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Been Trill Goes From the Mall to Savile Row for Harvey Nichols

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To access The Vaults, an event space in the shadow of the London Eye, you must pass through an alley where graffiti artists are plotting their latest chefs d’oeuvre, seemingly indifferent to the cluster of Mercedes livery cards. It’s the type of venue that evokes the legendary shows of Alexander McQueen and, as Gareth Pugh remarked from a dank corner last night, his first presentation with Fashion East under a bridge in 2005. Which is to say, a world away from the glossy floors of Harvey Nichols.

But last night’s launch of a collaboration between the department store and Been Trill exists as proof that the blurring of fashion strata results in next-level cool when the parties involved are confronting their differences head-on.

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The project, which partially debuts at Harvey Nichols today, begins with a series of T-shirts designed by Pugh, Kim Jones, Hardy Amies, Linda Farrow, A. Sauvage, Mr. Hare, and Shaun Samson. Come December, fifteen complete looks from the group will be sold in-store, solidifying Been Trill’s acceptance into the fashion establishment.

Been Trill, after all, is a challenging concept—an amorphous mash-up of music, clothes, visual branding, social media, and overall credo—for an industry that insists on attaching labels to every designer, trend, or idea.

From a harshly lit back room within The Vaults, two of Been Trill’s leads, Matthew Williams and Heron Preston, waxed on about how all of their projects, including this one, emerge as call-outs to their diverse clan of creative friends who do what they do because it’s fun. It’s not that everything else is an afterthought, only that the Trill-ness dictates the product. And now the Harvey Nichols positioning, Williams said, expands the audience from “the mall to Savile Row.” Certainly, the overall wardrobe revels in randomness. From Samson, sweaters and drawstring shorts bearing oversize prints of malachite and howlite rocks; from Amies, a jacquard tuxedo. Jones dug up pieces from his archive, including a white cropped bomber jacket. Been Trill’s influence on Linda Farrow yielded rubber and acetate square frames tipped with gold-plated titanium studs and anchored by a prominent nose bridge. Why collaborate if you’re going to play it safe?

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Giddy to show off the achingly cool tableau vivant and fifteen-minute film costarring Lily McMenamy (who also stars in the lookbook shot by Brett Lloyd, which debuts exclusively here on Style.com), Williams grew even more excited upon praise from one of his idols, ShowStudio’s Nick Knight. Knight snapped a few photos of Williams wearing one of Jones’ reissued shirts from Jones’ 2011 collection for Korean brand Beanpole, and later posted an indecipherable photo to Instagram.

Shortly after posing for a group portrait with all the collaborators, Pugh said that Been Trill captures a youthful energy that stimulates fresh thinking. “It allows us to recontextualize our menswear from a different viewpoint. What we’re known for is something different than what they’re known for. But they put it together in such a way that proves to me we can do other things.”

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Mr. Hare’s Marc Hare, who specially produced three styles of limited-run sneakers with a large hashtag applied in silicone injection molding atop the toe, explained that the appeal of Been Trill is its fluidity. “There’s a lot of stuff going on as far as photography and influences and inspirations—the stuff being referenced is much more interesting. And the graphical execution of what they do is fantastic.”

Together, Williams and Preston expressed satisfaction that Been Trill is growing despite having no grand plan—except, perhaps, for trademarking their signature hashtag use. They began explaining the intricacies of these uncharted intellectual property waters before being summoned away. It was time for them to DJ.

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Photo: Getty; Lookbook by Brett Lloyd, styled by Tom Guinness

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