The Future Of Menswear Is Here
Talent is nothing without opportunity. But while talent is shared equally throughout the population, opportunity is not. This is an uncomfortable truth in the fashion industry, a place where privilege has a long history of yielding access and where the right hometown, the right school or even the right internship can make the difference between mainstream success and languishing in obscurity. However, this model, which has held sway for decades, surely can’t last.
In order to reflect the growing diversity of its global audience, the fashion industry urgently needs to look beyond its borders and find new voices that are able to offer fresh perspectives. Last year, we decided to do just that with MR PORTER FUTURES in partnership with Klarna, a new scheme to discover, develop and provide a platform for the next generation of menswear designers.
The first step was a global outreach programme. Using an anonymous review process designed to eliminate conscious or unconscious bias, we whittled more than a thousand applications from around the world to just 10. From that shortlist, a final three were selected by committee, who were then invited to join a year-long programme of design, production and brand development. At the end of the year, they would be given the chance to debut their very own menswear collections exclusively on MR PORTER.
One year on, our three MR PORTER FUTURES are ready to step into the spotlight – and share with us what they’ve been working on.
Watch our short film, above, to learn more about the process, meet the candidates and discover their collections. And read on to hear more from them.
By Messrs Julian Canda and Ryan Edmonds
Portland, Oregon, natives Messrs Julian Canda and Ryan Edmonds named their brand Miles Leon after their grandfathers in a reflection of the strong sense of heritage that runs through their designs. “We design with the idea that these are meant to become archival pieces, pieces that you’ll pass down,” Edmonds says. “What really resonates with us is this idea of owning a few nice things, taking care of them, and making them last.”
Eschewing the twitchy trends of fast fashion in favour of something altogether slower and more considered, the debut collection from Miles Leon finds inspiration in an unusual place: the garden. This manifests itself in purposeful design, workwear-inspired silhouettes and a strong focus on natural fabrics such as cotton, wool and linen.
But it’s not just through the clothing that the collection’s central theme is expressed. “A quote we have on the wall in the studio is: ‘The wise gardener waters the roots’,” Canda says. “It’s there to remind us of what we’re trying to grow. Not just externally with what we’re designing, but how we’re managing our personal growth internally, too. What are we nurturing? What are we giving our time to?”
By Ms Kat Tua
Based in Sydney but originally hailing from New Zealand, Ms Kat Tua celebrates her Māori heritage with MANAAKI, a menswear label whose debut collection is partly inspired by reggae legend Mr Bob Marley. “He played a concert in Auckland in 1979, which brought together a lot of different cultures at a time when racism was a real problem in New Zealand,” she says.
Along with Marley, whose love of football and penchant for mismatched tracksuits were the influence behind MANAAKI’s laid-back sportswear pieces, the collection also pays homage to the Polynesian Panther Party, a New Zealand-based organisation who advocated for Māori rights. The group had an idiosyncratic style – “they would wear these black leather bomber jackets with colourful aloha shirts underneath,” Tua says, referencing an old photograph that was one of the collection’s jumping-off points.
It has been a wild ride for Tua, who has worked in fashion for years, but only recently decided to leave her job and focus on starting her own brand. “A year ago, I was working as an Uber driver,” she says. “Now, I’m a menswear designer.”
Saif Ud Deen
By Mr Saif Ud Deen
Residents of Manchester, UK will be delighted to see their hometown represented in MR PORTER FUTURES – but it might not be the ringing endorsement they were hoping for. “It’s always raining.” laughs Mr Saif Ud Deen, 24, whose self-titled, function-first menswear label is designed, he says, with the wet weather of his hometown in mind.
In Other Words – the brand’s debut collection – is an unapologetically personal project, taking inspiration not only from Manchester’s soggy climate, but also from his heritage as a third-generation Pakistani immigrant and practicing Muslim. “When I was a kid, I’d go straight from the mosque to playing football in the park,” he says. “I’d still be wearing my long shirt and I’d have to tuck it into my trousers to play.”
The answer? Long shirt dresses with zips at the waist for unzipping and removing the bottom half when no longer required. It’s a piece of design with such clear utility to such a large number of people that you wonder why it hasn’t been done before. Other details in the collection include zips and buttons designed for ease during religious ablutions: “Every shirt or jacket in the collection has a zip in the arm that runs from the cuff all the way to the armpit,” Ud Deen says. “You can unzip the sleeve and button it onto the shoulder point while washing your hands and arms.”
Despite the intensely personal nature of this debut collection, Ud Deen is quick to point out that his clothes are for everybody to enjoy – and the functional details are not just intended for religious purposes. “The model who wore the shirt during our photoshoot used the zip sleeve feature while eating his lunch,” he says.