Collection XIII

John Alexander Skelton takes us mudlarking on the seedy docks of East London
By Bailey Slater | Fashion | 21 June 2022

John Alexander Skelton’s Collection XIII (that’s thirteen to you and me) pays tribute to the nautical workwear of the 1800s.

Honing in on last-season muse Benjamin Pollock, a character who consumes many of the designer’s waking moments, Skelton finds himself once again pondering Pollock’s movements about the city. He imagines his interests and interactions, the clothes he’d pick out and hang back on the rack, or even if he’d use a rack at all. “I found that there is a joy in projecting onto a character that little is known about and a freedom that allows the mind to wonder,” shares the designer, whose SS23 collection imagines a tangible summer wardrobe of pin-striped jackets and slack knits for his dockland stalkings.

In the midst of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, he took to cobbled streets on either side of the Thames in Bermondsey, Limehouse and Wapping, donning loose shirts that hung crumpled and limp from the body, a patchwork of curving shapes and simple colours. He has buttons aplenty, and pockets cut with a curiosity for the asymmetric. Intricate patterns toy with his mind in shapeless overcoats and puffy trouser legs, accompanying his handheld wicker baskets – a preferred It-bag of the 19th century – or mammoth, muslin crossbodys.


A supposed ‘Mudlark’ – that is a collector and treasure-hunter who scavenges river-beds in the low tide for whatever curiosities may poke out from the soil – Skelton suspects Pollock would too have “dabbled in what the local area had to offer that may not have been strictly legal,” appropriately obscuring his face with bulky leather caps and a stained mask. But whether dressing for a pint at the tavern or a night of hard graft in the criminal underworld, Skelton’s vision of the ultimate Dockland Dandy never faltered, ready to embrace colour, pomp and a little mischief at all times.

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