Edward Cuming, the Designer Creating Sensitive, Atypical Menswear

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Edward Cuming fashion Jorge Perez Ortiz Patricia Villirillo
Photography by Jorge Perez Ortiz, Styling by Patricia Villirillo

“I often like to look at human behaviour and how that can be interpreted in clothing, feeling, texture of something,” explains the Australia-born Madrid-based designer

  1. Who is it? Edward Cuming is a menswear designer, Australia-born and now based in Madrid
  2. Why do I want it? Sensitive menswear that challenges the typical everyday male wardrobe with its loose tailoring and exaggerated proportions
  3. Where can I find it? Edward Cuming is available at Matches Fashion; his most recent collection will be stocked at Comme des Garçon’s Trading Museum in Paris from end of August

Who is it? A graduate of the Central Saint Martin’s MA in Fashion (Menswear), Edward Cuming never intended to start his namesake label straight after school. But his graduate collection, which was selected for a showcase by the British Fashion Council, caught the eye of a buyer from Opening Ceremony and, before he knew it, he was on a train to Paris. “I took the collection to Paris in a plastic bag and brought it to show at one of the buyer’s hotel rooms at 10.30pm at night,” laughs Cuming. An order was placed, a leap of faith was taken, and Edward Cuming was launched. 

The graduate collection in question, Wash, Rinse, Repeat, showcases Cuming’s knack for elaborating tenderness and sensuality from even the most banal moments of the human experience. Specifically, these designs are “about people who take these repetitive holidays to all-inclusive resorts” – the anticipated comfort, the laziness of repetition, the familiarity of memory that are associated with such vacations. This sort of relaxing monotony is literally interpreted through Cuming’s signature process of washing and layering fabrics like cotton muslin until they embody the feel of one’s most cherished holiday outfit, the threads thick with the memories of summers passed.

Edward Cuming remains a one-man team but for his first collection since graduating, which was picked up as an exclusive by Matches Fashion, the designer took on the challenge of incorporating outsiders’ perspectives to further his own observations. To start with, Cuming shares his studio space in Madrid with a traditional bridal label from Seville, spending his days “completely surrounded by wedding dresses and angry brides, stressed mums and aunties”. Yet from the head of the atelier, Cuming has mined a wealth of knowledge in terms of construction and technique. There is a confidence in the loose suiting and elaborate fabrics that comprise this current collection, evidence of the designer’s thirst to learn from those around him – even when it couldn’t be more different from what he is doing. “I prefer it because it’s an immediate contrast,” he muses. “You have my array of samples and then behind it is just this epic wall of wedding dresses.”

For this second collection, Cuming also collaborated with the Spanish artistic collective Pattern Chineso “to see what would happen if I brought in another world and tried to meld it with mine”. Drawing upon Pattern Chineso’s performative style, together they developed a process that was essentially left up to chance: after crumpling, washing and layering fabrics like Cupro, the artists would aerograph blindfolded their signature polka dot, striped and flower motifs onto the garments. “We took away the toile away in the trial and thought ‘that’s it, we shouldn’t force it any more’,” explains Cuming.

Why do I want it? From the exaggerated proportions of his garments that defy the conventions of traditional men’s tailoring to the languid fabrics used, Cuming’s designs feel like a challenge to the stereotypical male wardrobe. Cuming agrees: “I think I like trying to create a sensitive wardrobe for men. I am looking a lot at masculinity – I think everyone is. But ever since starting the brand, I’m really trying to push a very soft aesthetic for men. Clothing that feels comfortable but challenges the stereotype of what men buy all the time.” That being said, one only has to look at his latest collection, which was bought by Comme des Garçons Trading Museum, to see how the freedom of his silhouettes and diversity of patterns emancipates his clothes from any limiting gender constructions.

It is this narrative of openness that is continued through Cuming’s latest photoshoot. With Covid-19 derailing the original plans, the designer, working alongside Patricia Villirillo and casting director Lisa Dymph Megens, chose to embrace the virtual interconnectivity fostered by the pandemic-popular video platform Zoom. Cuming’s designs, selected from all three of his first collections, were woven into the lives of nine models encouraged to style the pieces with their personal clothes but in the limits of their confinement settings. Photographer Jorge Perez Ortiz captured the pieces’ newfound realities through the computer screen before printing them on paper, a nod to Cuming’s original modus operandi of linking infinite human experiences through the tactility of his clothes. “At the end of the day, it’s about whoever connects,” reminds Cuming, softly.

Where can I find it? Edward Cuming is currently available on MATCHESFASHION and will be stocked at Comme des Garçons Trading Museum Paris from end of August.

All clothing by Edward Cuming and models’ own.

Art direction: Edward Cuming. Casting: Lisa Dymph Megens. Models: Alexander Carey-Morgan at Tomorrow Is Another Day, Ferdinand Wachsberger and Najib Abdi at The Claw Models, Peter Dupont and Ruben Pol at IMG, Sami Younis at Wilhelmina, Sekhou Drame and Ulysse Lozano at Rock Men, Truls Carlberg at Helin Honung. Art assistant: Juanma Costa.