Braille burst on to the scene at Vauxhall Fashion Scout back in February of last year and they've since gone from strength to strength. London based design duo, Benjamin Vorono and Samuel Kientsch, are able to design garments that can effortlessly slide in to any man's wardrobe. The accomplished debut, A Gentle Wake, was a concise exploration of menswear garments composed of Yorkshire tweeds and Scottish waxed cottons. A wonderfully tactile and functional collection that caught the eye of press and buyers alike. Over the last few seasons, the talented pair have carved their own niche on the London and internal scene, offering collections showcasing the best of British fabrics and manufacturing in cuts that suit the modern gentleman. Ever since the label first came to our attention, we've kept a keen eye on its continued rise and we couldn't resist catching up with the pair to talk through their SS12 collection, Current Affairs.
Where previous collections have seen the pair research design movements, artists or natural phenomenon, SS12 sees an exploration of the social world around them. "This collection was our most socially influenced to date, specifically a general feeling of disillusionment. The unrest that began to bubble up in certain areas and continues to spread throughout the globe was the main focus," explains Vorono. In a year which has seen so much social unrest play out on the news it should come as little surprise that they were drawn to a feeling of growing disillusionment.
Despite the change in mood, this collection, like the ones before it, showcases a wonderful sense of texture. Once again, pieces reveal a heady cocktail of hard and delicately luxurious fabrics. In all of their garments, Vorono and Kientsch tread an intriguing balance beam between the strong and the delicate. From waxed cotton silk shirts, oxidised print tailoring to corded rain coats and suede shorts, this collection leaves me longing to touch it. Garments are crafted in such a way that they are both inherently 'masculine' yet genteel in the same moment. For SS12, the duo introduce subtle military elements to their expanding sartorial arsenal. "There is a definite militaristic element to the collection but not in the traditional sense, obviously no epaulets or military style buttons were used but it is a tougher direction for us, which we are really happy about" Kientsch excitedly explains before adding "as with all of our collections the main focus is on wearability and transition. Hopefully regardless of season or event you can get away with wearing them whenever and however you choose."
Now, I could wax lyrical about the collection but I think Current Affair's stunning lookbook translates the beauty of the collection far better than my words. So I'll pass you over to Darren Karl Smith's imagery...
Photography by Darren Karl-Smith and assisted by Yi Chen. Modelled by Tristan Pigott. Grooming by Hiroshi Matsushita. Production by Lulu Presents.
Given that it has been almost ten months since we last spoke with Braille, so I asked the pair how 2011 has treated them. "We’re still feeling really fresh and young as a brand. Evolution is at the core of the label. As we gain a greater awareness of what our customers are actually looking for it allows us to run a tighter ship focusing on offering products that actually have a place in the market but also longevity and usefulness." At the end of the last post, I hinted that it would prove a big year and there can be little doubt that they've taken many steps forward but the menswear market, despite growing a tremendous amount, is still a tough one for an emerging label. A point that Kientsch concedes, "we still feel like the market is very hesitant to take on new designers, which is really a shame because there are plenty of more exciting menswear ideas floating around than are actually offered in the shops." However, rather than become disillusioned with the general nervousness that many buyers are unfortunately afflicted with, Braille are keen to continue carving out their niche. "There is opportunity to push a more refined look without taking the comfort that men really desire in clothing and we hope to be a part of this movement" Vorono adds with an air of defiance. I have every confidence that the pair will succeed.
Having set an impressive design marker over the last few seasons 2012 is an important year for Braille. "We really want to reach a more global audience from a retail perspective and feel we’re at the stage to be taken on by larger retailers." Once pressed on the design developments Kientsch revealed that the pair "we’re really pleased that our waxed cotton supplier has sponsored a portion of the Autumn/Winter 2012 collection so you can expect to see even more weatherproof outerwear" and hinted that collage, which they have started to experiment with previously, will become a more integral component of collections in the future. I, for one, am looking forward to watching this label continue grow.