LONDON — Having won acclaim from industry experts in Paris for his modern and poetic take on men’s tailoring as one of nine finalists for this year’s LVMH Young Fashion Designer Award, Aaron Esch is in growth mode.

This season, he is expanding his young brand of the same name to include women’s clothing. The designs will be revealed during his first runway appearance on Monday night during London Fashion Week.

The show will be held at Tate Modern with more than 25 models walking through a former gallery space on the seventh floor. The space overlooks the Millennium Bridge, which features a wooden floor that reminds it of “student housing.”

Esch said the event was inspired by old Helmut Lang shows. “It’s like the white chairs, the lamps on the floor, the clothes. That’s all,” he said.

The British designer, who was born and raised in Islington, London, launched his label immediately after graduating from Central Saint Martins with a Masters in Fashion Design.

His designs contrast traditional tailoring with construction and details borrowed from women’s clothing. Examples include jeans with a puffy skirt, halter-neck vests, and hoodies with ties.

The brand is stocked in six retailers worldwide: Ssense, LN-CC, Machine-A, Browns and H. Lorenzo, and Antonioli.

During a preview with WWD, Esh said adding women made sense because buyers and clients — and even Zendaya — were asking for it. Last month, the “Euphoria” star wore a custom-designed wool bra from the brand for her lead role in the SmartWater campaign.

“You could dress her up in a black blazer and she would look amazing. We’ve said ‘no’ to all the red carpet, press and celebrity requests over the past year. Even it was her. It just made sense for the brand. I think there was a real intersection between our point of view and what “You represent him.”

The designer added that Zendaya kept the bra in the end. “She wasn’t supposed to do it, but she asked us to, which I think shows how things turned out for everyone.”

Aaron Ash

Courtesy of Aaron Esch

Esch said he realizes that his namesake brand can be categorized as a brand with a “very niche point of view on menswear,” and introducing womenswear allows him to broaden his appeal and vision.

He said he wanted to create a wardrobe that was not bound by traditional rules about gender.

“Of course there are dresses for women, but they’re really just one rail of clothing that all comes together. I think there’s this unity, and that they sit together in a way that’s not about androgyny. It’s more about how I see modern clothing. My women are very feminine, charming and beautiful, and so are the men.” He added: “At the same time, both of them can have masculine shoulders.”

The designer said his personal favorites include bubble skirts, pleated dresses, a keyhole blouse, a floor-length pencil skirt, and an evening dress “with a very modest finish that could be a totally bad thing, but in the context of this dress, it feels amazing.”

The leather used in the collection, which looks like butter and drapes perfectly over the body according to Esh, is from Ecco, the Danish shoe brand that also supplies premium leather to major luxury players. The ripped jeans are made of denim fabric by Isko from Türkiye.

“I think denim and leather add a new level of depth to the wardrobe I’m building. Leather feels very luxurious and denim is completely on trend. However, having them in that wardrobe feels very casual and youthful,” Esch said.

“The youthfulness, the mixing of high-level elements of traditional luxury with a very specific East London subculture, seems very serious to me. He added: “It relates to people I met in Paris, and the boys and girls from Saint Martins wear them to a party on a Saturday night in 4:00 AM in Dalston.”

The entire collection is produced in London. It may be more expensive, but Esch believes his brand is “reasonably priced for the fabric and finish options.” A two-button blazer from the brand’s fall 2023 collection is priced at £1,000, while the wrap trousers are priced at £840.

“I work in a factory (in Forest Gate in east London). They are like professional tailors, and they are expensive, but they deliver their services up to my expectations. If that means our margins are down a bit now, but in the long term, we have credibility,” he said. “We make good clothes.”

Currently, the designer runs the brand with a small team from the basement of his aunt’s dry cleaning shop on Essex Road in Islington, which she has owned since the 1960s. The basement is used to host a clothing factory.

“It sounds like a cliché. My aunt is in her 80s. If I don’t know how to sew something, I go upstairs, she pins it and it’s done. She really enjoys me being there. I think we give her a lot of energy,” Esch said. “To do a lot of hustle and bustle running this new business.”

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