J.W. Anderson opens London men’s season at his pop up, explains his new strategy

Leave it to Jonathan Anderson to open London Fashion Week Men’s without actually staging a show but at a pop-up opening where he explained a new strategy for his dynamic fashion house – one where drops (deliveries into boutiques), and not seasons, become more important.


J.W. Anderson works with british photographer Alasdair McLellan on its first collaboration of 2018

On a chilly Friday night in Shoreditch, the Northern Irishman unveiled the latest iteration of his Pop Up store, a link-up with photographer Alasdair McLellan. Ever iconoclastic, the pair mixed up photos of Game of Thrones locations in the designer’s native Ulster with frankly homoerotic images. Partly inspired, one sensed, from Anderson’s visit to Florence last summer to present his menswear at Pitti. At the time he commented that the Tuscan city was “the world capital of statues of naked men.”
 
The result of the latest collab – actually the second with the photographer – was a brilliant series of black and white images.
 
“I love Alasdair. We’ve been friends for a long time. His images really represent Britain. We do these sort of collaborations 12 times a year, working with an artist, or ceramicist or poet. The idea is that the items are not too expensive,” said Anderson. Prices varied from £20 for coffee mugs – hanging from white walls – to £30 for finely printed black and white posters, to £150 for white T-Shirts with McLellan’s naturally lit shots of handsome youths.
 
Anderson opened his boutique named Workshops early last year inside the happening Ace Hotel. It is a cool yet tiny space, where customers circulate around a series of high cabinets.
 
“Every month we change. Next month it will be a ceramicist. Then we work with the New York bookstore Printed Matter,” he added, as a queue of some 20 fans formed at the cash register.
 
The exterior of the boutique was actually a massive image shot by McLellan of Ulster’s most famous tourist destination, the Giant’s Causeway, a series of lava steps that tumble into the wild North Atlantic.
 
Why no show this season? “What we are doing is presenting pre, main and menswear all together in one show in February. I looked at the market for a while to see what traps there could be. I feel it is the right moment,” he explained.
 
Few designers are busier than Anderson, whose night job is as creative director of LVMH’s Spanish label Loewe. Hence, he divides his time between his London signature brand; monthly trips to Madrid and two days a week in the Paris design studio of Loewe, which is about to double its French headquarters as business booms at this heritage label that Anderson has reinvented as a cool cultural house. Last year marked the tenth anniversary of Anderson’s first show in a London church; next month he will stage his three-part show in his preferred location – a small military warehouse in Bloomsbury.
 
“I like to keep a show tight, with just the right people there. I don’t think you should do shows for 900 people! My whole thing is that it is now about drops and NOT seasons. So I see six drops a year and two shows. And it’s actually been super refreshing.  When you have been doing things for so long in the same rhythm,” enthused the multiple award-winning talent.

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