While museums such as the V&A house key fashion pieces, London has never had a public archive for menswear. Thanks to a new initiative from Westminster University, that’s all about to change.
London is the menswear capital of the world, with a fashion week schedule that promotes talent such as Craig Green, Christopher Raeburn, Grace Wales Bonner and Charles Jeffrey among many more. It has helped to launch the likes of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, yet, when it comes to creating a permanent record of the creative talent to have graced London catwalks, the city has failed to record the physical clothes.
It was something that Fashion Designer and Course Director at Westminster University, Andrew Groves, realised was missing, especially for students studying fashion at Westminster. As such, they embarked on a project to document and archive key pieces from menswear in one, publicly accessible space.
The idea came about first when Groves realised that his students had no access to a comprehensive resource, and wanted to create a place where burgeoning fashion talent could trace the evolution of clothes from their first, functional renderings through their many fashionable interpretations.
Starting in 1900, the collection currently includes rare pieces of McQueen menswear, – already more than the V&A – vintage designs from, Belstaff, Barbour, Levis, Jeremy Scott and Jean Paul Gaultier, as well as contemporary pieces by London’s exciting new menswear designers.
Groves notes that the new archive is already attracting international interest, highlighting the need of more publicly available archives throughout fashion. For while the accessibility of fashion online has increased, dramatically changing the industry in its wake, the garments themselves have in many ways been sidelined; a rigorous archiving system will help to ensure that for fashion designers, the focus shifts back to the design rather than the fanfare of branding.
So if you’re in search of inspiration, or want to delve a little deeper into finding out how London became the best city in the world for menswear, this is a need-to-know destination for you.