As with all hype, it’s hard to believe June was only the fifth season of London Collections: Men, that menswear in the UK had been awarded such a platform for only two years.
While those early Sunday starts pull just a handful of society – industry figures only, the blogger-cum-bored teenager types have yet to start hanging around outside – it’s these guys and girls whose opinions inform what goes into stores, what we buy and ultimately, how men dress.
At Harvey Nichols, the team has sat up and listened, both to what they’ve seen on the catwalk and what they’ve witnessed in that pub next door, as well as what caught their eye on Instagram as they sat waiting for the zillionth late show of the day.
And last week they put the knowledge into a new look Menswear Contemporary floor, the 3,175 sq ft space downstairs in the brand’s Knightsbridge branch, introducing 22 new labels to the suitably dressed rails.
Amongst this batch of newbies – which includes Whistles' debut men’s line, A.P.C., CMMN SWDN and Blood Brother – are seven UK exclusives: Monica Monroe, Fear of God, Long Journey, MHRS, Pyer Moss, VFiles Sport + and Trapstar Red Line.
Clash grabbed five with Menswear Buyer Reece Crisp, to learn exactly what it all means.
Why is now the right time for such a shake up?
It felt like a natural progression. We had a few of the brands in the mix but wanted to develop those and add a point of difference by including lots of UK exclusives.
How did you select which brands would make the cut?
Lots of travel, probably the most I have ever done, and lots of appointments. As a buyer, the more you see, the more informed you can be as to the direction in which to take things. Also, Instagram and blogs have become a key factor in sourcing product and we have actually picked a few up without leaving the office.
What makes Harvey Nichols Menswear Contemporary department better than the rest?
The exclusivity with the brands we have partnered with, and the diversity of the mix. The new brands we have introduced range from the well known, such as A.P.C., and Y3, to talents of the future just starting out, such as Fear of God and Pyer Moss. With the new mix, we have tried to reach a new customer, but also satisfy our current loyal crop.
Tell me about those UK exclusives.
With the competition also heading in this direction, it is important to have a USP, not only in the edit of the range, but also in the brand mix. At Harvey Nichols we work hard on securing exclusives as this is a great way of achieving this.
Is there a specific brand you're most excited about, or think will do particularly well?
Fear of God has had an amazing impact and is going to go from strength to strength. Y3 continues its resurgence, and with all the collaborations adidas are involved with right now, it is a great time for them. AND Whistles in its first season is only going to get better.
Why is menswear so exciting today?
The reactive nature of customers to trends and the lack of resistance to experiment. Men are now not just wearing logos to show they are in the right stuff, but are happy to layer and experiment with fabrications.
To celebrate the department’s new look, takeovers from VFiles Sport +, Monica Monroe, Trapstar Red Line and MHRS will sees the brands present installations and pop-ups across the space.