MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

January 4, 2018

UO London collections celebrate the best in British menswear with three exclusive collections designed by Liam Hodges, Bobby Abley and Christopher Shannon. We caught up with each of them at their London studios to talk creative process, street style and the evolution of menswear.

LIAM HODGES

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

What was the inspiration behind the collection?

I was working with the Urban team and we were talking about creating something for fashion week and we liked the idea of creating a fashion week survival kit. We looked at military surplus references and garments to create something that is a playful approach to getting through the slog.

What’s your favourite pieces in the collection?

Probably the patchwork military army jacket!

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

Can you talk us through your basic design process?

I guess I just try and play with stuff, and I try not to think about it too much. I play with stuff to make it quite fun and build graphic shapes with the garments and juxtapose with different fabrics.

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

Do you get inspired by street style?

I guess it’s really about what you see around you, what people are wearing. How people dress and how people put stuff together, like how they wear a pair of trousers.

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

Dead or alive, who would be your favourite muse to model in your show?

It depends with each season, really. There’s always a different person. I guess who I really like to model in my show is real people; it’s great when someone famous wears stuff, but we’re more into street casting models. A bit of reality to it is good.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given about the industry?

James Long used to say to me “it’s only clothes”.

Shop Liam Hodges X UO



BOBBY ABLEY

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

What was important to you when you began designing your collection for UO?

I’m really pleased with all of it and have favourites for different reasons. Bobbyland is a design that I’ve had for a while; it suggests equality and acceptance through the pride flag/rainbow colours and has actually been dismissed or seen as ‘too much’ for some retailers, which is offensive and just straight up bad from them! So as a gay man, I’m happy to have this design in a great store.

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

How do you translate a collection concept into signature designs?

I try not to think too much. if I thought about it too much, I’ll over think it and become a slave to my concept, rather than let it naturally develop into something I’m not even aware of. But usually, it starts from a song, something on TV, a film or something that’s happening in the news that I don’t understand and that makes me feel uncomfortable or sad – but I will never let darkness infect my work. It’s my happy place, so I will always pull from my childhood and blend that with something current.

Where do you see looks that excite you?

I love looking at people in music, what artists are wearing or their image for a new album or tour, because you have the music to listen to go with it, so you can really dive into their world with them. I really love Lil Yachty – his look, his sound, and he’s always smiling.

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

What do you think of the emergence of unisex collections?

I love this, I think it’s great to blur the lines between boy and girl / pink and blue b*****ks!

Dead or alive, who would be your ultimate muse to model in your show at Men’s Fashion Week?

Christina Aguilera.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Stay quietly confident.

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

What do you have lined up for 2018?

I have a few projects in the pipe line, nothing I can really talk about but it seems like it could be a fun year.

Shop Bobby Abley X UO



CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

Tell us about the journey of the KIDDA collection – how has this diffusion collection developed?

KIDDA was originally a jersey line I did a couple of years back. I felt like we had a following who loved the brand but found the catwalk collection quite a lot to wear, so we used our catwalk prints on jersey staple pieces and it really took off. It suddenly was stocked worldwide and had people like Rihanna and Naz wearing it. We took a break for a few seasons and now its back as a more developed range than just t shirts. I always think of KIDDA as sort of the tougher little brother of the mainline collection.

Where does your inspiration come from?

I always go back to moods and references, photographers, a lot of northern street photography I guess. I also remember the clothes the older lads had when I was a kid, the ones I was jealous of. Its designed that you can wear more than one piece but not look like you are wearing a full brand, there’s some subtlety. My prints have always been informed by market stalls mixed with the opulence of fashion brands, so it’s sort of a best of both in a really wearable form.

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

What’s your favourite piece in the collection?

I love the puffer jacket and the overheads. They are quite real then the louder print pieces add a bit of a vibe.

Talk us through your design process – once you have your basic ideas how do you develop the designs?

It’s a constant back and forth and very different from designing a catwalk collection – its freer and slightly more based in reality. I think about how the pieces work alone in the store and how they fit with what people wear. KIDDA is really about the most accessible version of what I do, it has to feel authentic but really wearable.

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

How often are you inspired by street style and where do you see looks that excite you?

I still like the edge of east London, I like wandering around the outskirts of London, the places where people aren’t so obsessed with the latest drop or trend, it’s in those areas you get a different sense of style. But style is always on the street, my eye is always drawn by the way people put looks together differently, and they are never usually people who wear ‘fashion’.

What do you think of the emergence of unisex collections and is this something you would consider?

We have always had a really big female following, on our e-commerce site the customer split is pretty much 50/50. I try not to think about it though, I don’t want to patronize those women by designing a ‘girls’ range that feels like we’ve just remade it in pink or something. I think KIDDA has always been unisex, it’s just slightly tough.

MEET THE DESIGNERS: LIAM HODGES, BOBBY ABLEY & CHRISTOPHER SHANNON

Dead or alive, who would be your ultimate muse to model in your show at Men’s Fashion Week?

I have muses but I’m not sure I’d have them in the show. I do love Jack O’Connell. I think he’s super talented, I haven’t seen him in one thing where he’s not been great.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Hmm, that advice is useless? I’m quite a fan of doing and learning.

What do you have lined up for 2018?

We start the year with the launch of our mainline collection which has taken a slightly more ‘elegant’ turn, for want of a better word, then KIDDA drops in Jan and Feb. We are working on a lot of new product categories which I find really engaging. We are also working with American brand HITEC on a slightly more conceptual, capsule footwear range which has been really refreshing to work on.

Shop KIDDA by Christopher Shannon X UO

Shop all London Collections