We caught up with the designer to find out more at London Collections: Men.
Hi Andrew. Tell us a bit about your new collection, Northern Powerhouse.
It’s my personal response to the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ term that’s being bandied about by the media and government at the moment. Being a Northern designer, I’m affected by the imbalance that’s prevalent between the south and the north, so [the collection] is how I put these ideas visually into my designs.
I love the strong use of colours and prints – they make a real statement, which is always exciting to see in men’s fashion.
Yeah, the influences behind those varied widely. Some are from my past clubbing experiences in the North… currently I also travel a lot down the M1 and back to come to London, so those situations have influenced me.
The A/W16 range is very different from your S/S16 monochrome collection, Grey_scale. Would you say that you’re a designer who tries to tell a completely new story each season, rather than working on a single theme?
With the way I do collections, they always have a narrative or story intertwined in them. I like to go against the grain. Your expectation is that Autumn/Winter is all about grey and black, but I did that for Spring/Summer… I couldn’t have gone greyer or blacker for this one! So I thought, ‘What can I do to make it stand out?’ I need to shout when I’m down here, not being a London-based designer – to big up the North, somehow. Some of the graphical elements in the collection came from the interior of The Haçienda club in Manchester, designed by Ben Kelly, and it kind of just spiralled from there through the designs. It’s quietly strong in the way it uses graphics – it’s a clever approach, I think.
You mentioned that you feel you need to ‘shout’ in London – do you think Northern designers face more challenges than those based in the capital?
Because I’m from the North, I kind of see London being blinkered into the mindset that it’s all about London… I know we’re at London Collections: Men which is based in London, but there’s also a lot going on around the country, fashion-wise. When you look at the history of fashion, the North has always had great fashion scenes, like the scallies, and especially in the 90’s. It’s like, ‘Should there be a revival, should people look further afield from London?’ When you’re in London, it can be pretty intense and all London-focused – so I’m coming down here and flying the flag for Northerners!
If you could choose anyone to model your new designs for the A/W16 lookbook, who would it be?
David Bowie! He has guts, I think he’d be up for it.
And if you had to pick a song that represents the A/W16 collection…?
Definitely ‘Blue Monday’, by New Order. You’ll know why when you look at the designs!
You first launched Studio 805 back in 2009. Has it always been smooth sailing, as a brand?
I’d always made clothes, for years and years, so I first set the label up when I graduated in 2008. I had a few stop-starts along the way since then, but in the last few years we’ve seriously sorted the business out, doing trade shows and coming down to LCM. Getting support from the Centre for Fashion Enterprise was brilliant, and there’s also an initiative happening in Leeds at the moment to try and rebuild the manufacturing side of fashion there. It’s all kicking off; it’s a great time to be designing.
What would you say has been your biggest learning curve?
Developing my own confidence in design, and knowing that I can do it.
How would you describe the Studio 805 man?
I don’t necessarily think of someone when I’m designing. I wear my clothes all the time, so I’m inspired by what I can get away with, and that feeds into the clothes I produce. I don’t really look at other people or trends to get inspiration – it’s more about what interests me at the time, and look forward to wearing. That’s the great thing about being a designer: if you’ve got the skills, you can make your own clothes!
What advice would you give to wannabe designers starting out today?
If you’re serious about doing it, you’ll find a way of getting in there. Everyone has a different route into fashion – mine was a bit late, but if you look at Vivienne Westwood, she started when she was 40. If you enjoy it, do it.
You’ve shown at LCM for a few seasons now – what do you think is the best thing about the event?
Getting to meet people. When you’re in the studio, you can kind of get enveloped by a collection, so it’s nice to break out from that. Speak to people, explain what you’re doing, meet up with friends… it’s nice to socialise down here.
What have you got lined up for the rest of 2016?
I haven’t even thought about it yet, there’s so much to continually keep planning. I’ve got the S/S16 collection to start selling, and I need to start thinking about S/S17, and then we have the Capsule trade show in Paris later this month. You learn to juggle a lot of balls in fashion, and I’m looking forward to getting some help in now with a couple of interns. Previously I did everything myself, which wasn’t really possible… but I’m learning!