The designers look to the informal aesthetic of NYU students for their Spring 2020 show at London Men's fashion week.

Stefan Cooke and his partner Jake Burt feel like they’ve spent the last 15 months acting. After the designers’ Spring 2020 show at London Men’s Fashion Week, the pair confessed that they’ve sometimes walked the line between imposter syndrome and straight-up imposter. “You have to fill so many roles,” the designers agreed backstage. “You train in one [area] and then you suddenly have to do all of them.”

Having to talk the talk before you’re confident you can walk the walk is a situation Cooke and Burt put front and centre of their latest collection. Scouring costume archives for inspiration, the duo created preppy headbands, loose-knit argyle sweater vests, and intricate—at times painstaking—laced up details from calico. They described the process as “trying to replicate something from the 1500s but only having 20p to do it.”

Inspired by trompe l’oeil, they’ve injected costume into the every day by incorporating sweat pants with a regal aesthetic. Inspired by the informality of college students they saw on the streets of New York, the duo sought to celebrate the orchestrated style sometimes seen in the most mundane of settings: “We were both in New York, having a really good time, and we came across some theatre or NYU students, and there was something about their casualness—[it was] also ornate. They had really meticulously thought about everything they were wearing. Even though it was sweat pants and a university top.”

The pair offset their technical competence—using hand-tied net and rotary cutting—with their vision for a democratized aesthetic: “You look at it and think it’s a corset for the 15th century but it’s calico patched together.”

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