Fashion East ushers in the new normal

The talent incubator is known for nurturing the next big names – but this season they're anticipating some of the trends that are set to change how the industry operates.

Each season at LFW, eyes are trained on Fashion East and rightfully so – it’s the place where the industry first hears of some of its favourite designers. The talent incubator, established by “fashion fairy godmother” Lulu Kennedy in 2000, has churned out style superstar after style superstar including A Sai Ta, Craig Green, Grace Wales Bonner, Kim Jones, Charles Jeffrey and Matty Bovan. 

This time around, Fashion East supported five fresh faces; first-timers Goom Heo and Nensi Dojaka and returnees Ancuta Sarca, Saul Nash and Gareth Wrighton. Subverting the catwalk with contemporary dance, platforming conversations around sustainability and showing as part of a co-ed lineup, the showcase distilled some of the most important ongoing changes within fashion. Keep reading to find out what went down.

Goom Heo

Recent CSM grad and South Korean menswear designer Goom Heo served up a hazy homage to contemporary masculinity with square-toed boots, crop tops and pops of pink. Melding different expressions of masculinity with an overarching avantgarde sensibility, she presented an inclusive vision of gender that we’re only going to see more of in seasons to come.

Saul Nash

With a background in dance and a BA in Performance Design, menswear designer Saul Nash’s practice centres on subtle reinventions of sportswear alongside a dissection of the ways masculinity is performed through movement. Following on from Marc Jacob’s NYFW show, which saw 53 dancers take over the catwalk space, Nash subverted the expectations of the runway with a choreographed dance segment unpacking male bravado. As more designers look to blend the worlds of art, dance and fashion, we know that Nash’s approach – and his flair for sociological analyis – will be emulated across the industry. 

Ancuta Sarca

HUNGER fave Ancuta Sarca presented more of her (now signature) upcycled Nike footwear. Branching out from the kitten heels she showed last season, her presentation featured sky blue knee-high boots, mules and sleek ankle boots. Another much-needed reminder that sustainability can be sexy as we move away from capitalism’s fascination with newness and the imperative to consume, consume and consume. 

Nensi Dojaka

Showing as part of Fashion East for the first time, Albanian designer Nensi Dojaka explored the duality of femininity with raw-edged, body-conscious dresses showing that femmes can be sexy, soft and empowered…all at the same time. This cerebral consideration of gender identity felt like a much-needed respite from the spectre of social media feminism where sweeping generalisations quash any productive intellectual or creative response. We can only hope that more designers use their craft and fashion week platform to inject a dose of nuance into the discourse. 

Gareth Wrighton

Londoner Gareth Wrighton inhabited Americana abjection with his lineup of mall rats, skaters, Bush supporters and cheerleaders this season. Bright and at times bizarre — we can’t get past that wire-and-Cheetos crown — the collection served as a critique of the omnipresence of the kind of non-biodegradable materials that will probably still be on the earth long after we’ve killed ourselves off through climate change. 

18 February 2020