J.W. Anderson's most popular pieces can cause the biggest of scuffles on the shop floor, and he's keen to see the J.W. brand go globally mass market (hence why he never used his first name, Jonathan, stuck to his initials, and curated his Topshop collaboration with everything from skirts to posters and pencils). And yet, with show notes that read more like a theorem than a fancy paragraph about fashion, and a collection so boldly stripped back to challenge the LFW status quo of pretty, of traditional, of the dress-heavy circuit, you’d think the Alexa Chung-adored J Dubs would be in a constant state of turmoil. But no… And of course, Miss Chung and co. were cheering the Northern Irish lad along from the front row.
Mass or concept? Easy or directional? Dip in or get fully dedicated? A first glance at his radically minimal collection and you could instantly reject it as too serious or forward-thinking, but look again and you'll find that the talented Mr Anderson has quite miraculously walked the line between those two extremes of the shopping spectrum. You don’t HAVE to wear it the strict J.W. way – in fact, he’d probably want you to do your own thing. So take one of the roll-neck bandaged jumpers and wear it with jeans. Ignore the frozen-in-a-wind-tunnel hair and those simple boxy shift dresses or cape-backed, high-necked tops look rather modern and chic, rather than clinical or austere. On an average girl those mini skirts would look far better sans the white slip on flats. And those baggy leather trousers with the X strap front are likely to be popping up in the wardrobes of fashion editors in six months’ time, worn with a fluffy jumper or sweatshirt in no time.
These are clothes that could last in your wardrobe because nothing exposes them as of-this-moment. i.e. when you see the Givenchy panther print sweatshirt, you know exactly when and where it had it’s coolest moment. Now, maybe no one is as keen on wearing them. How has he done it? The fact that colours were muted, aside from a flash of tomato red and a few well-placed bright bands across white, and that one faded-out cartoon print (which reminded us in a nostalgic way of your favourite old PJs or superhero t-shirt) only featured on two items, so there aren’t any in-yer-face ‘branded’ indicators of this line. In addition to the colourscheme and unfussy fabrics, not a single jot of embellishment or superfluous pretty-ing up was lavished on these garments – even the fastenings were utilitarian tied up straps. So many of the show’s pieces – from the tunics worn over trousers to the slit-back dresses which revealed very short minis underneath (LOVED those, even if we don’t love the backs of our legs) – have more mileage than you think.
An Addison Lee driver once, quite understandably, proffered a question as the fashion team were wildly dissecting one show en route to another – ‘If you have to take away a lot, then how is it good in the first place?’ Vision, my friend! The discussion! The enjoyment of seeing how a collection and a range can evolve from the moment it hits the catwalk to the point were buyers get it onto the rails. It’s interesting to experience a runway that divides the room. Far better to own a strong opinion on Anderson than to come away feeling ‘meh’.