The Download: London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2024
Sinead Gorey autumn/winter 2024. Photography by Samira Eugster, British Fashion Council, UK

The Download: London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2024

Cutting through the chaos and overwhelming nature of fashion month, we distil the key insights from London Fashion Week.

Lost between having a deep reverence for the monarchy and being a stickler for etiquette, Britain can feel a little stuck in the past. This state of affairs was a central theme at London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2024, which took place across the British fashion capital from 16 to 20 February.

Inspired by Gen Z’s obsession with nostalgia, JW Anderson founder Jonathan Anderson attempted to dress ‘odd characters’ finding their new identity in an ever-changing Britain. On the catwalk, trench coats, chunky knits and retro school uniforms were accompanied by hats with in-built ‘granny chic’ wigs.

At Burberry, creative director Daniel Lee chose the immortal You Know I’m No Good by Britain’s sweetheart Amy Winehouse to set the mood. The crème de la crème of British models adorned in maxi kilts, field jackets and trench coats strutted down the runway – including Naomi Campbell, Edie Campbell and Lily Donaldson to name a few.

Key Takeaways

: Designers at London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2024 embraced nostalgia, from JW Anderson featuring authentically British 'odd characters' to Burberry celebrating Amy Winehouse

: Tolu Coker and Priya Ahluwalia infused personal narratives and cultural stories into their collections, emphasising the strength of Britain's diverse community

: The cost of living crisis led to several brands skipping traditional runway shows. Designers like Supriya Lele and Chopova Lowena explored alternative approaches such as private viewings and digital lookbooks

Sinead Gorey took nostalgia to another level by showcasing her autumn/winter 2024 collection in London’s Heaven nightclub – a 1990s and noughties queer clubbing institution. The show paid homage to the best of Britain circa 2000s and included everything from iPods, wired headphones and spike accessories to a Lily Allen soundtrack.

Ahluwalia autumn/winter 2024. Photography by Eeva Rinne, British Fashion Council, UK Ahluwalia autumn/winter 2024. Photography by Eeva Rinne, British Fashion Council, UK
Tolu Coker autumn/winter 2024, UK Tolu Coker autumn/winter 2024, UK

Diversity drives Britain’s fashion scene

Post-Brexit Britain has been battling to find its new identity, but London Fashion Week showcased its greatest strength: the flourishing creativity brought by its diverse immigrant community.

British-Nigerian designer Tolu Coker’s set design transported Ghana’s vibrant street hawkers to the runway, with colourful stands framing the background. The collection featured hoodies under lapels of wool coats, denim patchwork dresses, vibrant corsets, baby blue gowns over pants, and models adorned with multiple crossbody raffia bags. The inspiration came from a trip to Ghana and none other than Coker’s own mother, who used to street hawk in Lagos, Nigeria.

At the Erdem show, British-Turkish designer Erdem Moralıoğlu paid homage to the Greek opera star Maria Callas at the historic British Museum, while Fashion East alumni Jawara Alleyne referenced his childhood and the hurricane season he experienced growing up in the Cayman Islands.

Priya Ahluwalia, whose namesake brand has skyrocketed after being shortlisted for the LVMH Prize in 2020, showcased her autumn/winter 2024 collection Reverie at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster. Ahluwalia turned to her Indian-Nigerian heritage, weaving in folklore from both cultures embodied by dresses with elaborate hoods and tops reminiscent of Indian sarees.

Dilara Findikoglu autumn/winter 2024. Photography by Jasmine Engel-Malone, British Fashion Council, UK
Dilara Findikoglu autumn/winter 2024. Photography by Jasmine Engel-Malone, British Fashion Council, UK
Dilara Findikoglu autumn/winter 2024. Photography by Jasmine Engel-Malone, British Fashion Council, UK

Doom dressing is still in vogue

This year’s fashion week edition wasn’t all a celebration, with some designers showcasing collections with darker undertones, a theme we explored previously in our microtrend report, Doom Dressing.

‘This is a manifesto for a world order born of an unrelenting vortex of femme energy, a way of being and feeling that transcends the parochial structures of conventional masculinity,’ read Dilara Findikoglu’s show notes. At the St Michael & All Angels’ Church in Shoreditch, East London, the Turkish-British designer invited guests to sit in the dark, while models adorning corsets, latex and large structural bows walked down to the sound of dark electro music.

For his namesake brand, 2022 Central Saint Martin graduate Aaron Esh designed a wardrobe for indie sleaze lovers. The Chaos and Control collection featured menswear and womenswear with skinny jeans, longline waistcoats, a bouclé jacket, balloon-hem miniskirt, gunmetal heels and black smokey eyes – the creator's take on ‘the 1950s Parisian woman’ in his own words. Guests were even greeted with a bowl of cigarettes, perhaps as a cheeky reminder that the 2020s clean girl aesthetic has no place in his fashion fantasy.

Supriya Lele autumn/winter 2024 lookbook, UK Supriya Lele autumn/winter 2024 lookbook, UK
Chopova Lowena autumn/winter 2024 lookbook, UK Chopova Lowena autumn/winter 2024 lookbook, UK

Fashion’s financial struggle

Owing to the ominous presence of the cost of living crisis, several brands opted out of staging runway shows. Amid the UK's recession, the creative industry is being disproportionately affected by inflation and the rising costs of production.

Supriya Lele, finalist of the LVMH Prize 2020, shot the lookbook of her autumn/winter 2024 collection and welcomed private viewings in her South London studio – a disused pharmacy space inside an old office block turned into a gallery space.

The risqué looks, including micro-skirts, mini-bralettes, see-through knitted crop tops, vinyl dresses and transparent perspex heels, were inspired by William Gass’ 1976 philosophical novel On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry. Lele told Elle UK: ‘I was also thinking about mundane spaces. My studio is in an office block and the gallery is in an old pharmacy. We're constantly in these mundane, blank environments, and I was thinking about the transient throughout these spaces – and my woman in these spaces.’

Similarly, Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena of Chopova Lowena created a digital lookbook that they made themselves as a nod to their younger selves who would photograph and style images on their own. ‘We wanted to tap into that DIY feeling,’ Lowena told Vogue.

Strategic opportunities

: Harness the power of national pride, local relevance and nostalgia to create products and services that connect with consumers on an emotional level and evoke fond memories

: Find inspiration in Tolu Coker and Priya Ahluwalia’s brand storytelling. Consider infusing personal narratives and cultural stories into your products and services – creating a deeper connection with consumers

: Fashion brands should explore the creation of digital lookbooks and virtual runway shows to reach a global audience without the costs associated with traditional runway events

: In times of upheaval, sugar-coated storytelling and idealised world views don’t resonate with everyone. Explore how embracing playful cynicism and raw imagery can amplify your brand’s message and values

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