Christopher Shannon is one of the few designers to establish an equilibrium between sportswear and a political message. The Liverpudlian designer based in London knows a thing or two about sportswear: his entire career is founded on its principles and his ability to subvert classic tropes, through his unique perspective. Secondly, he has an invested interest in the world around us: last season he commented on Sports Direct’s maltreatment of its employees (the company infamously had 90% of its staff on zero hour contracts), the season before he looked at the economic unfairness of making it in a big city like London. For Fall 2017 he was back at what he does best, sardonically analysing the issues facing us today.
The post-Brexit blues permeated the show but Shannon was vehement about it not being miserable. He was looking at the multicultural London cityscape, specifically at construction sights; they accounted for the neon hues, the heavy-duty workwear that played on working class tropes and fetishised them. Shannon has long been a subverter of vulgarity. Spring 2017 was built on a love for denim and all the ways it could possibly be manipulated. That was present here too, it was an endeavour in patch-working. Contrasting panels lit up denim jackets. Elsewhere, he extended his interest in fraying with ridiculously degraded indigo denim on the runway. It all comes back to Shannon’s affinity for lad culture—despite the dark times, the post-Brexit world, he still has to design for them.
There was also the bleaker notion of the fashion industry. Logo t-shirts with ‘Constant Stress’, a reworked Calvin Klein Jeans slogan… Timberland became ‘Tumbleweed’… Boss became ‘Loss International’. It made me think of all the designers who consider the pace of fashion too much. Young designers are struggling to make ends meet, to work to production deadlines; established designers have their creativity stunted by the overwhelming demands of producing four to eight collections a year. Furthermore, the use of ‘Tumbleweed’ to me signifies dry and often humourless state of fashion design; although we have emerging and established designers pushing creative boundaries, there are myriad labels producing unneeded, substandard fashion. As for the Loss International, perhaps Shannon was thinking about globalised business, the sole focus on numbers on a screen. Or, maybe he was thinking about the fashion houses affected by the current economic climate. (Fashionista’s Tyler McCall published a fantastic piece called ‘What Happens When Your Brand Fails’, a fascinating read. I implore you to view it after this.)
Headpieces adorned the crowns of many of the models. They were threadbare fabrics concealing the models’ faces. In an abstract way, they reminded one of plastic bags suffocating the subject. It made sense, what with the constant stress and contrary fashion business. As stated earlier, Shannon asserted he didn’t want this to be a bleak affair. Colour the fabrics in bright yellow and there’s an unmistakably optimistic hue, but behind the colourful textures there’s an innate sense of dread and lifelessness. Depending on your perspective, this collection put the miserable world on a pedestal.