Disrupt the system

Fashion East: Gareth Wrighton FW20
Fashion | 16 February 2020

Few initiatives have yielded more innovative designers than Fashion East, the acclaimed mentorship scheme whose alumni list includes everyone from Martine Rose to Gareth Pugh. This season saw Lulu Kennedy celebrate 20 years at the helm. Incidentally, FW20 also marked the first ever co-ed showing – yet another indication that gendered runways could soon be a thing of the past.

Back in 2016, Gareth Wrighton launched The Maul, an anti-establishment video game project which mused on the bleakness of endless consumption. Four years later, he’s been accepted by the industry whose behaviour he so incisively critiqued – and for FW20, he brought this mood to the third of his Americana-themed collections.

From cheerleader uniforms to American football shorts, Wrighton subverted US staples with a sprinkling of slogans (‘MEGA MAUL STARS’) and tongue-in-cheek twists, like the jockstrap worn over satin-tie trousers (with a raw chicken tucked into the crotch, naturally) and unbuttoned shorts printed with Despicable Me minions.

The ‘VOTE FOR BUSH’ sweater felt particularly resonant – a subtle reminder that, yet again, the country has a president determined to wage war on the Middle East. In Wrighton’s hands, this distinctly millennial political bleakness – fuelled by the sarcastic doom-mongering of meme culture – feels like exactly what the industry needs.

GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show

PAST SEASONS FROM Fashion East: Gareth Wrighton