Fashion reflects life

The London menswear designer making gender fluid clothes with a masculine bent
By Lukas Grout | Fashion | 9 May 2016
Photography Greta Ilieva

London-based designer Ed Lee has been steadily building a strong following via his signature romantic take on menswear, and now he’s back with another beautiful offering for FW16. Although a linear continuation of Lee’s poetic direction, this season features more traditional cuts, painterly finishes and some of his most masculine pieces yet.

Here, the Hong Kong born designer exclusively shares his FW16 lookbook, shot by Greta Ilieva and styled by Harry Lambert. He tells us what it’s like to be a young designer in London, why androgyny isn’t just a trend, and why, for him, comfort is king.

Lukas Grout: You’re back with your FW16 collection – what can you tell us about it?
Ed Lee: Like the previous collections, I wanted to deliver a consistent vibe. I used to paint very often and that is something I revisited this season with a fresher colour palette than what I’ve worked with before. People have mentioned before the ‘gender bending’ aspect of my work, and I feel like this time I tried to balance it out a bit more.

LG: Was the gender fluidity something that was encouraged at Central Saint Martins?
EL: It wasn’t discouraged. The nature of teaching and the projects were really diverse. We would get a sportswear project or a textile project for example, and we would all approach the brief differently.


LG: There is an interesting mix of both materials and techniques this season, was this a conscious decision, or something more natural?
Ed: I always stick with my gut feeling. Even in the early stages, it’s all about the textures before I even start to think about the silhouette. I tend to get inspired by the fabric first and then find the best shape to fit the fabric.

LG: What is your creative process like? Does it change season to season or do you have rituals?
Ed: When I start a new collection I let the textiles inspire me – it’s very personal. To me, clothes are to be worn. At this stage in my career, I don’t have to worry so much about sales, but it’s still important that they’re comfortable. I always need to feel the fabric before I do anything.

LG: You’re a few seasons in now, how would you describe your muse?
Ed: I don’t have a character in mind when I design. I would rather the clothes speak for themselves as apposed to being limited to a specific kind of person. But as a brand, it’s more like a mood or a silhouettes – very loose tailoring, and I think that there’s an androgynous direction my customer is attracted to.

Ed Lee FW16

Ed Lee FW16

LG: You’ve worked in both London and Paris. Are there any differences in reaction to your work between the two places?
Ed: In London people are so supportive, probably because I’ve been based in London for quite a while. My brand is very much based here… it’s where I get the most inspired. In Paris, it’s very difficult for young designers. Perhaps because there is such a strong heritage of fashion in the city – but I feel the resources young designers have access to there are very limited in comparison to London.

LG: You’ve been asked a lot about the androgynous nature of your work – but more and more big brands are blurring the lines between what is male and what is female – do you think this is the future or a just cultural phase for them?
Ed: I believe that fashion reflects life – and if this is happening, then it is indeed a trend. There is no good or bad, it’s just what people think now… and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is kind of a culture on its own nowadays. People are more open minded and I’m interested to see what it leads to. Whether clothes will just be unisex or traditional menswear will become less mainstream, I don’t know.

Additional lookbook credits: fashion by Harry Lambert, model Willow @ Rebel Management & Billy, grooming Louis Ghewy


Read Next