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Interview: Liam Hodges on collaborations, commerciality and 90s escapism

Liam Hodges AW18

90s youth culture was reimagined last night when designer Liam Hodges showcased his AW18 collection ‘EVERYBODY’S FREE’.

Described as a designer that ‘noticeably grows every season’ by WGSN’s Menswear Director Volker Ketteniss, Hodges has created a collection to be worn everywhere – from dance floors to the street, to drinking in bars.

Playing on references to fun being something to live for and not to grow out of, Hodges’ show was a return to youthful pleasures. Looking to 90s kids’ TV shows for influence, with polka dot Mr Blobby knits and cartoon graphics, Hodges then  paired this aesthetic with wearable, smarter matching denim and bleach-striped jeans.

I caught up with the designer after the show to talk collaborations, influences and finding the balance between commercial needs and design aesthetics.

 

Who are you dressing with this AW18 collection? 

I guess it’s for my mates – people my age and possibly a bit older, this time. I do feel as though there are some more tasteful and more grown-up silhouettes in the collection this time round – but perhaps that’s because I’m going to be 30 soon…

 

As a designer, you’re pretty well stocked, from Farfetch to Dover Street Market. How important is it that this collection is commercial?

 I think it is important – but then I think if that’s your only focus, it stops being exciting. You can’t just think ‘oh, that’s sold, let’s just build on that’. Buyers and customers want to be excited. I think that the way people are buying menswear is completely changing, so it’s not simply about being commercial but making sure that it’s interesting enough to be so.

 

Many designers have to get that tricky balance between the commercial and their design aesthetic – you seem to do both. How do you get the balance right?

 I was lucky enough to have the first few seasons where I wasn’t thinking about sales or the commercial side. I just wanted to build a business that was exciting for me and test what I wanted then it started working. That’s when it became about maintaining the commerciality but maintaining the fun of it all too.

 

You already have a lot of collaborations under your belt – G-Stock, Levis and, of course, FILA, in this collection. How important are collaborations to you and how do you choose which brands to work with?

 They’re obviously important but it’s definitely about making it work in what’s correct for the brand. It also comes down to what they’re prepared to let me do and how much leeway they can give me. You have conversations with some brands and they just want you to write your name on something.

 

LFWM has a pretty unique reputation where streetwear coexists alongside high-end tailoring. A few days ago, Dylan Jones’ highlighted you as a designer that could have only ever emerged from this environment. What do you make of that and how important is London to your designs?  

That’s amazing – yeah. London is very important to what I do. From the street culture to just everything else; all I can say is that I’m really just making what I live.

 

At WGSN, we’re all about the future – what’s next for you?

 I haven’t got that far – probably go to the pub? Then we’ll see what’s next.

 

For catwalk analysis, images and insight – head to WGSN.

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