Don’t mistake him for the Sheffield United footballer who bears the same name. In the context of fashion, Ben Osborn is a Royal College of Art graduate who will be presenting his spring 2022 collection at London Fashion Week: Discovery Lab on Monday.
Construction, materiality and proportion are three keywords for the brand. The designer said he aims to create a certain feeling through combinations of surfaces and forms that move in a particular way.
“I generate ideas through making and material sourcing with the aim of creating products that are very focused, without too many peripheral elements. In terms of process, I have quite a technical approach. I like things to have a sense of reality, with an ease that feels believable,” he said.
As a men’s wear designer, Osborn said he is often considering the idea of masculinity, recognizing certain aspects which feel excluded. He is drawn to things that feel fragile, or form around the body in a certain way.
For the new collection, Osborn found inspiration from furniture, protective uniforms and historical tailoring, and explored the idea of “a portable environment.”
“Over the past year, I’ve been considering domestic spaces, forming connections with your direct environment, the combination of clothes that feel intimate, and the behavior you have in a personal space. I like the fact that we are now starting to return to more public situations, so I’m drawn to the idea that you could carry this quite intimate sense of personal space around with you,” he said.
The collection features both constructed and unconstructed shapes made with resistant materials, like waxed linen, proofed cotton, and canvases he sourced in the U.K, and combined with more intimate materials like soft cotton shirting fabrics from Italy and hand-knit sweaters in cotton yarn.
As a young brand, Osborn is open to collaborations with a larger company for scale or with an individual or a small team in a more intimate way. He is also considering a more flexible option for consumers, such as the possibility for made-to-order, limited runs and archived styles.
“I like the idea that a consumer can be involved more in the creative process,” he said.
The Lancaster-based contemporary label LYPH, which stands for Live Young Play Hard, is founded by Frederick Edmondson, the creative director of Chinese sportswear giant Li-Ning, who oversees European special lines for the group along with collaborative partnerships for Hong Kong fast-fashion brand Bossini.
Edmondson told WWD that he started LYPH after in the fashion business for over 12 years because he wanted to create a brand “with attitude and bravery,” and a brand that “doesn’t start its point of reference from safe thinking ideas.”
He added that “artistic references and downright crazy thinking” tend to be the starting point for his design for LYPH.
For the spring 2022 collection, Edmondson goes back to the past and reflects on what got him into the arts in the first place, which included “teenage movies that inspired, music tours that pushed boundaries and art direction that paved a way” for him to create, such as the Bob Dylans 1975 tour “Rolling Thunder,” cult films like Terry Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Tony Scott’s “True Romance” and David Lynch movies.
He described the result as “an idea of chaos for that new forward-thinking society” and “the strange meets the pretty,” where tracksuits are made with upcycled surplus layered with animal print and penny loafers decorated with kid’s recycled beads.
The designer confessed that without the knowledge and information that he gained from working with large international companies like Li-Ning, he wouldn’t be able to build LYPH as quickly as he did.
“Working with the Li-Ning group is amazing,” he said. “The resource and development techniques they have are very forward-thinking. It’s nice to be working with Chinese factories again. The attention to detail and development skill set that Li-Ning factories have means we are able to design products LYPH would not normally be able to produce due to the size of my business.”
Looking forward, LYPH is working on a deal for a major collaboration, as well as expanding its footprints in China, Europe, and the U.S. The brand is also keen to return to the physical format next season with a much bigger fall 2022 collection if the pandemic is under control.
Founded by Central Saint Martins graduate Samson Shek Yen Leung, the London-based label aims to pursue “altruism and honesty through acceptance of imperfection in artisanal craftsmanship and subtle details.” His personal goal with the brand is to “elevate the standard of Asian craftsmanship and talents.”
“I often describe my work as ‘quiet masculinity,’ imagining that the handcrafted elements in my pieces express a sense of discreet sensuality that is poetic and subtle,” he said. “My creations are not about being loud, flashy and extravagant; instead, I focus on evoking and celebrating emotions that my audience can relate to.”
For the spring 2022 collection “Gentle Living,” which was inspired by artworks from Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi, Leung said he is making clothes for the gentle, sensitive and quiet ones, who are willing to embrace their vulnerability with confidence and have an appreciation for handmade craftsmanship.
