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Sports Banger debut fashion show AW19
Photography @tony_grove

London bootlegger Sports Banger threw the vibiest show of fashion week

Founder Jonny Banger turned the runway into an acid rave at his Tottenham studio

It’s a well-known fact that, when it comes to fashion week, some of the most exciting shows happen way off schedule and far from the beaten track. Proving just that was London bootlegger Sports Banger. Having made his name with his politically charged knock-off tees that remix the Nike Swoosh with the NHS logo, and blast the UK’s Tory government at every available chance, founder Jonny Banger threw his first ever fashion show this weekend.

Taking place out at Banger’s studio in Seven Sisters, the DIY event turned the runway into an acid rave, as models vogued and posed their way through the smoke-filled, sweaty space, and the audience (which included artist Jeremy Deller and Jaime Winstone) shouted enthusiastically from the benches. At one point, Deller climbed onto one to get a better look and danced so hard it felt like it was definitely going to split in half.

“It’s all just a bunch of my friends, on the runway and off, really,” Banger explained afterwards, as everyone poured out into the tiny yard for post-show drinks. “I’d wanted to do a fashion show for ages and it was a bit of an excuse to throw a party. I found out it was London Fashion Week this weekend and was just like ‘fuck it, I’m doing it!”

Having worked closely with Tottenham Textiles workshop and its young apprentices to create it, the collection itself was made up of repurposed pieces from his core collection, as well as reworked pieces from the recent Slazenger Banger collab that didn’t sell: “I had a load of leftover lilos from the Slazenger line, because who puts a lilo in their suitcase when they’re going on holiday? No one – so I made tracksuits and MA-1 bombers out of them. It only really all came together on Wednesday to be honest, it’s been mad. I didn’t realise how much work went into (shows).” Each of the vinyl pieces were designed in collaboration with London-based Romanian designer Ancuta Sarca, who Banger met when she came to one of his Mega Raves. 

“I had a load of leftover lilos from the Slazenger line, because who puts a lilo in their suitcase when they’re going on holiday? No one – so I made tracksuits and MA-1 bombers out of them” – Jonny Banger

Other looks included sweatshirts and hoodies, an oversized shirt and trouser set covered in dogs which channelled the 90s Moschino and Iceberg looks beloved by the UK garage scene, and two-piece trackies featuring piano strips down the arms and legs, as worn by the full cast as they took their final lap of the delivery box-lined catwalk. With the Sports Banger logo plastered over pretty much everything, looks were finished with bucket hats, scarves, balaclavas, and sports towels, as well as a series of matching dog-sized pieces which were modelled by Chino the staffie (yes, everyone went nuts).

It wasn’t just Chino making a cameo, though: also on the line-up were long-time fans of the label (and friends) such as London MC Novelist, Manchester-based designer Meme Gold, and legendary DJ and producer Skream – not that you’d know it, given he was hidden inside a huge yellow hazmat and carrying a massive Mitsubishi in his arms.   

Jonny might have explained later that he doesn’t take fashion that seriously (“It’s all a bit bollocks isn’t it, really?”), but the night and the collection itself genuinely felt like a pretty major moment for the label. Having grown the brand from an off-the-cuff t-shirt calling for the release of Tulisa to what it stands at now – with a pretty high profile collab, appearances in a series of high fashion editorials in magazines including Vogue Paris, and as of this weekend, a fashion show under its belt – the designer has established a massive following in just a few short years, and proved himself a definite one to watch on the underground fashion scene.

At a time when the UK’s future is so wildly uncertain and the creative industries are struggling as a consequence, and major fashion labels continue to mine the depths of youth culture for commercial gain, seeing such a diverse group of people come together to throw a DIY rave runway show with such wild energy and authenticity – particularly at a time when London nightlife is in such a state of emergency – made it clear that exciting things are still bubbling away under the surface. You just need to know where to look.  

Watch a 360 video of the show by @danbuckjoyce below.