Friday, 19 March 2010

Unpicking the seams of Menswear Day... Sibling

Sibling Aw10. Social Zombie Crew. Photo by Thomas Giddings

A few weeks may have passed since Menswear Day but our collective blogging mind is still full to the rafters with thoughts on the collections we discovered on that busy, busy day. For us, nothing represents the diversity of menswear design talent in the capital more than Fashion East's Menswear Installations and the latest crop did not disappoint. One of the real highlights of the day was walking around the East Wing of Somerset House uncovering the beautiful alongside the weird and wonderful. The bold and progressive knitwear label Sibling showcased both of these virtues and more. For Aw10 Sibling take us on a creepy journey for their fourth collection. Inside Somerset House's East Wing we were led down the staircase, round the corner and through the door into Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory. The label is a collaboration between Joe Bates, Sid Bryan and Cozette McCreery and it really is all for one and one for all. The trio bring with them a strong heritage of experience with top name designers and have added a sense of humour and wit to the wonderful craft of knitwear. We've been meaning to catch up with the design trio for some time and jumped at the chance to do just that while learning more about their hammer horror laboratory. Here we talk to the them about balancing the craft of knitting with humour, here about the design dynamic of the brand, the importance of collaboration and their hopes for the future...

Pixelated Frankenstein Crew. Photo by Thomas Giddings.

SS: Between you, you have worked with (among others) Alexander McQueen, Giles Deacon, Lanvin, Jonathan Saunders and Bella Freud. What have these experiences taught you?
Sibling: Well the experiences we have had collectively have naturally all shaped the existence of Sibling. Some are good, some are bad but all are to be learnt from, the main one being: don’t be afraid to go after what you want!

SS: What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind Sibling?
Sibling: We are inspired by lots of different subjects as well as what is happening all around us which is no different to anyone else. We are really good friends so will chat about all kinds of stuff over tea and biscuits which may or may not turn into something. The driving catalyst is always to produce something that we are proud of, that makes us and hopefully others smile

Scary Fairisle V neck and tank top. Photo by Thomas Giddings.

SS: What does Sibling mean to you?
Sid: KNITTING – what I do best.
Joe: Fun
Cozette: Freedom

SS: What were the first and last items that you designed under the Sibling name?
Sibling: The very first was the Ram’s Head sweater (sweater… it’s more like a sculpture) for stylist Jane How and the last would be the Knit Monster for Collection Four. Both pieces have had more press than Jordan.

Scary Fairisle v neck tank top in black and white. Photo by Thomas Giddings.

SS: Talk us through the dynamic of the brand. How do the three of you work together?
Sibling: At the beginning of a collection Joe has ideas, Sid says no, Cozette says yes, Sid then says yes about something Cozette doesn’t like and all 3 of us then have more ideas… all of which we hate… or love. Sid then swatches and this could lead to something else, even to the dustbin… and on it goes. There are no properly defined titles for any of us: our characters are very similar in that ‘if it needs doing do it’ way.

SS: Hand craftsmanship is obviously a key facet of the brand. Everything is crafted and the pieces are ultimately a labour of love. Is this what makes knitwear so special to you?
Sibling: We are very lucky to be making a product that we enjoy and yes love. It’s nice that you pick up on that. All three of us have always been obsessed with knitwear throughout our lives. It’s funny when we are interviewed about our childhood or teenage wardrobes because 99% of the time the things we are most fond of have been knitted. That may make us sound weird!

Scary Fairisle scarf. Photo by Thomas Giddings.

SS: I love the balance you strike between the obvious humour of the pieces and the craftsmanship behind them. For your fourth collection you take us on a creepy journey to Frankenstein's laboratory and sees you unveil your Scare-Isle knits, pixellated Frankenstein crews and the motley silhouette. Does this balancing act come easy to you as a design trio?
Sibling: Sibling is all about humour in a very English way that may come across as being a bit silly at times. And we do get silly in our gang, that’s what life is all about isn’t it? We’ll leave those moody grey V-necks to others thank you very much because we are just not that good at it. We giggle way too much.

