Aaron Esh: CSM graduate creates subversive menswear

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Aaron Esh on his subversive menswear, inspired by friends

“It’s about taking something authentic, the people I know, the clothes they wear,” says Aaron Esh, the recent Central Saint Martins graduate who makes menswear inspired by his hometown, east London.

British designer Aaron Esh, a recent graduate of a masters at Central Saint Martins, grew up in east London, a place that remains ingrained in his work. Subversions of traditional menswear — like a bubble-hem miniskirt tucked into tailored pants or a leather jacket with swirling protrusions emerging from his shoulders — are inspired and made for his friends, most of whom congregate in the neighborhood East London from Dalston.

“It’s about taking something authentic, the people I know, the clothes they wear, and mixing that with the fashion credentials that I love,” Esh says of her clothing catalog. concise so far, including a final collection in six looks presented at the Central Saint Martins MA show in February 2022. Despite its brevity, it has already been acquired in full by Ssense, a major North American e-tailer.

A sense of control and sensuality defines Esh’s approach, reminiscent of two designers he cites as inspiration – Tom Ford during his tenure at Gucci in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and Helmut Lang’s collections from the same period. “It’s about reinventing that reference to this east London, Dalston boy,” says Esh. In particular, a metal buckle instead of a strap on a black asymmetrical tank top seems reminiscent of the abstract metal buckles of Ford’s seminal 1996 A/W collection for Gucci, though in Esh’s case such flourishes are informed by the designer’s fascination with sculpture and form (which he attributes to his mother, a sculptor and artist).

New Menswear: Aaron Esh A/W 2022

Jacket, £1,100, by Aaron Esh

This same fascination extends to the tedious physical construction of each garment. “They’re for people who want to feel fit, feel good,” Esh says of his clothes, which he hopes will accentuate the features of those who wear them. To achieve this, each garment can be adjusted on a model six or seven times to perfect its shape (during his mastery, Esh even used full-body scanning to further refine this process). Molded leather and twisted metal work – which he calls his “signatures” – add an underlying sense of weirdness to archetypal menswear pieces (the biker jacket, hoodie, dress shoe, the fitted blazer).

His exploration of these building blocks of menswear dates back more than half a century to the 1960s, when Esh’s paternal grandfather, a tailor, first moved to east London from Cyprus. Later, Esh’s aunt will run a clothing factory in the East End. “I’ve always been in the business of clothing and manufacturing,” says the designer, although his own connection to that heritage only became apparent when he moved from graphic design to fashion to the age of 25. “I’ve always been interested in kids on the street wearing clothes, not this amazing couture stuff, but what people wore and how they wore it. I always wanted to do a body of work, and fashion became the medium. I was good at it.’

A few hours earlier, Esh had returned from another factory in London, collecting the pieces from his graduate collection produced for sale. “It feels like a very personal experience to be like, OK, these clothes are now going to be for sale, because I never really designed them with that intention,” he says – now he’s not just Aaron Esh the creator, but Aaron Esh the label. Either way, he’s determined to do things his own way – a little under the radar, made for those in the know.

“For me, it’s about relying on my community; talk to people who are important to us. You start to realize that it’s not the clicks, or the likes, or the followers, or the celebrities or the musicians wearing it that makes something great – it’s the fashion. §

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