“Normality equals banality, frivolity. Ultimately virality. NORMAL IS DANGEROUS!” reads the opening salvo to Liam Hodge’s latest outing 001: Thin Ice, which, yes, does feel a bit like the lyrics to a dodgy Underworld tune from 1997 or something that Jez from Peep Show would cook up after a particularly heavy weekend (“This is outrageous. This is contagious.”) , but you definitely can’t accuse Hodges of banality.
One of young London menswear’s big names, since 2013, Hodges has been making his own buoyant version of Luxury Streetwear to plenty of critical acclaim. His clothes meld high, low, vintage and sportswear into a vibrant East London party uniform. He’s collaborated with Fila and was one of the earlier British designers to champion the upmarket tracksuit, but what to do when the context for your clothes – having a good time, going out, being free – are removed?
For Hodges, it seems, you look to vintage stores, the Old West and our new lives online. His first collection made entirely during lockdown, Thin Ice features cowboy boots and acid wash denim (a Hodges signature) imprinted with naïve skull and cross bone symbols. Upcycling, reworking, another LH core principle, is explored through thrift shops “working with vintage t-shirts as a point of study, exploring how they can be re-used.” Hats are crocheted out of old tees, shorts are conjured out of original workwear and multiple retro cycling jerseys are stitched together to create a Franken-jersey, the cycling jersey to end all cycling jerseys. Designer clothes with an industrious spirit. Visible seams and late nights cutting and sewing.
“We refined our material practices and looked to new ways of reducing our wastage,” says Hodges of his new collection, “utilising vintage and repurposed materials to create up cycled and customisable pieces to inspire ingenuity and unspoken collaboration across nations during a time of isolation.”
“The collection is a move to distance ourselves from the archaic value chain and feedback loop of the industry,”he adds.
With no runways, after parties or international travel, the pillars of the fun and frivolity of modern fashion, designers have retreated into their own worlds, recalling what it is that makes them want to make clothes. For Hodges, the colour and jubilation of his work remains, added is an even more apparent emphasis on working with what’s around him and us. Do it yourself. Do it better.
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“We need to throw out the rulebook, normal is a misadventure, a re-incarnated new world awaits.”
See you there, Liam.
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