Spare us, please, another dose of Derelicte. Thankfully Christopher Shannon’s carrier bag hoods heralded something more thoughtful than that. Outside the 1 percent-inflated bubble of central London, much of the United Kingdom is having a rough time of it right now. Broke and decried by some as broken, Britain is not in the best condition. So there’s a context for a politically touched fashion statement—something not seen here often since Katharine Hamnett back in the 1980s. But where Hamnett’s sloganeering was direct, polemical, and campaigning, Shannon’s commentary is sideways, observational, and played for laughs: a portrayal reminiscent of Keith Talent in Martin Amis’ London Fields.
The blue and white stripes of a carrier bag emblazoned with “Save Me” in red lettering knitted onto a sweater echoed the “value” (aka cheapest) food range of Tesco, the U.K.’s largest supermarket chain (which is itself suffering a radical management-led downsizing). The “broke” slogan on a Coca-Cola-esque can and the “Thanks For Nothing” on the side of a generic corner-shop bag sweater decoration projected Pound Shop rage still further. Despite the slogans, however, Shannon’s chief dialect is sportswear: oversized, popped apart, cinched by odd corsetry, or applied with a slick shine and teamed with chains, gel, and a scowl. Still, a real chin-stroker could work up a hypothesis about the designer representing a faceless, prospect-starved generation cast adrift on high streets awash with shuttered businesses. Yet whether this angers Shannon or amuses him is unclear.