The landscape of London Fashion Week is rapidly changing. Yesterday Scottish designer Jonathan Saunders announced his resignation and the closure of his company and, less than 24 hours later, Canadian designer Thomas Tait has announced that he is quitting the runway. Instead, the designer says that he will be presenting his new collections via one-on-one appointments with press and buyers at Paris Fashion Week.
“It’s a small and strategic decision to take the time I feel my work deserves, and to refocus and redevelop how we actually present the clothes,” said Tait in an interview with WWD. “There is so much work that goes into what I do, and it’s very much part of the brand DNA to really develop something that inside and out is extremely well considered,” he went on to say.
“So I often feel as if – with a catwalk show – although you have a sort of sensationalised moment, I do tend to leave the experience of the show and feel as if there is so much more we’ve been working on that no one could reasonably pick up on in the moment of the show.”
As for whether he’d ever return to the runway, he’s definitely not ruling out the possibility. “I’d be lying if I said I have no vision of returning to the runway; that’s definitely on the map,” he said. “It could be in a couple of seasons, it could be in a couple of years. Who knows? But I want to come back with something that will hopefully exemplify my experience over the last few years showing at London Fashion Week and also be a testament to the time that I am taking now to reassess how people interact with the clothes.”
Last season Tait, who was the youngest student ever to complete Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion course, has received critical acclaim for his signature blend of conceptual couture and hardcore tailoring. Last year he won the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize and, just last month, won the Emerging Womenswear Designer at the British Fashion Awards.
But Tait isn’t the only designer making this kind of reassessment; yesterday Hunter Original announced that it would be leaving the London Fashion Week schedule and communicating directly with its audience via music festivals and its stores. Is the runway show a tired and outdated concept? Some designers certainly seem to think so.
Watch Thomas Tait SS16 below and check out the gallery above for backstage images.