He presented his interpretation in the form of landscape painting on his self-developed fabric, which in traditional Chinese fine art is how one expresses oneself.
While the pandemic has been challenging, Leung is determined to make the brand work. “I don’t think there’s ever a definite right or wrong time to start a brand. A good brand should be able to adapt to various circumstances — that is something I learned from being at Central Saint Martins for almost seven years,” he said.
“With COVID-19, sourcing and production have been difficult so the majority of what I create now will be made to order and working with small wholesale orders. But hopefully, down the line, I’ll be able to scale it up and showcase my brand in other places such as Shanghai or Paris,” he added.
Swedish Malaysian designer Azura Lovisa is expanding her eco-conscious slow fashion brand into ready-to-wear from made-to-order with the release of a 10-minute video “Moment, Momentum” in collaboration with South London record label Touching Bass during the June edition of London Fashion Week.
The brand will offer a see now, buy now capsule that features classic styles in new colors and launch a small run of handmade jewelry inspired by Southeast Asian shamanism, created in collaboration with jewelry designers Tanaporn Wongsa and Birgit Frietman.
Lovisa said she launched her brand because she “felt an urgent need for richer, more inclusive narratives that attested to the fluidity and depth of aesthetic heritage from other parts of the world,” as she experienced a lack of nuanced exposure to non-Western cultures during her education at Central Saint Martins.
“I look to non-Western aesthetic heritage as the starting point for a reevaluation of what fashion history and thus fashion futures can be,” she said. “I’m motivated by a drive to explore my own mixed heritage and to interpret the exciting, unpredictable things that occur at junctions and seams of culture. I wanted to carry forward through my work the power of possibilities that arise from the collision and fusion of multicultural influences.”
The designer added that the brand wants to eventually grow into a design house “anchored in the world of fashion and extending into film, writing and publishing, art exhibitions, curation and programming, other areas of design, and social missions — all unified and guided by the brand’s ethos,” while strengthening relationships with craftspeople and handweaving communities in South and Southeast Asia and working with socially responsible creative initiatives that provide autonomy and support to the makers.
“We deliver language of equality and acceptance,” said designer Mayya Agayeva, founder of her sustainable unisex gender-fluid label. She launched her brand in 2020 after graduating from the Royal College of Art.
“When I was a kid, I loved painting with oil and sculpting. Eventually, I went to university to study architecture, but then I decided to change to fashion. It was all a very organic change for me. I believe any visual and 3D art are related. I feel like the creative process is a loop where, in the end, you come back to where you started,” she said.
Now she often looks at her childhood and architecture for forms and finds inspirations from social taboos.
“My design continually evolves through the contrast of masculine and feminine. I perceive reality through the relationship between social norms and a post-modern dystopia based on the philosophy of sustainable design,” the designer added.
For spring 2022, Agayeva focused on multiple sizes and silhouette shifting garments made from deadstock and recycled fabrics.
“The clothing can change shape to fit the narrative of the person who wears it. It can be worn by people of different sizes, shapes, and genders,” she said.
For the remainder of 2021, Agayeva said she is looking to collaborate with artists, poets and filmmakers to create more “beautiful, sustainable and ageless garments.”
Men’s wear designer Paolo Carzana will make his London Fashion Week debut with the spring 2022 collection called “Another World.”
This Central Saint Martins graduate said his new collection “very much focuses on an alternative gesture to the world today,” and is “an acknowledgment of all that is painful in such a divided world and working through it to arrive at a place where a focus can be on the wonderful.”
He used antique deadstock ties bought from Portobello Market years ago, antique Welsh quilts that were hand draped and painted with natural pigments, and a mix of homemade natural dyes over bamboo silk and organic cotton to develop the garments.
Carzana will also introduce a small range of artisanal handbags created with hundreds of pieces of pineapple leather.
The designer said he fell in love with fashion the moment he was shown a book of Gianni Versace’s work by his art teacher in high school in Cardiff, Wales, and his design put a heavy emphasis on personal experiences, illustrated through “handmade garments that work with nature rather than against it.”
He hopes that his works can enter a small number of shops while continuing The Another World Project, which he began in 2019. The project aims to raise awareness and financial support for LGBTQ homeless youth and mental health funding support across the U.K. and Italy.