Liam Hodges' S/S 18 show is a good case study when analysing the difficulty of fashion's odd time lag - aka collections crafted months before they're sold. The best designers predict the tempo of future times, setting a pace and an agenda for the future. Others miss the zeitgeist, showing something that feels off for the now and still not quite right for six months ahead.
When he was working on his collection, Hodges could have had no idea that he’d be showing it the day young people, bolstered in part by social media, turned out at 72% and swayed an election away from Theresa May and towards Jeremy Corbyn. Loud voices and conversation were being celebrated. But Hodges’ collection was rallying against noise. 'Consuming all the audio, media, political and visual noise machete the 21st century human. Fuck the noise,' read his show-notes-cum-manifesto. These are common complaints amongst young people - too many images, too many posts, too many ideas. Bad luck for Hodges then that this collection was shown the day a hung parliament was announced, when noise amongst going people turned out to be an agenda-changing thing to celebrate. Without the online, audio and visual hubbub things wouldn’t have moved forward. It felt like an odd thing to critique.
Noise is apt when thinking out fashion too, not just politics. There’s lots of shouting right now as brands compete for attention on a cluttered schedule, desperate not just for sales but also likes and impressions. The best designers cut through all this. They don't shout to be heard, instead they speak clearly and with a unique tone. In terms of achieving that, this wasn't quite punchy enough. The FILA collab will be popular but felt like a rehashing given the success of Gosha Rubchinskiy’s repositioning of these retro sportswear labels at his S/S 17 show at Pitti in Florence.
The show ended with a man dressed in a giant bear costume - a nod to the 'screaming bear' motif that ran through the collection as a sign of disillusionment and fear. Hodges called it his generation’s version of Munch’s Scream. A overconfident claim perhaps. The finale bear made for a good moment’s madness in a collection that was otherwise safe. Really, despite the politicking, the actual message here was sales, not silence. Hodges had expanded his offer to include more basics and more formality to widen his demographic beyond tracksuit devotees. Denim had also been added. A smart expansion, ironically wrapped up in needless explanation.