If you're strolling along South Molton Street in London you might have noticed that the Browns Focus store, the "younger" sub-store of Browns boutique, has been amalgamated within the number 23 – 27 stretch of the street. Effectively you can now walk through the menswear store, through to Focus and then on to the main flagship Browns store inside, which makes a lot more sense to me than traversing between different store units on the same street. What I found most interesting on the revisit to the newly refocused Browns Focus was its drastic aesthetic change-up. Browns Focus has always had a blacked out interior but with the new store's interior concept and styling created by Studio Toogood, under the brilliant Faye Toogood, where the contrast between black and white is even more pronounced. On the ground floor, the midnight blue interior slick with black rubber and post-industrial elements, is where Ashish's sequins can shimmer and Christopher Kane's brain scan prints can glow. Then downstairs, the walls of white mesh and mix up of textures in the timber display units and Morccoan rag rugs compliment the noticeably casual shift in Browns Focus wares.
In fact, the selection of labels at Browns Focus seems to have have honed in on one particular niche that is dominating our chests at the moment. Why it's my oft–discussed friend, the subverted logo or to put it in a general aesthetic umbrella – the shouty wear-it-on-your-chest approach. Downstairs, Brian Lichtenberg's Homies/Hermes sweaters, Conflict of Interest's label wordplay, Les Plus Dores' team designer football jerseys and Filles a Papa "Tomboy" branded merch grab your eyes from every corner with their text based delights. The newest kid to this tongue n' cheek brand adulation and look-at-me sloganising is Enfants Riches D√©prim√©s, who Browns Focus have exclusively, so that you too can knowingly chuckle at yourself for wearing a sweater that pokes fun at Depressed Rich Kids.
Upstairs, Ted's Draws aka Ted Pearce who has been illustrating people that he likes and selling them as tees and prints has been given an installation where Missy, Steve Buscemi, Grace Jones Christina Ricci (as Wednesday Adams) and Snoop Dog are all hanging out in one big happy family. Ted's Draws' tees are another strand of this to-the-point, in-yer-face category of casual wear, which has become so popular, but perhaps merit more praise because they are at heart, also great caricature drawings. What is fascinating about all of this is that Browns have chosen to capitalise and focus in this genre of clothing precisely because of their sale appeal. They can't keep Kenzo Tiger sweatshirts on the rails for long enough and likewise, their selection of all the aforementioned labels taps into the current fashion zeitgeist of smirking at each other on the street in clever sweatshirts, as we collectively appreciate the wit and humour of perfunctory slogans, cheeky words and distorted branding. Who knows how long that will last but no doubt Browns Focus will perform season change-ups to reflect the inevitable changes.
Outside of word play on sweatshirt/t-shirt, other pieces which caught my eye were exclusives by Simone Rocha, whose A/W 13-4 prim n' proper grandma-inspired collection has just arrived. Yes to anything in Rocha's signature fabric for the season – spongey mesh in bubblegum pink. I also discovered Bangkok shoe brand Croon at the store with their glitter bows on sandals and brogues. I'll be learning more also about brand new London-based print designer Holly Fowler, who has created some hand-painted leather jackets exclusively for Browns Focus and thus continues Browns' longtime tradition of picking up designers from graduation and giving them a platform.