Sometimes a designer emerges who’s got a certain star quality. It doesn’t roll around often, but when it does, it pays to take note. Here we’re talking about Daniel Fletcher, the politically and socially charged South London designer who, since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2015, has quickly established his eponymous line – Daniel w. Fletcher – as a prominent fixture in the menswear landscape. Now, he has been shortlisted for the prestigious LVMH Prize.
To celebrate, Daniel exclusively premieres his FW17 lookbook below – and reflects on the nomination.
Established in 2013, the prize for Young Fashion Designer goes to an outstanding emerging talent who receives €300,000 and a mentorship from LVMH executives – a major head start for an emerging designer building their business. (Daniel is no stranger to high-profile mentorships, counting Kim Jones and Lucas Ossendrijver as past mentors.) The award, announced in June, is judged by a panel of executives and artistic directors from houses under the LVMH Group umbrella – this year’s include Jonathan Anderson (Loewe), Karl Lagerfeld (Fendi), Nicholas Ghesquiere (Louis Vuitton), Maria Grazia Chiuri (Dior), Marc Jacobs, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim (Kenzo), Phoebe Philo (Céline) and Riccardo Tisci (Givenchy).
Daniel’s nomination nods to a year of hard work, having opened his debut pop-up store in Covent Garden just months ago to great success, and debuting his FW17 collection during London Men’s Fashion Week in January. Following his nomination, Daniel took a break to reflect on the collection, nomination, and year ahead.
Tempe Nakiska: Congratulations on the nomination Daniel! You’re going from strength to strength – this is so well-deserved. How does it feel to be shortlisted?
Daniel w. Fletcher: It’s a huge honour to have made the shortlist, and also a little bit of a shock, I feel extremely grateful to be considered alongside such established brands and designers I look up to when I still feel like I am at the beginning of my career; it’s quite surreal.
Tempe: The prize includes a mentorship – what kind of questions would you be burning to ask your mentor/s?
Daniel: There is so much I need advice on that I’m not sure where to start! Going straight into setting up the label from my BA, I have just sort of made it up as I’ve gone along, so I could really do with some help with manufacturing, and the structure of the business, and TAX – it literally makes my brain melt. This season (FW17) felt like a huge turning point, I am working with a really great sales team now and we picked up a lot of new stockists. So with the collection being stocked in over ten stores, I really need to get my production right, so that would be high on the list.
Tempe: What would you do with the prize money if you were to win?
Daniel: I would love to hire someone to manage the studio and production, in fact I already know who it would be. It would give me a clearer head and enable me to focus on the creative direction of the brand if I could share these other responsibilities with someone else.
Tempe: The past twelve months have already been huge for you, you even opened your own pop up store. How do you feel about the pace you’re travelling at with your brand?
Daniel: It has been so quick I haven’t had much time to reflect on it, although it is important to take a moment and appreciate these things, I am more focussed on looking forward and just being grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given. I do feel like I have put quite a lot out there in a short space of time, which is partly down to the demands of the fashion system. But I am thinking hard about how I will present my collections moving forward, how big they will be, their impact on the Earth and how they are shown.
Tempe: What would you say is the main learning curve you have experienced over the past year or so?
Daniel: To be myself. The more collections I do the more personal they feel and the more I have learned to trust my instinct. In my early days at Central Saint Martins I felt a certain amount of pressure to do what I thought they wanted but it always turned out crap and I hated it, it wasn’t until after my placement year in Paris that this clicked and over the past year I have really learned to embrace this.
Tempe: You designed your FW17 collection to the backdrop of Donald Trump’s election and called for unity through your designs. Now that we are a couple of months into 2017, how do you feel about the current political climate?
Daniel: I can’t get over what is happening in America right now, the last few years saw so much progression in terms of tolerance and equality across the world and now we have a sexist, racist, misogynist leading the most powerful county in the world, is this really happening? However the beautiful displays of unity I have witnessed at the protests happening all across London have lifted my spirits during this turbulent time.
Tempe: Are you heartened by any particular expressions of unity that you’ve seen/heard about going on around the world recently?
Daniel: I was introduced to the amazing drag super-group DENIM at Port Eliot this summer and I have thoroughly enjoyed their lead performer Glamrou (an Iraqi immigrant) leading the protests outside Downing Street with a ‘THE ONLY THING I TERRORIZE IS THE RUNWAY’ placard.
Tempe: You’ve previously said that you feel young people’s political opinions are often disregarded, and as such it comes naturally to you to express yourself through your work. Are there any other creatives, personalities, or just friends/young people who you are currently finding inspirational in that regard?
Daniel: I share a studio with fellow CSM alumni ELLISS who launched her namesake label last year and has just presented her second collection. It’s a women’s jersey, basics and underwear line which is made with organic materials all sustainably sourced and produced with minimum carbon footprint. Elliss is extremely passionate about what she does and produces beautiful pieces with a low impact on our planet, I am learning a lot from sharing with her and think a lot of brands should be taking a leaf out of her book.
Tempe: Finally… what are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?
Daniel: Having my first London stockist and being able to walk into a store here and see the collection on the shop floor, I can’t give too many details yet but this should be happening pretty soon. Other than that I am just taking each day as it comes, I’m learning so much doing this, and enjoying it as I go along so I just want to make the most of every opportunity. My brother’s baby is due in two weeks too and I’m pretty bloody excited about that!