Oliver Spencer tells us about his first shoppable show
Welcome to the future, menswear fans.
The idea of immediately shoppable catwalks has been anticipated by fashion journalists and fans alike for a while now, but this season saw the first designers really commit to it at New York Fashion Week (see: the Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss shows). However, they’ve all got one thing in common: all of the shows across the Atlantic were womenswear. When it comes to menswear, British designer Oliver Spencer is leading the charge on Tuesday.
Taking things off the menswear grid, he's showing his first "see now, buy now" men's collection at the Brewer Street Car Park in Soho during the ordinarily female-focussed London Fashion Week. Featuring a hand-selected crop of cool, wear-anywhere looks from his Autumn/Winter 2016 collection - originally shown at London Collections Men in January - the designer has also included a few exclusive, special edition items for the occasion.
To make it happen, he's teamed up with new social media platform Vero. This means that as the models march out, any person using the app will be able to purchase the clothes directly from their backs. In short, it's the kind of instant sartorial gratification that we're behind 100 per cent - which is why we've signed up to Vero too (download the app and search for "British GQ" to follow us).
Considering the momentousness of the event, we wanted to sit down with Spencer to talk about how it all came about. Here, he tells us what to expect the show, gives us a hint about the exclusive items in the collection, and why shaking up the fashion industry is the only way to go.
GQ: We’ve just seen the first ‘see now, buy now’ shows at NYFW. What will set your show apart?
Oliver Spencer: I think our calling card on this is that we are a menswear show - we’re the first sole menswear show to do it. Also, the shows in New York were all done directly off an iPad or through [brands’] websites - not through Vero, like ours. Imagine if this app gets huge traction, if it becomes the next Instagram, and you can sell directly through it. This is what’s got me really excited.
Are you doing this to shake-up the London menswear scene?
I’m never afraid for a bit of change. Essentially, we’re a lifestyle brand that’s involved in the fashion business. So when we dress people, [for example,] we dress them with an eye always on our customer. Our whole ethos is to move forward. And I think this is a really interesting way to move forward right now because I think the participation of a customer in the catwalk environment is no bad thing. It’s been an exclusive zone for journalists and buyers for a long, long time, and at the end of the day we’re only as good as the customers we work for. The closer we get to them, the better. I’m not sure they’re all going to get it immediately, but that doesn’t matter - it’s taking them one step closer.
Some of this will be a re-staging of your A/W ‘16 show at LCM, but there’s going to be a few exclusives thrown in right?
There will be more velvet in this show, and more pinstripe.
A continuation of that Seventies rock’n’roll vibe from January?
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Which is what that show was all about. Very rock’n’roll and it’s going to continue in that vein, but be a little more commercial. We’re totally excited about it, and I’m very interested to see how it’s perceived. I’m not sure everyone in the menswear industry is really totally happy about it, but I want to bash down the door and be the first one shouting.
How did this partnership come about?
[The people behind Vero] are already really great customers, and they approached me. That was that. I was just delighted.
How does the actual shopping aspect work?
We’ll be pre-shooting the show backstage and it will be live-fed through the app onto your phone, and at that point you’ll have the option to buy one piece from that look. Then after the show you can go back and review what you’ve highlighted, and you can order that through the app there and then.
Will this be a regular thing every season?
I can’t answer that yet, but the basic thing is that this is change and change is good. I think it’s a very exciting time.
BY NICK CARVELL
Nick is Associate Style Editor of British GQ
Sunday 18 September 2016