Speak of Erdem and fashion enthusiasts instantly associate it with delicate florals and romantic flounces. The London-based brand is a red carpet favourite and counts Alexa Chung, Keira Knightley and the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton as regular clients. But in the realm of menswear, Erdem is relatively unknown.
Behind the Erdem brand is Canadian-born Erdem Moralioglu, who is of Turkish-British descent. Before setting up his studio in arty Shoreditch, East London back in 2005, The Royal College of Art alum had a stint with Diane von Furstenburg and a prior internship with Vivienne Westwood.
“My training was in womenswear – that’s how it all really began. And when I start a collection, I usually start with a dress. That’s been my thinking from the beginning and as I’ve grown my brand, womenswear has remained my focus,” Moralioglu tells us.
It has now been a little over a decade since that beginning and Erdem is debuting a menswear collection in collaboration with H&M. It’s a win for both sides – H&M gets an exclusive menswear collection by a solely womenswear brand while Moralioglu gets to test out if menswear is worth venturing into.
According to Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s creative advisor, “The timing felt right for a collaboration with a British designer well known for his romantic and feminine style. At the same time, it is thrilling that people who might not know who Erdem is will become familiar with his amazing work, thanks to this collaboration.”
Compared to previous collaborations, this may well be the most mysterious. As news of ERDEM x H&M broke in July, we began theorising how the menswear collection would materialise. Would it be a gender-blurring harmony of floral prints and soft tailoring a la Alessandro Michele’s treatment at Gucci? Or would Moralioglu take us by surprise and strip back the prettiness for the conventional and commercial?
Fortunately, it’s a combination of both and as Moralioglu explains, “I very much wanted the men’s collection to be a complete world, and not just taking floral prints and applying them to menswear.” This meant having to reformulate the way he designs and creates the narrative.
“With menswear, I was thinking about what I wear. I also looked back to what I wore as a teenager as well as the pieces my father wore. It was such an interesting design process because we were making these pieces for the very first time,” Moralioglu enthuses.
The ERDEM x H&M collection is grounded by sharply tailored suiting and winter coats that are a clear nod to Moralioglu’s father but modern in proportion and cut.
“I’m so excited to see how men react to the collection around the world. It’s been such a pleasure to create it, and I’ll make a decision about whether to do further men’s collections after it has hit the stores.”
The Erdem stamp is definitely not left out and is found on the more casual pieces that include an olive-green silk pyjama suit, a Victorian-collared shirt and a graphic interpretation of Fair Isle jumpers. Together, they serve as a peek to what Erdem can offer should the brand decide to take the menswear plunge. It’s a departure from last year’s intensely colourful KENZO x H&M, but ERDEM x H&M has sufficient design quirks without leaving out the more conservative fashion adopter. The pieces are timeless and accessible – the hallmarks that have made Erdem a fan favourite.
“The narrative for the collection is very loose, which is very different from my usual collections,” Moralioglu explains. “I was thinking about a group of friends spending the weekend at a country house, and taking its wardrobe and them wearing it in their own way. It was such a fun design process, and I loved creating the collection. Once we had finished the whole collection, then we talked with Baz Luhrmann about how he would be inspired by ERDEM x H&M to create his campaign film.”
A teaser of the aforementioned Baz Luhrmann short film served as the announcement for the ERDEM x H&M collaboration back in July. The 4-minute short was released last week and created a romantic and compelling love story surrounding its young actors – Ruby Dagnall, Tom Rhys Harries and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin – set in a fictional paradise of Reddham Gardens. Like all great films by Luhrmann, the set is immaculate and stunning, and the music is just as arresting. It’s not the first time that H&M has dabbled in short films but certainly the first with such a cinematic storyline and narrative for a designer-led collaboration.
H&M has helped to plant the seeds for Erdem Moralioglu. And while he waits for the world’s reaction to his menswear debut, we echo Ann-Sofie’s sentiments that “we need more beauty in the world these days.” Go get ‘em, Erdem.
Take a look at some exclusive behind-the-scenes images of the ERDEM x H&M lookbook shot by Michal Pudelka, courtesy of H&M in the gallery above. The ERDEM x H&M collection launches 2 November at the H&M Orchard Building and ION Orchard stores as well as hm.com.