Originally published online by F Word Magazine.

Every season, designers Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collin aim to reflect certain remote moments from the past, those vibrant counter-cultural elements that have influenced British history and each collection Moss and Collin have created together under the British label YMC (an abbreviation for “You Must Create”), resulting in a decidedly personal and reflective portfolio of designs that after 20 years in the industry continues to intrigue and inspire — and that’s certainly worth a fair share of fanfare on its own.

For their Spring/Summer 2017 collection entitled “Okoro,” the quintessentially British brand celebrated the influx of African art that permeated mainstream culture in the late 60s through to the early 80s, with inspirations ranging from the work of Malick Sidibé, a photographer who documented how Western fashions influenced African teenagers, to the Ethiopian Funk 45s and Cameroonian synth tracks that made an permanent impact on British music.

Okoro takes strides with the cross-pollination of cultural artifacts between Britain and Africa, building a collection of garments for modern menswear and excelling with this season’s key outerwear offerings, including raw edged suede jackets, reversible collarless MA1 bombers and luxe fishtail parkas, while abstract prints and hand-stitched embroideries flourished with smart subtlety along a range of silk and jacquard fabrics.

The classic YMC silhouettes returning this season are undeniably wearable and cool yet distinctly present with the transformative influences from African culture — cropped wide leg chinos, flared jeans and silk boiler suits offer a perfect past-meets-the-present moment.

Altogether, the colours of this collection created a complex and sophisticated mood, contrasting muted tones of burnt red and royal blue with bright hues of lemon, vibrant orange and a dirty pink that looked quite luxe as a shirt and trouser combo. And then there were the graphic t-shirts featuring the “Mother Tongue” by Botswanian artist Ann Gollifer and the result of a collaboration between Moss and Collin, the British Museum and the artist.

And for a final bit of commentary, I must add how this is already one of my more favourite collections this season so far. Until seeing the presentation on Day Two of London Collections: Men, I had only been vaguely aware of YMC (as an American journalist based in Paris I must admit to not knowing every designer there is out there), but they have certainly left an impression.

I’ve always believed the designer’s role to have a greater purpose in this industry, enlightening today’s shoppers with cultural references while offering them something modern and easy to wear; and not only are YMC’s garments culturally inspired, but I could easily pick them out from a lineup. Their remarkable eye for continuity has paid off with a Spring/Summer 2017 collection that is sophisticated, subtly complex with cultural references and undeniably YMC.

Photos: Courtesy of YMC

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