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WHO'S THERE: It's all about the boy, as London bids to be capital of menswear: 'London Collections: Men' kicks off this week, with a new face and top names back from Milan
[January 04, 2014]

WHO'S THERE: It's all about the boy, as London bids to be capital of menswear: 'London Collections: Men' kicks off this week, with a new face and top names back from Milan

(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Bring on the boys. London Collections: Men begins tomorrow - with a new message to promote and a new voice to shout about it.

Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw has been appointed ambassador for the menswear catwalk showcase, and the event - now in its fourth season - is rebranding the capital as London, Home of Menswear.

Fashion editors and buyers will watch autumn/winter 2014 shows from more than 50 designers and brands, but the British Fashion Council is also making a point of involving consumers. Grimshaw, 29, who presents the radio station's breakfast show, and road tests foppish tailoring on nights out with TV presenter and model Alexa Chung, is the ideal posterboy.

An advertising campaign on posters seen around London highlights classics associated with the menswear heritage of the capital - including brogues and three-piece suits. It is hoped that The Anatomy of a Suit, an exhibition at the Museum of London running concurrently with the menswear shows, will spark interest in the history of menswear and tailoring in the capital.

On the less traditional side, stores including Harvey Nichols and Browns will have windows themed around the event and in-store offers on participating brands for the three days of the show. Social media is also being targeted. The hashtag #londonmenswear has been set up for men to send in their own style snaps.

It's all part of a bid to nurture a community of fashion-savvy men beyond the niche of the fashion industry.

The strategy mirrors that of Natalie Massanet, new chairwoman of the British Fashion Council. In September, just before the first round of womenswear shows under her watch, she proclaimed that, as in New York, everyone should know when fashion week is.

Menswear in the UK is also increasingly worthy of attention in a business sense. Market research company Mintel estimates that the sector is worth pounds 10.4bn, and has grown by 12% over the past five years. Such growth is expected to continue until 2017, with a rise of 11% predicted. Despite still being in its infancy, London Collections: Men also already generates pounds 40m of media coverage.

There was no a menswear fashion week in London until 2011, but LC:M is now key. "It has become a staple of the menswear calendar and is a fabulous way to kick off the season," said Dylan Jones, chairman of London Collections: Men, who is also editor of GQ magazine.

Industry attendance is expected to bear out this bold claim. Despite the fact that the autumn/winter event opens just days after the Christmas season, press and buyers from 37 countries will be attending. Jones puts this down to an optimistic mood coming through. "We have all been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for the project," he said. "The scale and ambition of all the many designers who are now showing here is infectious." Tom Ford has made London the home for his men's collection, and Burberry brought its menswear show back from Milan last season, after 10 years away.

This season, new talent, tailoring labels and high-street stalwarts are all represented. Marks & Spencer will also have its first full show at the event. Its Best of British tailoring collection will be presented tomorrow evening.

Captions: Nick Grimshaw, the Radio 1 DJ and new ambassador for the menswear catwalk show, and TV presenter and model Alexa Chung. Photograph by Dave M Benett/Getty A model at the Alexander McQueen show at London Collection: Men in 2013.

(c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.

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