“I can’t wait for you to see our invites!” Kit Neale is excited, and rightly so. The label he launched at London Fashion Week in February 2012 – the season Dylan Jones first confirmed plans for a men’s event to contest LFW – will be presenting solo at London Collections: Men AW14.
Formerly part of the Fashion East crew, last month the label was named alongside Swedish pair Common and footwear designer Diego Vanassibara, as a new recipient of NEWGEN MEN, the Topman sponsored initiative active since 2009.
“We are very grateful to the BFC and Topman for selecting us to be included in their NEWGEN gang,” he continues. “It is an incredible programme that shows its success in the amazing alumni that has shown before.”
Of his peers, Craig Green and Astrid Andersen top the must see list. “We always look forward to seeing what Craig Green’s got up his sleeve, and how Astrid Andersen will continue to grow and develop. They’re the nicest people and I wanna buy everything I see.”
On the prospect of pulling it off without the network Fashion East provides, Kit says, “It is a lot more pressure and more workload, but the freedom and creativity to plan your own presentation is very exciting.”
Previously his models have been filmed doing the Macarena in motorbike helmets, perched atop a giant green snake, and sat around a greasy spoon in comically large slippers.
For SS14 the label upped its game with the slickest presentation yet and a video to match, courtesy of director Rhys Frampton. It paid off, and Kit Neale has since produced the ‘Tutti Frutti’ line with Bompas & Parr for Kew Gardens – stocked exclusively at Opening Ceremony – and seen his lobster prints adorn Sky digital boxes.
Last month saw the launch of a new website complete with an e-commerce store “and everything”, the significance of which isn’t lost on Neale. “I think it is important for emerging brands to establish themselves as quickly as possible. We are keen to continually develop our brand presence and this includes in the digital field.”
The latest collection – inspired by his native Peckham – brilliantly illustrates his preoccupation with bright colours and print, a typically Kit Neale trait that devours each collection, as it offers “the opportunity to start with a blank canvas and truly stamp your mark on it,” he says.
Talking about SE15, an area that’s invited much attention in 2013 thanks to the extension of the London Overground. Neale advises, “Peckham is an incredible neighbourhood, it served me well while I was growing up.”
“For as long as I can remember the council has been trying to regenerate Peckham but failed. I think it’s a positive move that the change we are seeing in Peckham is happening more organically and not forced by government officials. I just hope the locals that have built Peckham’s history benefit from its future fortunes.”
For the forthcoming season – which will be presented in just two weeks – Kit Neale has gone down the road for inspiration. “AW14 is turning out to be a homage to the area of Elephant and Castle,” he advises, and the aforementioned invites suggest as much, being an Elephant and Castle shaped car air freshener in suitably bright colours.
And after that, Waterloo? “Maybe.”
Words and styling: Zoe Whitfield
Photography: Charlotte Hadden
Grooming: Sarah Kate Thorne using Nars Cosmetics.
Model: Jackson Hale @ SUPA