Emerging designer Bankole Thomas seems to have a lot to say about bespoke formal wear. First off, he seems to have his eye on global trends, integrating a menswear and womenswear collection into one major collection, mirroring international collections. He also shows a much cleaner lookbook in a formal environment, channelling the kind of environments he envisions his clothes will be worn. However, there are quite a few kinks in Bankole Thomas’s seemingly infallible armour.
We are not sure why, perhaps because there are quite a few modelling agencies with pretty much any kind of model any brand would be interested in, but the label’s decision to use four amateur models with no idea of how to sell clothes is somewhat jarring. The female models are Caucasians of undetermined nationality, and that combined with the fact they are pretty unconvincing as models gives us the impression that they were simply tokens supposed to add some level of exoticism to the clothes. If that is the idea, it doesn’t translate.
The clothes themselves are polarising. Bankole Thomas makes very good formal menswear, his notch lapel blazers are stellar and the fit of his shoulders are succinct. His shawl lapel blazers on the other hand are touch and go, either the lapels are too big and unwieldy, or they are made from fabric that give the illusion of wrinkling.
Thomas’ formal womenswear seems a continuous experiment gone wrong. He tries asymmetric blazers, lapel-less blazers, pleated skirts and inverted shawl lapels, and nothing quite works. Nothing looks good enough on the model to see it inspire enough confidence that a buyer would put money down to wear them. Like many designers who start their careers in bespoke menswear, Thomas doesn’t seem to realise that the rules for formal menswear do not necesssarily apply in formal women’s wear, and to excel in the field would require an overhaul of everything he knows about menswear.
We hope he learns from this experiment, and gives his future dabbling in women’s wear the respect and attention it deserves.