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August 21 2014

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7 posts tagged "Aitor Throup"

The Ever-Expanding Design Influence of Aitor Throup

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Aitor Throup

Aitor Throup’s eerie, anatomical drawings have always been a critical component of his body of work. If you’d ever seen only them, you’d be inclined to label him an artist, though it’s as a menswear designer that Throup has insinuated himself into pop culture. And yet, every time he surfaces on Style.com, it’s with a new project that is as much art as fashion. And so it is with this installment of our semi-regular ThroupWatch.

The blurred lines are amplified by the fact that Throup has never really functioned as a fashion designer. In the eight years since he graduated from the Royal College of Art, he has managed to duck the industry’s swinging seasonal timetable. He’s designed collections—though they are better described as “projects”—without ever actually bringing anything to market, until last year’s “New Object Research,” which was a carefully curated overview of his output to date. The clothes quickly sold out in the handful of stores around the world that carried them.

But if there has never been much with his own label attached, that doesn’t mean Throup hasn’t been shaping a singular and stealthily influential presence. He’s always busy with consultancies, for instance. The latest—for Amsterdam-based denim label G-Star Raw—was announced yesterday. He’s also created the visual identities for Damon Albarn’s new album, Everyday Robots, and he’s designing everything for the band Kasabian, from stage design to album sleeves to videos. The latest, “Eez-Eh,” features a cameo by Noomi Rapace (see it here, above), who gets to unleash her rock ‘n’ roll animal alongside the band. The immediacy of the whole thing suggests Throup is getting a much bigger kick out of this sort of stuff than fashion. The sneaky thought even occurs that he keeps himself so busy with outside projects so he never actually has to face up to his own.

Not at all, he insisted last night at a Q&A in London’s Design Museum. Throup claimed all his projects—whatever, wherever they are—feed into each other. They’re all part of the same curatorial exercise, refining his ideas with the ultimate goal of “creating an intrinsic style that only has itself as a point of reference.” And if that sounds grandiose, consider that it’s a similar obsessive impulse that has shaped the careers of true innovators like Azzedine Alaïa, Rei Kawakubo, and Vivienne Westwood. No surprise, then, that innovation was the key word in G-Star’s announcement. Throup’s own definition of what he does is “deeply charged art in the form of product innovation,” which not only provides a bridge between artist and designer, but also promises plenty more fodder for ThroupWatch.

Aitor Throup’s “Deeply Charged Art” Is Coming to a Store Near You

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Aitor Throup's "On the Effect of Ethnic Stereotyping"
It’s been seven years since he graduated from the Royal College of Art—seven years of mind-bending manifestos, endless obsessive sampling, teasers, feints, and false starts, and God knows there were times when it seemed like the day would never come. But at last it’s here. On Thursday, Aitor Throup, the philosopher king of London menswear, released his first complete collection to a handful of stores around the world: Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Atelier in New York, H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles, I.T. in Hong Kong and Beijing, and Rail in Brescia, Italy. In typical Throup style, leaving nothing to chance, the launch is supported by a full platform of explanatory visuals, exclusively revealed here on Style.com.

It’s probably fairer to call New Object Research a project rather than a collection, although it does in fact collate items from the four concepts Throup has been evolving over the years—like the Skanda jacket from When Football Hooligans Become Hindu Gods, or the riding jacket from Mongolia, or the Saxophone shirt from The Funeral of New Orleans—into one seamless group. “Evolution” is an appropriate catchall. “Even since we showed in January, we’ve taken it to another level with production,” the designer enthused the other day in an East End studio teeming with assistants packing up clothes for shipment.

But nestled inside his evolution is a revolution in construction and fabrication, all of it produced right downstairs in that teeming studio (which is remarkable enough itself, given that some of the fabrics sound like purest science). To see it all, he’s worked with a design firm to create rotating, 360-degree views of the pieces on his Web site, like the one below. And what to see? There’s a new zipper system, new buttonhole technology, the signature trousers that don’t finish where the ankles finish, seams like you’ve never seen before, and, my personal favorites, Throup’s ergonomic sleeves, which have an internal elastic articulation that anticipates movement. However it works, it feels better than any sleeve I’ve ever had on my arm. Cristobal Balenciaga, fashion’s most famous sleeve-obsessive, would be green with envy. Continue Reading “Aitor Throup’s “Deeply Charged Art” Is Coming to a Store Near You” »

Letter From London: Aitor Throup and Richard James

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Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter, and the new chairman of the British Fashion Council, was in a justifiably good mood after three days of men’s shows in London. We were talking about the factors that contributed to shows’ success, and one thing that was instantly obvious was how the established and the edge have come together under one umbrella: Savile Row and…well, whatever Aitor Throup is.

Throup’s presentation in a gallery in King’s Cross (above) was titled New Object Research, but the parentheses were more significant: (The full reveal of the first complete ready-to-wear collection). Twenty pieces arranged in four looks is scarcely complete in any traditional sense, but it was the culmination of six years of work, and six years of intense optimism on the part of industry insiders who’ve patiently clung to the conviction that Throup brings something unique to fashion. It was certainly on display here in the extraordinary construction of the clothes and the stark beauty of their presentation. Throup is a man obsessed. All he wants is a new way to do things, and once he has mastered that way, he would love it to become an industry standard. You haven’t appreciated a buttonhole until you’ve heard him detail the process with which he closes his garments. And to hear him talk about the perfect shoulder is surely a glimpse of what Cristobal Balenciaga’s acquaintances must have endured as Cris nattered on about sleeves.

