This collection explores no stories or ideals, but is a response to our acceptance into the Menswear calendar of Paris Fashion Week®. It is the result of a turbulent process; a ready-to-wear menswear collection manhandled in 30 days of uncertainty. With the FHCM(1)’s faith in our brand, our values, our vision and our future, this collection is a marker for Gravalot’s current position and a gateway in our evolution.
The Video, The Collection
The video begins with Onye Anuna, our Creative Director, walking barefoot through a nondescript vision of Africa: the lush, green vision of nature so often portrayed from a foreign, curious, if not nostalgic gaze. Drawing on lessons learned from exploring Lagos over the last few seasons, we cut to a concrete polarity that is London. Models seemingly walk out of the dark & into the light, with early garments sporting waves traced from Y?zan Mori’s exquisitely compiled Hamonsh?(2). The waves, a symbol of the turbulence of Gravalot’s post-Brexit, COVID-limiting world.
Double hand-stitched embroidered garments, printed bull denim and motifs that look as unassuming in the streets of London as they would out at sea. Our brand’s strong emphasis on maintaining the work of skilled artisans is at work, with handcrafted garments employing British heritage fabrics such as chequered green-blue herringbone wool, or our suits made from textiles sourced, dyed and treated entirely from some of the UK’s most prestigious textile factories.
A prayer interjects proceedings reminding us to place faith and care in the cultivation of our own work. Breaking back into the main presentation, a few accessories dot the collection. From pure silk bandanas printed with Gravalot logos and Y?zan Mori’s wave motifs, to exquisitely crafted Sam Browne belts enriched with metallic elements, forged in foundries from the UK’s manufacturing heartlands. Sustainability through localisation and environmentalism built right into our processes, as we have always done.
Gravalot was founded fundamentally to explore the stories of Black cultures and frame them in the contemporary light of the world. We’ve continuously explored stories, themes and imagery in a way that reinforces our belief in this vision, while attempting to balance these expressions with the capital intensive nature of the fashion industry. A balance between artistic vision against commercial realities; pricing between retail consumers and wholesale clients; balancing high craftsmanship, affordable pricing and finding profit in the crevices.
We acknowledge that for many small brands like us, following the commercial examples of much larger brands can be detrimental to the health and sustainability of our businesses: high capital expenditures, an increasingly selective consumer base, increasing costs of operations – especially for us in light of Brexit – and so forth.
So while this collection, for us, may not be as expressive as we’ve previously been, we’ve exercised pragmatism to continue building for another season or two. Working with new partners, new suppliers and newly adapted processes, this is likely to be our most commercially complete collection to date. God knows how’ve progressed this far with no formal training, financing or mentoring, but we’re here, and for now this is brand is staying afloat, just.
All images courtesy of Gravalot
Photography & Set Dressing: Onye Anuna
Models: Antoine Mapp, Bushy Broweth, David Etchie, Nile Downes & Tunde Domingo
Stylists: Lydia White & Taslima Khan
DOP: Yoel Kamara
Assistant: Sandra Ogbonna
Grading: Onye Anuna