Everything You Need To Know About Standing Ground, the British Brand Making Time-Traveling Garments


Ireland’s standing stones, or dolmens, are the oldest remaining neolithic monuments in the country. For Michael Stewart, the designer behind London-based label Standing Ground, they are portals through time: stoic witnesses to the eons. He recalls taking frequent trips to visit them as a child, enchanted by the centuries-old mysticism buried deep within. “Ireland is a superstitious country, which is a good thing, because the dolmens have been preserved and protected over time,” he muses. “They’re feared in a way, so people don’t dare touch them.”

It’s no secret that Stewart’s spiritual connection to these megalithic tombs informs his brand’s name and modus operandi. Speaking from his new studio at the Sarabande Foundation in East London, he explains that the dolmens possess a transcendent quality, which he projects onto his own statuesque garments: deceptively simple creations that borrow from the futurism of sci-fi and fantasy classics such as Lord of the Rings to imagine evening wear, custom garments, and body ornaments that feel rooted in neither past, present, nor future.

After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2017, Stewart established Standing Ground in 2022, before attracting the attention of Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East incubator program, and making his London Fashion Week debut as part of the Spring/Summer 2023 shows.

Remaining loyal to his source material of neolithic artifacts and figures—images of a dolmen and a Saint Brigid’s cross adorn his spare studio walls—he doesn’t have a mood board or sketches, and freely admits to having done no new research since his master’s degree. Instead, Stewart takes an intuitive, and manual, approach to draping, sculpting, and craft, developing his own lines and patterns by hand to produce alien silhouettes that flow from and protect the body like topographic armor.


Stewart is currently working on his third collection for Spring/Summer 2024, which expands on the dialogue between distant pasts and otherworldly futures. “It’s different to what I would’ve presented last February, which was very beautiful, but not as menacing,” he confesses. “I wanted to take some time to figure out what I was doing, and not pigeonhole myself.”

This collection dials back the clock to pre-human times, focusing on primordial, skeletal, and fossilized forms to create uncanny garments that explore the relationship between objects and their surrounding environment. Imagining a world where ancient objects grow and shapeshift across each collection, the designs suggest a speculative place where humankind and nature are mirrors for each other—or, as Stewart puts it: “seeing the body as a landscape and the landscape as a body.”

Makeup by Machiko Yano
Hair by Moe Mukai
Casting by AAMØ Casting
Model is Nyaueth Riam
Fashion Assistance by Florence Thompson
Makeup Assistance by Krishna Branch-Mackowiak