SS: You are pushing the boundaries of knitwear to create total looks, for example top-to-toe cashmere Scare-isle knit, complete with Long Johns and a knitted raffia-Mohican Balaclava, demonstrating that there is so much more to graphic knitwear than merely sweaters. You are making men's knitwear exciting. How does it feel to have given it a much needed knitted clad slap to wake it up?
Sibling: Knit Monster was great fun to make and yes it is the first time we have ever done a ‘total look’. Frankly we have been fighting against producing a knitted trouser since the start but only because they just never sat right within the previous collections. Here it seemed very very right. We’d been looking at lots of tribal images of people totally covered in paint and fully constructed jumpsuits as well as kid’s Halloween costumes and just went for it. We could have stopped at the balaclava, crew and Long Johns but decided that Knit Monster needed a Puffa. It took a life of it’s own. Total nonsense but it works, this we know because of the chaos he (yes he) has caused since. It’s lovely to have had such a reaction.

Scary Fairisle Hand Knit Jacket. Photo by Thomas Giddings.

SS: Have you got any anecdotes of making the collection that you can share?
Sibling: Oh we only share amongst ourselves! Anything interesting we can’t share, Sibling oath and all that.

SS: Were you able to see any other collections during Menswear Day? If so, who were your favourites?
Sibling: This season the menswear day we felt really came into its own. The quality and style of the collections moved away from club kids and that homemade whacky London trendyness which just makes us groan. Favourites would be Lou Dalton, Carolyn Massey, the shows at Savile Row, James Long… oh God between the 3 of us we’ll just list the entire schedule..! Honestly though it was a very strong day, one we were very happy to be part of.

Collaboration with Will Broome. Beware Hairy Hands. Photo by Thomas Giddings.

SS: As part of FashionEast/MAN exhibition you presented a short film that saw you collaborate with both This is Real Art and COY! and Spider and Flies. How important is collaboration to the label? Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Sibling: Collaboration is really important, it’s like an extension of how we 3 work anyway: bouncing ideas off one another. And it’s been really successful, the Noah Skull Breton for example sold out in a store in Japan in less than three weeks. It’s been great working with This Is Real Art as they have really upped the anti with our films. The film they produced for Collection 3 literally hit every blog going. It was like a viral PR campaign. Where next? Good question. No idea. What about Shreddies.. now there is a tie-in that would work!

SS: How do you see the brand developing over the next couple of years?
Sibling: We are relatively a new brand and still finding our feet, our plan was to take our time and to stick around. That still is our plan. Tortoise rather than the hare (Mr Hare… we like his shoes too..)

Scary Fairisle Hand Knit Jacket. Photo by Thomas Giddings.

SS: If you could go back in time and experience any moment in style or fashion movement, what would it be?
Sid: I would love to have experienced the 1920s. I have a romanticized and stereotypical vision of being permanently dressed in a dinner suit and lounging around in smoke filled wood paneled London clubs with Inspector Poirot.
Joe: I have a very rose tinted view of male homo culture between the wars. I know that the reality was hateful and dangerous but I can’t help but think of that era and picture well groomed be suited men dancing together surrounded by rouged queens.
Cozette: I would be a proper punk, well a non-political version of a proper punk. An improper one? Because of my age by the time punk hit the posh girls of Woldingham my Miss Selfridges version was rather watered down and consisted of wearing Boots Country Born hair gel and a few studded wristbands to Catherham Youth Club. If I did it now I’d want to be an expensive Givenchy or Demeulemeester one. Again the politics go out the window. I’d be the shallowest punk on the planet.

SS: Finally, would you be able to share a few address book recommendations to our readers (hairdressers, tailors, cafes…anything you like really) which we will duly add to our map?
Sid: Hervia Bazaar - 40 spring gardens, Manchester, m2 1en.
Joe: The City Cobbler, 215 city road. EC1V 1JN
Cozette: M Goldstein on Hackney Road for clothing and artifacts. Ottolenghi (Islington or Westbourne Grove) for passion fruit meringues. Solange Azagury Partridge for gothic jewels. Jeanette’s on Club Row for Richard Nicoll, James Long etc. Artworld’s Book Shop (Rivington St) and Donlon Books, Cambrige Heath Rd.

Social Zombie Scarf. Photo by Thomas Giddings.


Matthew Spade said...

i've never seen anything like it! they are just "freaking" amazing, sibling and just getting crazier by the season. my friend is hopefully interning with them soon

Jason said...

Nice interview alongside great designs. This is the first I've heard of Sibling and I now love them!

LivesLostInBlack said...

Not so sure about this collection, much preferred the last one. This just reminds me of the stuff that kids buy from H&M around Halloween.
Bit harsh but true.

Charleston said...

i love the geek chic and sci-fi vibe designs that almost blind and distort the eye. very eclectic


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