Q&A... Christopher Raeburn
New to 18montrose, we asked Christoper Raeburn about AW17 and beyond.
In the AW17 collection, there’s a cut & sew sweatshirt set. What do you think about fashion brands offering more streetwear-oriented pieces?
It’s interesting to see how camouflage has evolved over the years, and what began as necessity for both man and machine has developed far beyond its origins. Camouflage today has become an omnipresent urban language, covering a plethora of man-made objects with great effect. This ever-changing flow of vibrantly impactful prints is what I think drives designers and creatives alike to experiment.
Each season, you produce a mascot accompanying the collection. For AW17, it is the chameleon (which can be found in our Kings Cross store). Can you tell us more about these mascots, and what the chameleon means?
The animal mascots have grown to be an integral part of what we do. Each season we introduce a new animal in line with the theme of the collection. They’re a way to create something playful using off-cuts from the REMADE Studio and we gift an animal toy to each stockiest every season as way of thanks for our ongoing collaboration.
We also recently introduced a series of monthly off-cut animal workshops where attendees are invited to make their own animal choosing their own fabric combinations and working alongside myself and the team to create something completely unique. Our July workshop will focus on the shark for Shark Awareness Day.
The chameleon was introduced for AW17. The collection entitled ‘CUT N’ SHUT’ plays with deception in a playful and innovative experiment of deconstruction and reconstruction. Naturally, the chameleon felt like a perfect fit!
What’s your favourite piece from the AW17 collection?
Tough question! The REMADE utility field jacket is pretty special and has been cut n’ shut using bomb disposal utility garments.
Can you tell us more about the inspirations behind your SS18 collection?
The collection takes inspiration from a book which I read as a child called The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz; a young Polish officer who escaped from a Siberian Gulag camp and began a 4000-mile journey south on foot, through the heat of the Gobi Desert to the rocky extremes of the Himalayas. The collection therefore brings both menswear and womenswear together to evoke the spirit of adventure and reflect on a myriad of weather conditions, notably desert wind and sun.
You’re a London designer showing in London. How do you think the city’s fashion scene has grown? Especially for young designers, creatives, and kids interested in fashion in general?
Despite challenging times, there’s no other place like London when it comes to creativity and it’s been really interesting to witness the talent that’s come out of the emerging London fashion scene over the past 5 years. The REMADE Studio is a great opportunity for us to engage with the local community and inspire people to get creative. I hope our initiatives can inspire young designers to consider their approach to their own creative practices.
You’re really passionate about the environment and your brand really reflects that. When buying clothes, how important do you think sustainability should be?
We simply cannot continue to consume the way we do. I think as a designer you have an obligation to consider what you are doing and why; ultimately, we want to make strong, sustainable choices that provide our customers with a completely unique and desirable product.
There’s a lot of transparency in fashion nowadays. Thanks to the internet, people quickly find out about unethical practices and seem to be caring a lot more about where their clothes are coming from. Young people are also caring about fashion a lot more. Do you think that young people will start caring about sustainability in their clothes? How can designers make them care?
It’s very much about transparency as you say. Our younger audience on social media seem to enjoy learning about our approach to design and the considered choices we make along the way. Again, the REMADE studio is a great platform for us to open the doors of our atelier, archive, showroom and offices. Ultimately so much of the conversation still comes back to the product itself; is it desirable? Is it well-made? Can the customer understand the value to price ratio? If you’ve got those things right and the item is also underpinned with considered design choices then I’d like to think it can help to educate and inspire without preaching.
What other London designers are you paying attention to?
I think Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall* has a refreshing approach to design and his SS18 collection looks great. I also think Kiko Kostadinov is one to watch, and I look forward to seeing more of his own label and his growing collaboration with Mackintosh.
Since the beginning, you’ve created ‘Remade’ garments. Do you think that in the future, more and more brands will start to upcycle?
I’m hopeful that some designers are beginning to reconsider the way they do things. Using a considered design approach can really help develop a designer’s creative and innovative side through the sourcing of sustainable materials to working with responsible manufacturing partners. It’s a very rewarding approach.
The sustainability side of the brand has grown to become an integral part of what we do through our REMADE philosophy and the 3 R’s (Remade, Reduced, Recycled). It is part of the brand DNA. I’m however quite open to the fact that building a sustainable brand was a happy accident and not my prime intention initially; I was fascinated by functional fabrics and I found it amazing that I was able to purchase such incredible quality original items that were so steeped in authenticity – the fun part was taking the original items (parachutes, blankets, you name it!) and making them into something new and desirable…
Do you think people are just using sustainability as a marketing tool? Do you see a problem in that?
Sustainability has a very broad meaning and, whilst I wouldn’t say companies are using the area as a marketing too,l I’d urge people to do their research; ultimately, if the product or process isn’t right, then it’s good to ask more questions…
What do you think is the next step for sustainable fashion?
The rise of sustainable fashion is positive and it’s great to see so many bigger brands re-considering their approach, but the truth is that much of the global fashion industry is still environmentally damaging. Thankfully there are brilliant initiatives out there that we work with such as Fashion Revolution who want to raise awareness and call for greater transparency in the industry.
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