Urban oasis

Neil Barrett on merging 90s minimalism with military engineering for SS23
Fashion | 17 June 2022

“The SS23 show is set in this surreal landscape inside an industrial gallery space,” Neil Barrett tells us, describing the landscape for his latest menswear offering. “It’s the concept of nature coming back into the open space but it’s also about me coming back to my nature, which is my heritage in tailoring and also 90s minimalism, which is, for me, so important. It was when my career was launched and it still is relevant and resonates today. I have so many friends of all ages who still wear that type of garment. I was also very fortunate to have been there to know every single garment, how they started, so I can now think how to adapt that to make it relevant for the younger generation.”

Rethinking and reworking from a blueprint Barrett not only knows well, but had a major hand in creating, the designer looked to military uniforms for inspiration and the way utilitarian garments are engineered towards specific roles and conditions. “Every detail in the collection comes from authentic military uniform and I’ve applied it to the uniform of today: sweatshirts, t-shirts, jeans, etc.”

Approaching ideas of tailoring from this new angle, the resulting collection cleverly skews traditional ideas in tune with a new world. “Garments are engineered for heat so the wind flows around the body,” continues Barrett, showing us hybrid t-shirts crafted with mesh layers. Perforation is another key method of reconstruction and subversion, punctuating fabrics with eyelets that become a form of decoration alongside sequins that shimmer in the baking sun. Elsewhere, cargo pockets become ornamental as silhouettes are subtly pierced and slashed, revealing glimpses of skin – or not, with the closure of a zip. Worn by a diverse cast that mixed fresh faces with established Barrett models, as Barrett says, here, was a wardrobe that crossed generations: “[designed] for both a 49-year-old and a 19-year-old.”

GALLERYCatwalk images from Neil Barrett SPRING-SUMMER-2023