But a similar fixation on detail has been the fundament of British menswear since Beau Brummell first went to his military tailor in 1790-something and said, “I want you to make me this.” Richard James’ presentation on Tuesday (left) made it quite clear that he is Throup’s diametric opposite, but maybe they’d recognize the subversion in each other. James is dressing men of power and industry (David Cameron, the prime minister, wore a James suit at his Downing Street reception for the men’s collections) but the press notes for his Fall presentation quoted lyrics from the Small Faces’ acid fantasy “Itchycoo Park.” Yes, the collection was inspired by London’s parks, but Itchycoo was a very special one. It’s always been part of James’ charm that he insinuates left-field references into his work. Here, there was tailoring in the blue of sky, the green of grass, the maroon of a Kray’s night out—not quite psychedelic, but bright nonetheless. And he had the best front row of the week: Magic Mike‘s Alex Pettyfer, The Hobbit‘s Martin Freeman, Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes, and everyone’s Tinie Tempah. Now there’s a dinner party. And that’s London now.

Photo: Aitor Throup—Courtesy of Aitor Throup; Richard James—Mike Marsland/ WireImage via Getty Images

At Pitti, Collaborations From Kimmel And Throup

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Among the 1,000-plus exhibitors at the 79th edition of Pitti, which opened in Florence on Tuesday, were Adam Kimmel and Aitor Throup, two longtime Style.com favorites, both launching new collaborations with iconic heritage brands and both coming up trumps by creating gotta-have-it hybrids between past and future that will make next fall a better place to be.

Kimmel worked with Carhartt. (A first look from that collection is above.) In his case, that was a whole lotta history. The family-owned company has been dressing America’s working stiffs since 1889, which is the kind of durable blue-collar kudos that has ensured Carhartt’s coolness with skaters and snowboarders. In other words, Kimmel’s heroes when he was a kid. He himself got his first piece of Carhartt outerwear—synthetic duck, quilt lining, corduroy collar (they still make it)—when he was 10. His own take on the brand is, in fact, less a collaboration than a 29-piece Kimmel collection manufactured by Carhartt, so he is able, as he says, “to offer a product at an incredible price point” to an audience that may have craved his Italy-produced signature line without having the readies to buy it. That said, the Kimmel-Carhartt connection is umbilical. The designer has always been acutely sensitive to function in his clothes, and his silhouette has always been forgiving—he used to call it “an American cut,” as opposed to Euro skinny-minnie. Still, he’s trimmed some of the Carhartt bulk. The stiffness is gone, too. In fact, to wear these clothes is to love them. A worker’s jacket in an almost luminous indigo moleskin was softer than velvet. A substantial parka/jean jacket hybrid (2-in-1 pieces are a Kimmel signature) was much lighter on the body than on the hanger. Such user-friendliness will win hearts, minds, and dollars when Kimmel/Carhartt shows up at Barneys later in the year. (Barneys’ Jay Bell brokered the relationship, so the store has an exclusive.)


Barneys is also where you’ll find Aitor Throup’s latest collaboration with sportswear giant Umbro (above). Last year, he remodeled the English football team’s uniform for its ill-fated World Cup appearance in South Africa. Now, he’s revisiting ten iconic pieces from Umbro’s archives (for example, the jacket worn by manager Alf Ramsay in 1966, the year England won the Cup). Throup is obsessive in his research. There’s at least two years’ worth in this new venture (it’s actually called Archive Research Project), and there aren’t many designers who could match Throup’s understanding of the way an athlete’s body moves in clothing. He refers to it as “data informing design,” which, techspeak aside, produces garments that follow and flatter the human form as elegantly and effectively as the finest bespoke tailoring. Throup is quick to point out that when Umbro launched in 1924, footballers’ uniforms were tailor-made. In restoring the essence of that tradition, he’s guaranteeing that sportswear will never be the same.

Photos: Courtesy of Adam Kimmel; Courtesy of Umbro

The Pitti Preview

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Raffaello Napoleone, Pitti Immagine’s dapper CEO, convened a group of editors and trade officials—many chattering away in Italian—at Quattro in New York City for a briefing on the upcoming Pitti Uomo and Pitti W fairs. It was a whirlwind visit (Napoleone and company headed for the airport while most were still sipping espresso), but the news was all good. As has been announced, Gareth Pugh (left) will be the invited guest, presenting his new womenswear collection in Florence in January. (Via video message, he expressed his gratitude; Pitti’s special events director hinted that he’d be showing in an unlikely location—one that had never hosted a fashion show before.) Trussardi will be the invited guest for men’s, but the company has plans that go far beyond fashion. In the Stazione Leopalda in the heart of Florence, the label will not only host its fashion show, but also present an exhibition called 8 ½, one that will include contemporary artworks by Maurizio Catellan, Paul McCarthy, and Tino Sehgal. (There’ll even be a house made of bread, courtesy of Swiss conceptual artist Urs Fischer.) And Alberta Ferretti will kick off the event with a special collection presented, she said, “for women everywhere.”

The Florentine trade fair, which runs from January 11 to 14, will also play host to a variety of intriguing launches: a new archival project London-based designer Aitor Throup is undertaking with Umbro; a capsule collection celebrating the centennial of the Italian suit line Lubiam; and a new project from Adam Kimmel, who took his turn as Pitti’s invited menswear guest two years ago.

Photo: Courtesy of Pitti Immagine