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Bringing Sexy Back

Jordan McDowell finds out exactly what menswear designer James Hillman is up to

Written by . Published on September 12th 2011.

Bringing Sexy Back

JAMES Hillman is a name you may soon get sick of hearing. A boy that started out in fashion at just fifteen years of age, whilst interning for Ted Baker, has now grown into a man of his own brand.

Of his time at Ted Baker he says, “nice experience, I learnt a hell of a lot”, but then goes on to admit that “there’s an amazing canteen which is dead cheap”, signalling that the lessons learnt encompassed much more than just hems and stitching. Skip forward a few years and Hillman learns a different lesson, “to have a clear idea of what is your inspiration and being able to translate that into clothing”, as he graduates from the prestigious Central Saint Martins in 2009. After a short stint as a Designer at Aamaya by Priyanka, James was successful in catching the attention of Fashion Mode, bringing us swiftly up to today.

When questioned about the resulting aesthetic, James doesn’t shy away, “sexy is definitely what I wanted”. Us too James, us too.


Fashion Mode are a body, headed by Andrea Abraham, that fund and nurture young British design talent. Fashion Mode has offered Hillman the opportunity of a lifetime: to be the lead designer of his own label, James Hillman. His time at Fashion Mode has seen two seasons on schedule at London Fashion Week as part of the Vauxhall Fashion Scout offer. Last season Hillman’s Autumn/Winter ’11 collection was inspired by crude oil and the global dependency on fossil fuel. “I like to research things that interest me”, James explains, “my inspiration came from the distillation process of the crude oil, the tiers, the oil really inspired me”. The result was a sleek and sexy men’s range that expressed shape and power in the male form. The shade was noir, the effect was smoking. Not afraid to verge on the androgynous, Hillman’s range trumped shoulder pads and wet-look shirts. When questioned about the resulting aesthetic, James doesn’t shy away, “sexy is definitely what I wanted”. Us too James, us too.

However, after citing “cigarettes and coffee” as his general inspiration from day-to-day, anticipation for what lies ahead for Spring/Summer ’12 boggles the mind. Giving nothing away about his upcoming collection, Hillman says that his catwalk on Saturday 17th September will see a change that stays true to his design ethos. The upcoming show will be Hillman’s third, but even after plenty of practice the young designer still gets the jitters, “I just get stressed out! Months of sleepless nights for ten minutes on a catwalk! I must be crazy.”

Envisioning his label alongside the likes of Dries Van Noten and Kris Van Assche means that there may be many more sleepless nights ahead for young James Hillman as he makes his mark on an intrigued fashion industry.

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AnonymousSeptember 13th 2011.

Very much looking forward to seeing Hillman's SS12 on Saturday!

AnonymousSeptember 13th 2011.

Me too — if nothing else than just for the models. ;)

Jordan McDowellSeptember 24th 2011.

Loved his SS12 shirts, and the models... well, a highlight for LFW!

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