This season marks Fashion East and TOPMAN's joint talent platform's 25th show, and everyone's favourite talent triptych is as exciting as it has ever been.
Before we step inside the surreal seaside world of James Theseus Buck and Luke Brooks' Rottingdean Bazaar; party in Eden Loweth and Tom Barratt's boundary and binary blurring ART SCHOOL; and get that bit closer to the everyday subversion of Per Götesson, three MAN alumnus share a few pearls of wisdom and pose pertinent questions to the current generation.
What do they have planned? Are they ready? What's playing through the studio speakers? Who has the last word?
In addition to the catwalk showcase itself, designers receive financial sponsorship, behind-the-scenes one-to-one mentoring, and inclusion in a leading Paris sales showroom. It really is life and label changing. "The MAN platform changed my life," says Charles Jeffrey, its most recent graduate. "Had Lulu and Natasha not encouraged me to be braver, smarter, and taught me so much of what I now know, my label wouldn't exist. This season's designers have got so much to look forward to... it's a beautiful riot."
So, here, MAN's beautiful riotous past meet MAN's beautiful riot future.
Charles Jeffrey to Per Götesson
Charles: Per! You alright hen? How are ye feelin'... Have you had enough greens?
Per: I feel amazing and proud chaotic and organised all at the same time. I eat a lot of bananas.
What can you tell me so I can imagine your show vibes -- I want to be able to SEE it...
Inside out and laid back tailoring.
If I had to give you a pearl of wisdom from my time with MAN, it would be: Don't leave your sales rail in the London Showroom. Or you might just miss Rei Kawakubo.
A special MAN memory from me to you... I'll never forget taking my bow after autumn/winter 16. It just felt so pure - the nicest I've ever felt. Like everybody understood us.
Keep doing what you do, Charles!
Astrid Andersen to Rottingdean Bazaar
Astrid: Hey guys!
Rottingdean Bazaar: Hi Astrid!
I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with this season... What's the vibe for June?
Crafty Beggars in the House.
What are you listening to in the studio today?
We were listening to some talks by Esther Perel, a relationship psychotherapist, and the audiobook of Sharon Osbourne's Unbreakable,
What's the plan after the show?
We're going to do a Paris showroom for the first time.
If I had to give you a pearl of wisdom from my time with MAN… it would be to only work with people who understand you. For me being part of MAN really meant being part of a movement that brought designers together and created a community where you root for each other, and you're on the same team. It's amazing, because when you start out, you don't know all the people, you can feel a bit lonely, and scared of the entire beast... I remember this one season backstage so clearly, because it was such a tiny backstage for three designers. That season Craig did his first wooden sculptures and half his models was painted all black - and Agi and Sam decided to have dogs in their show... I mean, you cannot be a diva backstage in a situation like that! You just pray no-one touches, rips or pies on your collection basically!
Photography Lillie Eiger
Liam Hodges to Art School
Liam: Hi Tom! Hi Eden! Congratulations on getting MAN! You must be really hyped. How are you approaching the change from presentation to catwalk?
Art School: Hi Liam! Thank you so much, we're so excited to be a part of MAN! We're really working on developing our signature within both the clothes and our brand's message. We feel the MAN catwalk really gives us the ability to push every element of our work to the max, it's about both refinement and elevation.
Your casting last season was really powerful, it's clearly a real cornerstone of the conversation you're having as a brand -- along with this idea of living out your dreams in reality. What do your dreams look like right now?
Our dreams centre around inclusivity. It's so important for us to have our friends and loved ones involved in the label -- it wouldn't feel true to us to work on this alone. It's such an amazing opportunity that gives us and all our friends the chance to express ourselves.
Being together and working together must be a lot! Do you ever fight over your work? If so, who wins? Who gets the last word.?
We both think about things in very different ways which helps defuse potential disagreements as we find a middle ground quite naturally... I think we both might disagree on who get's the last word in the end though!
If I had to give you one piece of advice, it would be simple really... Never be afraid to ask for help and get opinions, but you have to trust your own judgement and gut feelings. You can do whatever you want, you just have to make it good, and enjoy doing it. I think my favourite MAN moment was always the same each season. That bit when the last model comes back off the catwalk and the whole team realise 'we did it, nothing went horrifically wrong, we got away with it again, let go celebrate.' Good luck this season guys!
Thank you Liam! <3
Text Steve Salter
Lead image Jamie Morgan