British designer John Alexander Skelton designs iconically English menswear. Inspired by an exploration of the working class uniform, his collections delve into the stereotypes, perceptions and reality of Britishness. Collections have been born of a fascination with ‘skally’ gang style, revolving around the attitude, style and sense of identity held by different Gang’s. Focusing on opposing gang’s from Liverpool that adopted the ‘chav’ style, Skelton has also combined his fascination with Brutalist Architecture. Delving into the different aesthetic nuances, Skelton’s fascination revolves around the use of clothing to conceal identity, and the adoption of specific items of clothing to form the basis of a ‘street uniform’.
His work has been inspired by the ‘Mass Observation’ survey, which began in Bolton in 1936, documenting the mundane aspects and minutiae of mill workers’ lives, the survey created an unparalleled archive of a place in time bound by the social, the political and the economic. Obsessed by the concept of class, past and present, Skelton is fascinated with clothing as a social signifier, its representation of culture, and influence due to societal shifts, positive and negative.
Skelton’s silhouettes combine traditional tailoring and sportswear materials to create strong, masculine forms. Collections have ranged from understated all natural tonality, to brilliant and graphic combinations of orange and blue. Concealed details and hidden fastenings create function, giving it a strong sense of identity that embodies structure and strength. Using natural and synthetic fibers, John Alexander Skelton’s collections fuse craftsmanship with attitude, pushing the traditional codes of gentlemen’s tailoring. Suit’s in unexpected materials appropriated from the sportswear market are reinterpreted for formal use, while transitioning fabric’s not usually associated with tailoring, are combined to emphasize the individuality of the collection.
Finding out that only three per cent of the wool woven in the UK is from British fleece, spurred Skelton on to find yarn produced from British fleece, spun by one of the only spinners left in the country, and a mill that could weave it to his specification. Collection knitwear also utilizes British yarn, while shirting is handwoven, hand spun and sourced from sustainable and eco-friendly suppliers.
Skelton strives to raise awareness on the polluting impact of the apparel industry on the environment, by using local resources, repurposed materials and one hundred per cent eco-friendly production. He believes that sustainability needs to be integral to the lexicon of fashion, calling for urgent change within the industry.