James Long's background story for his Spring collection was a Thai boxing star, falling from grace and giving up his career to become a hippie (probably in Ibiza during the sixties, not the rave years). His boxing ribbons had been ripped apart and sewn on, seemingly haphazardly, to denim jackets and jeans. The laid-back yet sporty ethos of the clothes was summed up in a striped hoodie—a sort of East London take on the Baja version—while the boxing could be seen in elastic waists on both shorts and trousers. "Sports Jesus" was what Long called his guy, and it felt apt.
There was a thrifty scrap-heap feel to it all—a bomber jacket in scrunchable aluminium leather looked as if it had been crafted out of metallic emergency blankets. The rawness felt personal, and Long mentioned the Hackney photographer Tom Hunter, known for his connection to squatting, as a reference. Stripes were an obvious theme, running through everything from Lurex socks to a hybrid of sports shoe and Jesus sandal with multicolored straps, not to mention the sweaters, intarsia knits, double-bonded jerseys, and the models' hair. Backstage, Long said he had decided not to produce any digital prints for the collection and instead focus on making each piece special, opting for bonding for the handwritten, abstract "James" seen on tunics and tops.
"I've gotten braver with color," Long said, highlighting how his customers seemed to be a lot bolder, too, when it comes to venturing outside the traditional male palette. This translated into patterns that reminded you of Pink Floyd's prism cover for The Dark Side of the Moon—primary colors on a dark background. Despite the overloaded backstory, this was an easy-to-like outing from Long, where even the development of last season's quilting into bubble knits felt relaxed and organic. Some people might dismiss this as commercialism, but it would be more accurate to call it focused.