Christopher Kane – one of the brightest names to have emerged from London over the past 15 years – announced that he would be closing his much-loved brand this afternoon, with the official board hiring administrators to wind down operations. “This difficult decision has been reached to give the company sufficient time to implement a rescue plan,” the brand said. “Key stakeholders have been notified. A period of accelerated marketing activity will now follow, with a view to locating potential interested parties to either refinance the company’s existing debt or alternatively locate a purchaser for the business and assets.” That means Christopher Kane – both the label and the name – is up for sale.
Despite its vibration-raising AW23 showcase, the brand has fallen out of the fashion conversation over recent years, paring back the number of annual collections it produces and shuttering its Mount Street flagship. Since his debut in 2006, Kane became shorthand for an assertive and strange sense of womanhood, known as the “Willy Wonka” of the fashion industry for his madcap experiments with leather, plastic, and kitsch prints. Donatella Versace even hired him as the creative director of Versace’s alt-kid diffusion line Versus in 2009. In recent times, the designer leaned further on his own line of More Joy merch, which saw East London aesthetes emblazoned with mantras like “More Sex” and “Special”, as he rekindled his own passion for abstract painting over the pandemic.
That the demands of the fashion industry can snuffle out even its most imaginative designers is a timeworn tale, and Kane is the latest in a long line of casualties. The Brits are renowned for beaming emergent graduates into the spotlight but they often fall short on long-term support strategies, which would see homegrown talent become household names. While the news may not come as a complete shock – there had been rumours of precarity since Keringsold its 51 per cent stake in the label back to the designer in 2018 – it’s a sad day for UK fashion. The fact that Christopher Kane is hosting a summer-long installation in Covent Garden in celebration of Pride makes the news all the more sombre. Here’s hoping a wealthy benefactor breathes new life into a label too beloved to fall out of consciousness.