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Aaron Esh SS23
Photography Chris Lensz

Menswear designer Aaron Esh is rewriting the masculine archetype

We catch up with London’s rising designer as he makes a case for no Tory policies and Monster Munch sandwiches

Aaron Esh makes clothes for everyday men that are ultimately worn by those working in fashion. That’s not necessarily a distinction the designer himself would make, but it’s indicative of Esh working beyond his time, encouraging “ordinary” men to swerve outside of their margins with a halter-necked waistcoat or a skirted trouser in sensible, plain-woven wool. “I want to propose a new vision of masculinity,” he says. “Romance, love, and chic.” Most of this is achieved with subtle, off-kilter quirks: a nipped-waist shirt, suit trousers with wraparound sashes, and hoodies that can be cinched against the torso with tie-fastenings. “It’s about taking a luxury wardrobe and placing it in east London, be that on a date night or on your way home from a sesh. How does that boy wear a beautifully tailored suit?,” he says. 

Built around the romance of 1970s French cinema, Esh cast his SS23 models as modern-day Alain Delons (aloof with insolent good looks) for a collection suffused with nostalgia – his teardrop Comma shoes, 3D-printed shoulders, and copper-clasped vests pay homage to his Polish mother, who worked as a sculptor. “We want to show there can be allure to menswear with softness, redefining what masculinity means within a wardrobe.” It’s an attitude that won Esh a scholarship from Alexander McQueen to complete his MA at Central Saint Martins, and bucks the accepted cultural script surrounding men; that we are irredeemable abusers, conferred with cruelty at birth. For Esh, a bubbled-hem skirt and ruff-necked shirt reconsiders men as more – more feeling, more emancipated. Below, we catch up with the designer as he sheds light on his “no Tory policy” and Monster Munch sandwiches. 

Hey Aaron! Can you guide us through some of the inspirations behind the latest collection? 

Aaron Esh: The collection research was based on Alain Delon and romantic French cinema from the 70s. I worked with Jamie Reid on the lookbook, which we shot at Thamesmead (where A Clockwork Orange was filmed). We wanted to juxtapose a feeling of romance, serenity, and elegance against London’s concrete architecture. The make-up, hair, and casting drew on the the idea of boys being in Thamesmead at some rave, and then walking home in the early hours of the morning.

 Which pieces are totemic of the collection as a whole? 

Aaron Esh: The Tied Hoodie, the Comma Shoe, and the Puff Skirt Trouser.

Did you have a freakum outfit when you were growing up?

Aaron Esh: It was a N*E*R*D trucker cap, I was obsessed with Pharrell. 

Would you design Rishi Sunak's next TV look for £10,000? What would you design lol?

Aaron Esh:  I have a no Tory policy.

What’s your weirdest internet obsession?

Aaron Esh: Big John. Bosh.

The most embarrassing picture/screenshot on your camera roll?

Aaron Esh: My Brandy Melville shopping cart?

The most recent note on your Notes app?

Aaron Esh: A never ending to do list. 

Your weirdest comfort food?

Aaron Esh: Monster Munch crisp sandwich.

Who’s your nemesis?

Aaron Esh: My overdraft. 

What Dazed headline would you be? 

Aaron Esh: The London-based designer calibrating clothes to the contemporary.

Who would be in your nightmare blunt rotation? And your dream blunt rotation?

Aaron Esh: I literally have asthma.

Title of your biography? 

Aaron Esh: I Did a Fashion Brand and All I Got Was This Lousy Book!