Just over two years ago, we first were introduced to a capsule collection of transformational outerwear thanks to an exhibition inside b Store. Inspired by the ever practical pac-a-mac, Berthold's debut offering was a unique assortment of outerwear that cunningly changed from a coat to a bag and back again with consummate ease. In the seasons following this memorable introduction, I've often found myself admiring his designs on the rails of my favourite London store but somehow no follow up post has ever materialised. Today, I make amends.
Founded by Raimund Berthold, this creative yet functional range of menswear is focused on style and comfort. His philosophy is simple; to design interesting, well made and inspirational clothing for everyday wear. Raimund began life in Austria before travelling to London to undertake a BA followed by an MA in Fashion at St Martins College of Art & Design. The design talent then worked under the tutelage of British greats including Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen before launching his own label. Berthold is confident, sophisticated and refined. During the hot and hectic weekend spent in the heart of Paris menswear week back in June, I longingly stroked the fourth full Berthold collection and met the man behind it all. To mark the imminent launch of his AW11 collection in b Store, we snapped up the opportunity to discuss Raimund's approach to design whilst day dreaming over the designs thanks to the Claire Harrison shot look book...
SS: What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind launching Berthold?
Raimund Berthold: I liked the idea of being free to follow my own aesthetics, creating clothes I would like to wear myself and see other people appreciating and wearing them too.
Also, having your own line opens up great possibilities to work and collaborate with amazing, creative and inspiring people. It is very helpful to be pushed and questioned by people you respect.
SS: Aside from it being your surname, what does Berthold mean to you?
Raimund Berthold: I like the fact that Berthold sounds like a brand and doesn’t make it too personal to me. That is why I haven’t used my first name. I think of Berthold as an accessible and modern label which is always about detailing and function mixed with a bit of humour.
SS: How would you describe your approach to design?
Raimund Berthold: I usually don’t like endless research material. I prefer to start with a few images or vintage garments and just design and develop from there. I find this keeps my mind free and my work less predictable.
SS: What were the first and last items you remember designing?
Raimund Berthold: I used to customize my clothes as a child. Growing up in the Austrian Alps didn’t give you a great choice of clothes but customizing certainly helped. The last item was a print for next summer. It's based on scaffolding I photographed in a church in Barcelona.
SS: What was the starting point for the AW11 collection? How did it evolve into the collection we see today?
Raimund Berthold: The starting point was an image of a space suit, which had a very chunky zip across the body. The suits proportions and straight lines are brilliant. This translated into very boxy jersey peaces, which have chunky zips either vertical, horizontal or diagonal. These zips open completely and extend the garment. The ”boxyness” inspired the silhouette of the outerwear. Especially the coats….. Simple lines, oversized and very subtle details.
SS: Throughout each piece you've experimented with shape and fabric. Could you talk us through the silhouette and your love of fabric...
Raimund Berthold: I love experimenting with volume and silhouette, but you have to get the balance right. I am very much involved in the pattern cutting process and for me this the really creative time.
The jackets and coats for this winter collection have an oversized look but don’t swamp you. The jersey peaces are also either oversized and cozy or very thin and almost “drapy”. My trousers are slim cut.
I like using cotton, because its light and versatile. I also use wool for my outerwear. I often mix them with anything synthetic, either because its gives the garment a better performance, make them more sporty or just for the fun of it.
SS: You have quietly and assuredly built up a fan base. Do you think there is a particular Berthold man? If so, do you think about them when you design each collection?
Raimund Berthold: I definitely attract the more creative type. Men that want well made comfortable clothes that sets them apart without being too obvious. Where I do have my customer in mind is when it comes to the fit. I usually ask the “b Store” boys each season which fit worked best for customers and why. I want to create clothes that are comfortable, flattering and of course, those that sell.
SS: How has your approach to or view of fashion shifted during the life of the label?
Raimund Berthold: Since starting my label I have met incredibly interesting and passionate people who just love fashion. This has made me rediscover how much fun fashion can be and how lucky I am to be a designer. My approach to fashion has definitely become more confident, especially after realising that you don’t necessarily have to compromise your designs in order to have a viable business.
SS: What excites you about the future of menswear?
Raimund Berthold: That men have become more fun to design for!
SS: Finally, what's next for Berthold?
Raimund Berthold: Lots of experimentation and extending our product range
Collection shot by Claire Harrison and modelled by Adam Maddock.