows for the past ten years, Topman proposed an immersive exhibition with five collaborators and five films in East London’s Old Truman Brewery. Entitled “Transition”, the project took you on a journey to discover “the new breed of men”. Starting with Nick Offord’s “I Heard You Were The Designer”, one is taken through a series of photographs and a film telling the story of four friends and their struggles in today’s society. It acts as a touching homage to male friendship and how it helps men “override and live their lives”.
With “We Are Venn”, photographer Campbell Addy and illustrator King Owusu tell the story of “someone who is trying to achieve a life they believe isn’t made for them”. The film explores the realities of British citizenship in an immersive environment that illustrates what it is like to be a young British male today.
Poet Max Wallis presented one of the most haunting pieces of the project with “I Love You Man”, filming men across all forms of masculinity in life and showing them saying “I love you, man” to the camera. Presented on multiple screens playing simultaneously, the echo makes it sound like those men are talking to each other and revealing their own vulnerability.
Other installations included Ben Cullen Williams’s “Half Light” which focuses on the aesthetics of rave culture and how this new generation communicates more through body language than words and how “relationships can form without speaking”, as well as “Salad Cream” by London duo The Rhythm Method.
The experience eventually led to the discovery of Topman Design’s Spring 2018 collection in the last room where the clique of “Modern Romantics” was standing.
With its retro-futuristic approach, the very 80’s collection featured Bowie-inspired trousers, a silver bacofoil leather biker jacket, as well as tracksuits referencing the work of Robert Rauschenberg.