Saul Nash – Clothes with Purpose, Not for a Purpose

by Owain Johnson

If we all think of activewear, typically what springs to mind is: tight, figure-hugging garms – yoga pants and crop tops; or the opposite, loose, baggy trackies and your dad’s oversized hoodie he doesn’t know you’re borrowing. Either choice offers the wearer varying levels of comfort and movement. These fits are designed to allow the user to go about their chosen physical activities (or lounging on the sofa, I’m not judging don’t worry). However, that’s it.

These garms are designed to assist the user but fall short in doing anything more. This is where Saul Nash’s designs come into their own. Nash has created his own signature activewear that allows movement and function but that continues further than that. His works gift movement to the wearer and movement to the garment itself. Lightweight materials combine with clever design details, such as: zips on the leg of a trouser that once opened allow air to flow inside – opening up the garment and creating a separate fluidity of the clothing in addition to the person’s own motion. Similarly, his recent collection FLIPSIDE SS21 showcases oversized jackets that have the wearer’s motion in mind. Each jacket comes with adjustable toggles and zips again that work with the wearer – allowing them to have free movement, whilst complimenting their actions. For example, Nash’s cape-like breathable coats have tails that hang down onto the leg. The wearer can tighten the coat to the body or keep the whole garment loose, yet the tails will still be free to move. Whichever way the wearer wants to don their coat, there will always be movement from the clothing that follows how they move as well.

Yeah but, who is this bloke and why is this supposedly so revolutionary? That’s a great question and that’s why I’ve framed you, the imaginary audience, saying it. Saul Nash is a designer and dancer based in London. He established his brand in 2018 and has been making waves ever since, culminating in his most recent London Fashion Week show that received high praise from critics and Instagram alike. His whole aesthetic is movement. Coming at fashion design from a dancer’s perspective, he has brought a new angle to what activewear should accomplish – to enhance the wearer theatrically not just stop at housing a body. Hence his most recent show mirrored this. He cast dancers as models who interacted with each other onstage. A group of stagehands would manipulate the models’ outfits as they strutted down the catwalk, highlighting the movement of each garment with movement itself – not just unzipping a trouser leg before the model walks to suggest the garment has motion.

By now you are probably really bored of hearing (reading?) the word ‘movement’, but that is what his pieces are all about: allowing movement of the wearer, of the garment and marrying the two to create something bigger than both components. Pretentious maybe, but come on, it’s high fashion you’ve got to have some fun with it. Not everything has to be sleek, fitted techwear to make the hypebeasts reblog. Personally, I think it’s really interesting and Saul Nash is still up-and-coming so I’m thoroughly excited to see where he goes next with his unique style.

This is fashion with purpose, not for a purpose. Clothing that adds something artistically and theatrically, and I think there is definitely an element of beauty to a garment that matches the performance of its wearer.