London fashion week (LFW) has become known over recent years to be more of a hub for cultivating emerging talent than a Hollywood-standard event that competes to the level of Milan or Paris.
Yet, that is seemingly in the midst of changing. Capturing the sought-after attention of netizens, #lfw2023 has amassed 25 million views on TikTok and counting.
Following its post-pandemic return to the schedule in September 2022, British fashion house Burberry has become a major show mainstay at LFW, which this year ran September 14 through today. That fixture, along with presentations from industry leaders such as JW Anderson, Simone Rocha, Richard Quinn, and Molly Goddard is now attracting flocks of international press and buyers, as well as social media buzz. See the top five performing LFW brands on Instagram below, according to data provided by Lefty.
Bolstering LFW’s growing reputation is a thriving cluster of homegrown talent, from Mowalola and Knwls, to Chopova Lowena, Chet Lo and Di Petsa, who are gaining cult followings for leading internet style trends around the world. In addition to that, world-famous rapper Skepta re-launched his clothing brand with DH-PR on schedule, which saw stars attend in their droves, including Louis Theroux, Stormzy, and Naomi Campbell.
Combining the forces of it-girl designers, British luxury houses, star-studded parties, and some stellar experiential marketing strategies, the event has been full of renewed energy this season.
Big players become fixtures
The two most hotly-anticipated slots at LFW Spring 2024 were undoubtedly JW Anderson and Burberry’s shows.
Forever flying the flag for London’s round of shows, JW Anderson took to Camden’s Roundhouse on Saturday last week, with A-listers from Munroe Bergdorf and Cole Sprouse, to Anna Wintour sitting front row. Blocks of Scola color clay were sent out as invites, hinting at the collection’s plasticine hoodie and shorts — on TikTok, mentionings of the phrase “JW Anderson spring 2024” is currently at 3.5 million views.
Another name boosting LFW’s reputation is Burberry creative director Daniel Lee. On its third season presenting in London since the pandemic started, the British fashion house’s show was plastered across social media platforms in China and worldwide before it even began — the mainland being Burberry’s biggest market.
Getting the public involved
Though generating some controversy online for confusing tourists, Burberry’s marketing efforts firmly contributed to LFW’s mood of enthusiastic revitalization this season.
Changing the Bond Street London underground sign to “Burberry Street” and taking over popular classic hangout spot Norman’s Cafe in Tufnell Park, north London, the British luxury house took physical marketing to new heights. And it worked – the phrase “Burberry Normans Cafe” has to date garnered 2.6 million views on TikTok.
The British Fashion Council’s (BFC) REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion exhibition at the Design Museum is another example of how LFW is catering to the wider public this season. In celebration of three decades of the transformative Newgen program – an initiative providing support to emerging designers through grant funding and mentoring -, nearly 100 iconic looks from participating designers are on display. The major showcase celebrates London’s unmatched legacy as a nurturing ground for fashion visionaries.
British designers blossom
After winning the Queen Elizabeth II Award in 2018, flamboyant floral womenswear designer Richard Quinn’s eponymous brand has evolved to put on one of LFW’s most compelling events.
Having dropped collaborations with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Pret a Manger, Jo Malone and more, Quinn’s staying loyal to his hometown, despite substantial growth, by not moving onto Paris Fashion Week (PFW) like so many others have.
London’s prioritization of emerging designers via supportive initiatives such as non-profit talent incubator Fashion East and the BFC’s Newgen program has made the capital a fashion incubator. For instance, BFC Newgen has catapulted designers like Christopher Kane, Kim Jones, and J.W. Anderson into the limelight, and Fashion East was behind the rise of Simone Rocha, Yuhan Wang, Supriya Lele, and Roksanda, among many others.
As a result, brands such as Chet Lo and Blackpink-favorite, wet-look label Di Petsa are blossoming. Chopova Lowena came fifth among the most influential shows after Burberry, JW Anderson, Simone Rocha, and Richard Quinn, according to data from Lefty, generating $273,000 in earned media value.
The brand thriving the most is arguably Mowalola. Since joining Fashion East in 2019, the ex-Yeezy Gap designer has garnered a loyal online following for her new-era punk aesthetic that manages to combine boldly sexy influences from London, New York, and Lagos.
Mowalola’s show at electronic dance venue The Beams in London on Friday night captivated attention for its provocative designs, and having Kanye West in attendance and supermodel Irina Shayk open. Styled by industry maven Lotta Volkova, with makeup by Isamaya Ffrench and PFW’s Lucien Pages doing the public relations, it was, naturally, a viral success.