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Thursday, October 28, 2021

A British menswear designer with Jamaican roots

Her namesake label has earned acclaim for its billowy shirting and ruched suiting pants inspired by her Jamaican heritage

By: New York Times |
Updated: September 28, 2021 11:33:12 am
Bianca SaundersBianca Saunders, a rising men's wear designer, outside her studio in East London, Aug. 23, 2021. (Adama Jalloh/The New York Times)

Written by Alex Hawgood

(Up Next)

Name: Bianca Saunders

Age: 28

Hometown: London

Currently Lives: In her family’s house in South London, with her parents and four of her six siblings.

Claim to Fame: Saunders is a rising British menswear designer who collaborated with Gucci on a short film and won this year’s French Andam fashion prize. Her namesake label has earned acclaim for its billowy shirting and ruched suiting pants inspired by her Jamaican heritage. Her clothing has a “borderline effeminate feel,” Saunders said, which she hopes makes “men feel sexy because I feel like that is kind of missing from fashion nowadays.”

Bianca Saunders Saunders started her namesake fashion label when she was 24. (Adama Jalloh/The New York Times)

Big Break: Her fascination with fashion began at a young age. At 8, she held sleepovers where she and her friends made purses out of pillowcases. As an 18-year-old student at Kingston University London, she bought a ticket for the British Fashion Awards and made her own catwalk-ready dress for the event. At 24, a few months after graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2017, she started the Bianca Saunders label.

Why menswear? “When it comes to womenswear, I’ve always felt so overly consumed with beautiful images that I wished I had designed,” she said. Menswear, on the other hand, “felt easier for me to find my own aesthetic and expand it beyond just work wear tailoring.”

Latest Project: In July, Saunders won the Andam Grand Prixe; past recipients have included Martin Margiela and Christophe Lemaire. Although the prize includes a grant of 300,0000 euros (roughly $352,000), she called the mentorship of Cédric Charbit, the chief executive of Balenciaga, “literally priceless.”

Next Thing: A capsule collection with Farah, the British heritage brand, was announced this month. “It’s all about the quality and creating a feeling that will make a younger man feel mature and an older man look younger, but appropriate,” she said.

Gender Lines: Although her brand is technically for men, Saunders wants consumers to view her collections as unisex. In fact, Saunders moonlights as her label’s fit model on occasion. “I’m quite tall and my arms are quite long,” she said. “So I try on jackets and sometimes trousers because I have to know how someone will feel in it.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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