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London Fashion Week Men's kicks off to an uncertain future

London - Friday, January 6 sees the launch of the rebranded men's fashion week in London, namely London Fashion Week Men's. The bi-annual event, which welcomes established designers as well as new and emerging men's wear designers, has said farewell to its old title London Collections: Men as part of the British Fashion Council strategy to realign the fashion event with women's London Fashion Week and its consumer fashion event, London Fashion Weekend.

London Fashion Week Men's kicks off to an uncertain future

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, joined by GQ editor and LFWM chairman Dylan Jones and Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council Caroline Rush, officially kicked off the start of LFWM this morning at 180 Strand. "London Fashion Week Men’s is a truly international celebration of fashion, design and creativity," said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. "As Mayor, I’m proud to be able to provide funding to support this event and the next generation of London designers. Fashion is the largest employer of all our creative industries, supporting almost 800,000 jobs and worth an astonishing 28 billion pounds to the UK economy.

"Today, press and buyers from as far away as Beijing, Seoul and Montreal will flock to London Fashion Week Men’s, showing that London is truly open to business, talent and visitors from across the globe." However, as designers, press and buyers comes together for latest event of LFWM, industry peers continue to wonder what the future may hold for the men's fashion week. Running until January 9, the event in January is traditionally more quiet than June, as the former coincides with the post-holiday slump after Christmas and the New Year.

London Fashion Week Men's kicks off to an uncertain future

London Fashion Week Men's opens in London

However, this season sees LFWM going toe to toe with Italian tradefair Pitti Uomo, which kicks off on January 10. The Florentine event continues to attract leading designers, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Tim Coppens so it comes as little surprise that a number of British menswear designers have swapped over to Pitti Uomo. Paul Smith was previously named as the Special Guest of Pitti Uomo 91st edition and is set to showcase his PS by Paul Smith collection at the tradefair for the first time and Johnstons of Elgin will be unveiling its debut luxury collection under its creative director Alan Scott as event this season.

Combined with the rise of 'see now, buy now' business models and co-ed fashion shows, which sees a number of fashion houses, including Burberry, Sibling and Belstaff, merging their women's wear and men's wear shows into a single event, the future of the rebranded London Fashion Week Men's remains uncertain. 12 fashion brands, including Christopher Raeburn, Sibling, YMC and Belstaff are set to show both men's wear and women's wear together during LFWM and 6 will present 'see now, buy now,' collections during the event, including Barbour International and Maharishi.

London Fashion Week Men's kicks off to an uncertain future

Dylan Jones believes that there will have to be "some sort of consolidation" with women's wear shows in the future in order to ensure the bi-annual event's survival. "There is so much going on, so much activity, and so much disruption, that things need to be streamlined. There is a sense that the fashion world is becoming a little unwieldy," said Jones to WWD. However, he acknowledges that it is ultimately up to the designers and fashion houses to decide when, where and how they show their collection, as London Fashion Week Men's was designed to offer local talent a platform and launchpad to help their businesses thrive.

Raeburn agrees with Jones, adding: "I’m old enough to remember when we didn’t have a London men’s fashion week, and the difference now is quite incredible. London offers an amazing opportunity to show the collection to press and buyers ahead of the sales periods in Paris and Milan." In addition, in spite of the shift in branding and the exit of big ticket names such as Burberry, Tom Ford, Coach and Alexander McQueen, LFWM is busier than ever, according to the BFC. Buyers and press from over 38 countries are set to attend the event this season, close to a 20 percent increase from last year. In particular, Chinese buyer attendance has grown 175 percent season on season as local attendance is up 20 percent season-on-season.

Photos: Courtesy The British Fashion Council and Pitti Uomo