Summer and UK Garage go together like yin and yang; you can’t think of one without the other. UKG is the perfect soundtrack to any scorching hot afternoon, whether you’re lounged beside a pool somewhere magical or just plonked in the back garden with a disposable BBQ. “I grew up through the peak of UK garage but I wasn’t able to get into any of the clubs because I was too young,” menswear designer Priya Ahluwalia explains. “My family listened to it a lot and I used to wish so much I could go to the clubs with them and drink a rum and coke.”
Garage ravers across the capital were known for their slicker than slick style; from Versace shirting and Moschino jeans, right down to the Patrick Cox loafers. It is this immaculate ode to dress, alongside the designer’s own Indian-Nigerian heritage, which has shaped the designer’s upcycled menswear. Using dead-stock fabrics to craft each of her designs, Ahluwalia creates stellar pieces that look to London’s past to shape its tomorrow.
The designer has been rather busy during lockdown. Aside from baking, Houseparty workout sessions and starting to read the Harry Potter saga again from the beginning, Ahluwalia was announced just two weeks ago as one of the joint eight winners of this year’s LVMH Prize, with each winner set to receive an equal sum of €40,000. “I’m really honoured to be a part of the LVMH Prize, getting to the final was really one of my wildest dreams,” she says. “I think it’s great that they have decided to split the prize during these really troubling times. I am gutted I won’t get to meet the judges but I hope our paths will cross one day in the future.”
And that’s not all. The designer has released an exclusive capsule collection with Matches Fashion. “Matches Fashion is known worldwide and was one of the first designer multi-brand stores I heard of as a child,” she explains. “I lived near their first Wimbledon store and remember staring through the windows. Matches carry so many amazing brands so it feels like I am in great company being stocked there.” Consisting of 11 separate pieces in total, the collection was inspired by the tradition of passing down clothes between family and friends. What have been some of the designer’s best and worst hand-me-downs over the years? “The best item that has been handed down to me was my mums first-ever designer bag, it’s a vintage Louis Vuitton holdall. Come to think of it, she never officially handed it down to me,” she laughs. “I really can’t think of any bad things because luckily for me my family is pretty stylish. I’ve had some great sportswear, old football tops from my cousin and beautiful shirts and jewellery from my nana.”
Cracking denim and loud, patchworked shirting made from a silk-blend brings the cooler than cool UKG flare, united with the designer’s exploration of her own duel heritage with a patchwork t-shirt dotted with family photographs. The ace sportswear hand-me-downs she once received from her cousin are re-imagined into sweatshirts and joggers morphed from mismatched reclaimed and recycled jersey. They’re as clever as they are environmentally conscious.
Summer may seem like its being pried from our hands like a 40 inch TV in a Black Friday brawl, but this collection is ideal for two-stepping around the house in. Ahluwalia has even offered three of her favourite classic UKG bangers to soundtrack your lockdown. Stick those tunes on, throw on your slice of the collection and maybe, just maybe, it’ll feel like summer.
Things we do for love – Sticky & Kele Le Roc
Has it come to this? – The Streets
Gabriel (Live Garage version) – Roy Davis Jr & Peven Everett
The Ahluwalia Matches Fashion capsule collection is available to purchase online now.
by Paul Toner