Above image: Conner Ives X Browns Focus
When it first launched in 1997, Browns Focus was one of London’s most exciting talent incubators. Known for its wild parties as much as its ties with the hottest new names in fashion, early beneficiaries included Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha and Hussein Chalayan. The initiative provided a crucial foothold for these young designers to grow their fledgling brands and Browns’ commitment has not wavered since, partnering with the BFC, Graduate Fashion Week and Designers’ Nest to provide mentorship and financial support for tomorrow’s generation of designers.
Today marks the relaunch of Browns’ Focus initiative at a time when it is needed more than ever. Encompassing mens and womenswear, Series One of the programme includes nine exclusive capsule collections that champion the personal stories of each designer alongside a series of photographs, written text and sound. These multidisciplinary collaborations provide a meditation on the meaning of community for each participating designer, an opportunity to celebrate their roots and the origins of their creative practices.
With a womenswear line up featuring Commission, Connor Ives, Maximillian Davis and Mariah Esa alongside menswear designers Bianca Saunders, Labrum, LUEDER, Saul Nash and TSAU, the new talent roster embodies Browns’ commitment to platforming unique talent, irrespective of size or following. In anticipation of today’s launch, we caught up with each menswear designer to ask what community means to them and how it has come to inform their new collaboration with Browns.
“Community to me means being surrounded by people that make you feel at home, creating a place of belonging and understanding. The Browns project was very much inspired by a sense of community as the collection is based around my family.”
“Community is extremely important to me, inside and outside of my brand the people around me have always played a major part in influencing and shaping the person I am today. For Browns Focus specifically this involved casting members of the dance community in the creative that we shot with Ewen Spencer. The collection is inspired by Flipside SS21 but the intention was to take this capsule to somewhere other-worldly. Movement has always been an integral part of the brand for me so it was essential to carry this ethos into this new body of work for Browns.”
“Community to me is understanding your environment and selflessly working together as part of one body. It’s also understanding differences but also realising that the differences teach us empathy and widen our perception of ourselves and others. The nucleus of TSAU is rooted in the community and is defined by the space around us. Interactions & experiences within the community has manifested itself within the capsule collection. It has shaped my process to register, conserve and exhibit the impressions on my retina.”
“For me, community is all about authentically connecting with those around you; coming together to share our experiences and to learn from one another. The Labrum capsule collection for Browns is inspired by the ‘work to live’ ethos shared by those in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where I was born. It’s about a way of life and enjoying those people who are truly important to you.”
“This question brings me back to the idea of practicing Amateurism – starting each project or collection with an amateur’s mindset – one of a passionate, perhaps even naive, lover who is dreaming of bringing something new yet needed into the world. Amateurism forces me to ask uninhibited questions, imagine radical futures for the industry and intimately consider the mental and physical armour for my wearers. To bring these new dreams into the world, I continuously rely on a community of makers, artists, industry disruptors, fellow dreamers and of course my friends. Without them, LUEDER and this capsule collection at Browns would not and could not exist.”
Series One of Browns Focus is now live, shop the collection here.