6 September 2013

London Fashion Week vs London Collections: Men

London Fashion Week is fast approaching. For this fashion blogger, it is an event I always look forward to. I love shooting the catwalk shows, catching up with familiar faces, and exploring the diversity of street style. But with this being my fifth season in attendance, I have seen the creases in this cornucopia of fashion.


I have observed that London Fashion Week has become far too popular for its own good. The fashion community is ever growing, and LFW is the party of the year. By lunchtime on the first day, the Somerset House courtyard is overrun with attendees, and I cannot help but feel slightly overwhelmed. Although nothing quite like the crowds at Notting Hill Carnival, there is a clear sense of hype surrounding LFW, as if people believe they have to be there and - perhaps more importantly - to be seen there.

Peacocking is prevalent, there is no denying that. While there is certainly nothing wrong with dressing up, some of the outfits are so mad and fantastical, they would not be seen anywhere else but during London Fashion Week. I feel there is an air of competition, to impress one's peers and to attract the lens of a street style photographer. Sometimes it seems like that is the only reason some people even attend.

But the vibe during London Collections: Men is a lot different. Compared with the crowds at its sister event, LC:M feels very intimate. The showcases take place across three days instead of five, there is no central show space like Somerset House, and the fewer number of guests appear more genuine in their individual styles and interest in fashion.

I do not want to photograph somebody who dresses up for the camera. The styles I see at London Collections are effortless, because everybody dresses for themselves. The outfits are not impractical or overly flamboyant, they are true to one's personal style.

The other element of genuinity at London Collections is the street style photographers. There is a collective of photographers who regularly shoot at major fashion events, who are experienced, who know how to approach people, and who know exactly what they are looking for. They are generally the only people shooting on the scene at menswear week, and hence their photographs are unique.

Whereas at LFW, it seems anybody with a camera takes on the persona of a street style photographer, and the event becomes a free-for-all, with everyone photographing each other. What is particularly frustrating, however, is when an experienced photographer sets up a shot, only to have their image stolen by a dozen parasitic happy-snappers, who lurk close by and fire a few shots of their own. It takes advantage of the professionalism of the photographer, who no longer has that original image.

I do fear that with the increasing popularity of London Collections: Men, it might turn the same way as London Fashion Week in the foreseeable future. Will it become just another wild party on the fashion calendar? For now, I shall savour the intimacy and genuinity of menswear week, and prepare for the loudness and hype of LFW. As always, I expect it will be a thoroughly busy five days.

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