Jade Clark top and trousers
Graduate menswear collections have been a thing for around 75 years, so you'd have thought that just about every "first" would have been conquered by now, lost in an embarrassing sphere of leopard-print sarongs and vinyl newsboy caps. However, I'm 96 percent sure (that other four percent goes to Japan, btw; their graduate collections are insane) that nobody has ever released the preserve of slutty teenage girls – iridescent stripper shoes, mesh crop tops and fluffy, pink bags – in any menswear collection before, let alone a graduate collection, one that's meant to demonstrate your eye for design to the entire fashion industry.
Jade Clark, a recent graduate from De Montfort University in Leicester, has done exactly that, which is equal parts hilarious, ballsy and amazing. So we shot a chunk of her collection and spoke to her about how she intends to make the bland landscape of contemporary mainstream menswear a much sexier proposal.
Jade Clark backpack and trousers
VICE: So, Jade, what's with all the see-through stuff in your collection? You don't see much menswear that intentionally shows skin.
Jade Clark: I just don't think there's enough nudity in male fashion. I love the idea of lots of layering up, but still having a cheeky nipple on show where I can throw one in.
You think men's fashion needs to be sexier?
Yes, definitely! Who doesn't? I think male fashion needs to start pushing the boundaries more and stop being so formal and boring.
Jade Clark backpack
Is that what the crop tops are about? Lightening everything up a bit?
Well, I've always had a thing with boys in crop tops, generally. I'm not sure why, though. I think it's a confidence thing, you know? A crop top definitely isn't something every boy could wear on a day-to-day basis, so it takes balls to pull one off. Also, you know when you see those really obese guys sat in town all day, stuffing their faces with a Greggs, or whatever? Their T-shirts are always too small for them, so they look like crop tops, and I just thought 'How much better would that look on a fittie?'
You were right, obviously. How else do you plan on making menswear sexier?
Hmm, that's a hard one. I think I'm just going to have to experiment. Crazy faux-furs, boat-loads of spandex and more iridescent and holographic stuff is always going to be a winner, though, I think.
Jade Clark trousers, Reebok shoes
Nice. Let's get back to the present. Does your collection have a grand theme running through it? Or is it purely just because you like the way it looks?
The theme was mainly to do with gang crime and hidden identity, but wanting to tip that on its head and camp it up a bit with a pastel palette and sheer layers to hopefully subvert the normal stereotypes of that kind of culture.
A lot of designers seem to be into gang-influenced stuff and sportswear at the moment, why do you think that is?
Yeah, they do. I think it has a lot to do with grime making a bit of a comeback, meaning all the people who used to look down on sportswear are now rocking around in Air Max 90s and that kind of thing, which is obviously going to influence designers in whatever way. I'm personally into it because who doesn't like a badboy? Never mind the fact that there's a lot of fun to be had with that kind of design.
Jade Clark mask
Were the masks you put on your models at your runway show a nod to having fun with that kind of design?
Exactly that, yeah. I was trying to reference that hidden identity thing that naughty boys try to get away with by wearing balaclavas and that kind of thing, but in a much sillier, camped-up way.
I know there was a theme behind your collection, but I get the impression you don't necessarily subscribe to the idea that fashion has to have some profound meaning behind it, like a lot of designers seem to. Is that right?
No, I don't think it does at all. The way I look at it is, as long as you're having fun with it, fuck it. Fashion doesn't have to be rationalised with an in-depth concept, as long as you like the way it looks, I think that's enough.
Jade Clark shorts, Reebok shoes
That's refreshing to hear. Where do you think people are going to wear your clothes? As amazing as they are, I can't really imagine many people wearing them around London or any other UK city, really.
I've had a lot of interest from Tokyo, Korea and the sorts of places where boys aren't so shy and are are willing to try new stuff out, so that's exciting. Rita Ora wore my SICK top recently, too, which is great, because it shows that girls can sport it just as well as boys. But just to see boys bossing about, day-to-day, in a BADMAN T-shirt would be amazing.
Photographer: Vic Lentaigne
Stylist: Sam Voulters
Stylist's Assistant: Amber Dixon
Models: John and Shola
Interview: Jamie Clifton
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