Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Inspired... William Richard Green SS13

Over the course of this series I've been fortunate enough to encounter all manner of studio and approach to designing a collection. Of course there are some similarities but I've been amazed by the differences. Throughout my visit to William Richard Green's studio in Whitechapel, the design talent apologised for the lack of visual inspiration multiple times but I didn't care a jot because the space is a treasure trove of true symbols of the labels. What it might lacks in wall adornment, it more than makes up with artifacts of experimentation, polka dot fabrics, military paraphernalia and a hectic desktop. From initial rough sketches to plaster cast body parts, fabric samples to market buys, the studio is littered with an inventory that is entirely personal to the label. 

As one of the designers headlining a new era in British menswear, William Richard Green continues to fuse his British influences with a willingness to celebrate the diversity amongst the well sourced manufacturers and suppliers of these isles. Over the last few seasons, each collection has showcased the craftsmanship of home grown British manufacturing whilst feeling anything but heritage. As so many have talked up the British-ness of their products, the label has quietly and assuredly gone about its business of crafting pieces that are decidedly British, both inside and out. "One of my points is that the collections are British made and predominantly use British fabric. It has been a case of building relationships over time and the quality improves," confirms the designer whilst sipping a well deserved beer at the end of a long day spent at the studio. With several factories manufacturing the collections, Green works with specialist producers for each garment and product type, to guarantee the best techniques and machinery are used for the job. For SS13, the design talent has grasped the opportunity of London Collections: Men to celebrate the places that combine to make his label great as forgotten provincial towns scattered throughout the country are immortalised in garments. Here the designer talks us through his approach and introduces the collection far better than I can...

"Now that everyone now knows about my use of British manufacture and production, I started looking at the different areas of where everything is made or in the case of the studio, where everything is designed, and tried to draw things that either I felt were uniquely British or were an interesting point of place reference. Ultimately I wanted to continue along with aesthetic of previous seasons because I think that is how menswear works but I wanted to make it more personal and even more focused. I was looking at Whitechapel where the studio is based and one of the things that I feel is unique about the place is the mix of religious communities, some of which have a particular way of dressing but because this country is so f'ing cold, they wear it teamed with a bomber jacket or large overcoat - that feels inherently British to me. Also, I was looking at Yorkshire and just the other day there was this film about the six soldiers who went out to Afghanistan and died practically straight away, so I started referencing a lot of military details. I didn't want to make too much of a thing about it because ultimately fashion is something people enjoy and it's a sensitive subject with a serious story but I felt it had to be referenced in some way.  Ultimately, the theme of the collection is celebrating the different areas and this idea of 'home is where the heart is' and what it is that makes home important, the family and everything around it. I was drawn to the Shane Meadows film Dead Man's Shoes, I liked its setting which is an amazing rural landscape, its attitude and how the idea of going home and getting revenge was so important to the central character. It celebrates the best and worst aspects of Britain. Similarly, I'm trying to offer something that is British but not in the same way of Paul Smith, the Jubilee or Foot Guards. I didn't want to go down the chav route again this season because it is trending a fair bit. I'm happy that I explored football hooliganism last season as opposed to this given the Panorama show I watched last week.

I don't work with a strict mood board, I probably should do but my desktop ends up always being covered in icons, saved images and screen grabs take the i-mac over instead of the walls. We're just a little tight for space in this current studio and given its classroom feel, I feel a little uncreative but I'm looking at a couple of new studios at the moment and if we move, I'll start doing a full mood board because I would like to. This season I've been drawn to military details and polka dots as always. I looked at an archive of army jackets for details. Also, I went on a trip to Sri Lanka and saw the traffic police wearing these amazing olive uniforms which had a button on white sleeve that are used to help signal and that's a reference for this collection. Every season I go back to this amazing book of photographs of the people who built the Channel Tunnel and the utilitarian nature of the uniforms..."  

This season the desktop is an organised chaos of technical drawings and beautiful landscapes which are broken up with road signs whilst the studio is littered with items at varying degrees of experimentation. It is the combination of man made and nature that really interests the designer...


"We've given more thought to the presentation this season. We're building an installation with Veriform and inspired by the artist Mathilde Roussel, we're making mannequins with a rural feeling to them. We initially tried using plaster for the mannequins which is why there's my hand randomly in the studio but the Veriform is better, not sure what I'll do with the hand now…I'll give it to my Gran maybe...

I'm excited to share my collaboration with Walsh, a running shoe label that are based in Bolton. I used to wear them as a kid when I ran around the Peak District which links back to the idea behind the collection. The fact that I used to have them really ties in with the collection. I've been spending a bit of time in the Midlands because of Walsh, Brady Bags and Acorn buttons and there are so many interesting ties, for example my Granddad who was a lawyer up there and worked with a few of them,. There are so many stories like that."

There's a definite sense that this season is both a sartorial continuation of previous William Richard Green collections and an introduction of even more personality. It is my kind of flag waving. The design talent has revelled in researching the label's unique map and I cannot wait to see the fruits at his presentation later this month. 

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