Whether it’s a call or response to the world around us, Edward Cuming is intent on stripping away the heaviness and formality of traditional men’s clothing to create something that feels softer, less industrial, and sees him featured in a portfolio of emerging menswear designers in
His approach is as technically driven as it is creative. Often led by the materiality of garments, he ‘recontextualises fabrics, using traditionally womenswear type fabrics to create a subtle, sensitive masculinity’. One process involves intensely washing lightweight lining until it becomes ‘really silky and dishevelled’. For the Australian designer, it became a personal challenge to use these hard-to-handle delicate fabrics. ‘They scared me a lot,’ he says; eventually, he developed a sense for knowing how different fabrics would handle after treatments. ‘You let the fabric speak to you and stop trying to make it something it doesn’t want to be. I like that process of transformation.’
New menswear: Edward Cuming A/W 2022
His desire is to create wardrobe building blocks; ‘clean, clear and edited’. A longline duster coat and sheer diaphanous vests and shorts that skim the body are not just emotive, but useful. Shirts and suits, while traditional men’s items, are rethought in deadstock viscose lining, washed so that colours bleed into each other. ‘It’s a laborious process using a humble, simple textile. Washing and hand-cutting made it into something really special.’ This intricate process is possible as the brand is still of a manageable size – his team of four works from his studio in Salamanca. ‘We can handle hand-cutting 150 shirts,’ he says.
The concept of time is of particular fascination for Cuming. Although labour intensive, his clothes feel almost ephemeral, passing wisps of moments that can’t quite be grasped. ‘The idea of decay and ageing is really what I love to see in garments,’ he says. His A/W 2022 collection was inspired by his own adolescence and the clothes of his childhood. ‘The jeans, the oversized cropped cardigan, and a woman’s duffle coat, were based on these three thrift shop pieces that I had treasured and kept since I was a kid.’ Cuming has carried the pieces around the world as he’s moved continents, from his home in Australia, to Madrid, then London to attend the MA at Central Saint Martins, and back to Madrid. ‘I really wanted to immortalise them, to elevate them into something more luxurious.’
His ethos intuitively reflects a shift towards softness and fluidity that is flourishing not just in menswear but throughout global culture. For Cuming, it’s important his clothes stay open to interpretation. ‘We found early on that a lot of women were relating to the pieces, as well as a niche group of male consumers,’ he says, noting how his silhouettes fall on the body. ‘Now there is a bigger market for people who want something a bit more sensitive.’ He’s spurred on by comments from friends in the creative sphere who tell him: ‘That’s what I’m looking for, I want something that feels softer, feels more touched and feels less industrial.’ §