Fashion East is the beating heart of the London fashion scene. Since being founded by fashion's fairy godmother, Lulu Kennedy, in 2000, the talent incubator has nurtured some of the brightest names in fashion today - from menswear's hottest ticket Kim Jones to Simone Rocha. A roster of three to five designers show under Fashion East each season, and since last February, the eagerly awaited slot has moved to show solely during womenswear as a co-ed offering. Having shifted to a digital format just like the rest of the industry, since last September, the upcoming A/W 21 season will see designers Maximilian Davis, Goomheo and Nensi Dojaka return to show their latest collections via films and stills, and they're joined by two new names.
The hotly anticipated newbies, announced last week, are Jawara Alleyne and HRH. Alleyne is a 29 year old designer, flying high on the credentials of a Central Saint Martins MA and having worked under Charaf Tajer at Casablanca. Raised in Jamaica and the Cayman islands, Alleyne designs menswear with storytelling in mind, using the sensual to redefine the masculine.
'To imagine a new future, it’s important for people of colour to have autonomy over telling their own narratives and to see themselves reflected through their own lenses' the designer explains.
Accessories designer Hannah Hopkins also finds community at the core of her brand HRH (formerly Monster Coat Club). Technical sportswear and athletic sensibilities inspired by figure skating are all at work in her Instagram friendly designs. From irridescent nylon bags dripping with glass gems to duvet scarves, Hopkins' creations are intended to fashion a smile on their wearer.
'Every accessory comes from a desire to create delightful things for those around me that I love. I am endlessly inspired by my community and want to make them beautiful things' says Hopkins.
Returning designers Davis, Dojaka and Goomheo are just as eagerly anticipated. Davis' S/S 21 debut featured a lookbook lensed by Rafael Pavarotti and styled by Ib Kamara, launching him onto the London schedule with impactful and beautiful images which perfectly elevated Davis' vision of Black elegance inspired by 19th century images of carnival and his grandmother's Trinidadian upbringing, all inflected through his razor sharp tailoring and leather work. It's not surprise that Davis has already found himself picked up by stockists SSENSE, Browns and Net-a-Porter.
Whilst Davis looks to masculinity, Albanian designer Nensi Dojaka looks to femininity. 'My woman is complex, she embodies a perfect marriage of severity and delicacy' she explains. Taking cues from lingerie with her black, deconstructed designs, Dojaka counts Bella Hadid as her number one fan. In September 2020, Dojaka was the first of two recipients of Alessandro Dell'Acqua and Tomorrow Ltd's new mentorship scheme, whereby each season, two brands are selected to receive development consultancy from the No.21 creative director and service. Not bad for a designer only three seasons in.
South Korean designer Goomheo makes the final addition to this season's line-up. For her third and final showing as part of Fashion East following last season's explorations of voyeurism, we're expecting more bright colours and geometric patterns in her unique take on sportswear, whilst also hoping for more of their now archetypal hybrid square ballet shoes.
'I didn’t appreciate it before, how cool people style themselves. But when I came back after studying in London, I found it very striking, especially the older people. It wasn’t about tradition or subcultures, more about people I saw on the streets in my hometown' says Goomheo.
With fashion pivoting to a digital world, Fashion East are supporting emerging talent as they find new ways to express their designs beyond the catwalk show.
Fashion East shows on Tuesday 23 February 2020 at 17:45 GMT.