Is Christopher Raeburn the busiest man in Fashion at the moment ? Well, all signs and signals point to YES. As you read this post his Menswear Autumn/Winter 13 show for London Collections:MEN should be taking place, as he readied himself to present his womenswear collection next month, during the womenswear shows in London. Only last week it was announced by Victorinox, the creator of the Swiss Army Knife, that he has been appointed the Artistic Director of its Fashion Division. After they commissioned Raeburn to create a Remade in Switzerland capsule line for AW11. 2013 will see Christopher work with his brother Graeme, lead product designer with the Brilliant and uber trendy cycling brand Rapha, on a special edition capsule range for city cyclists.
He’s come a long way since appearing on a Fashion Design Reality TV Show, Project Catwalk. Launching in 2008, his collection was selected by the Imperial War Museum for their exhibition “Camouflage”. His signature collections consists of elegant outerwear for Men and Women which is made from decommissioned military stock, matching ethical values with cutting-edge design.
His Spring/Summer 13 Mens Collection is the embodiment of the two characteristics his designs have become known for: style and function. The collection demonstrated his commitment to supporting the British textile industry, this season features fabrics either sourced from London’s Crescent Trading or manufactured by Halley Stevenson of Dundee.
In he’s first interview since becoming the Artistic Director of Victorinox, the NEWGEN MEN and British Fashion Award winner, gives us an insight not only into his forthcoming AW13 collection but what makes Christopher Raeburn tick.
If you could have invented anything what would it be ?
Amazing question; maybe the Swiss Army Knife? It’s amazing to have invented something that so many people share an emotional relationship with and that’s so universally trusted and respected.
If you had one day to live what would be your biggest regret?
Not seeing the Northern Lights (yet); in fact not making it that far North in the world at all (or South). Not quite sure where my obsession with the bleakness and fragility of the Antarctic and Arctic comes from but I’d like to get to see them one day.
What inspires you?
Archeology, good design, animals, print, graphic, emotion, sport, colour, textures, happy accidents, travel, collaborations, provenance, technique, skill, aptitude, Inuit survival skills, BBC documentaries, Neil Young, pressure, age, reading, listening to people, teaching.
Who is your style icon? Why?
I always find this type of question tricky – I’ve realized that my icons have changed dependent on what I’m looking for or am interested in at that point. Steve McQueen has got to be up there but I’ve got a lot of admiration for Sir Ranulph Fiennes.
If you could give your teenage self advice, what would it be?
I wish I’d happened across Fischli and Weiss advise on work a little earlier so I’d probably ask myself to have a quick read:
1.Do one thing at a time
2.Know the problem
3.Learn to listen
4.Learn to ask questions
5.Distinguish sense from nonsense
6.Accept change as inevitable
8.Say it simple
In your words, describe the collection ?
Strong, masculine, textured and rich in stories.
What was the inspiration for it ?
I’ve had a long-standing obsession with the Redsand sea forts; they were build during the Second World War to defend London. Essentially they’re seven giant metal towers that were towed out to the sea and then sunk to form defensive platforms; metal bridges connect them to one another. I’ve tried to design the collection imagining what it would be like to live in them today; we’ve worked a lot to bring interesting fabrics, techniques and detailing to the collection so that each piece really has it’s own story.
What are the key pieces in it?
I’m really proud of this season’s Pop-Out Parka; it’s a duel layer garment – the outer shell is constructed from 1950’s rubberized cotton capes mixed with foul weather trousers. We completely deconstruct the original garments and then re-work them into a new, limited edition piece – they all have the labeling “Remade in England”. Other key pieces include the Breton jersey range and the new accessories – we have some fantastic new rucksacks, satchels and hold-alls.
What track would always get you on the dance floor ?
Anything by Pulp, or Joy Division (although probably not everything). Am I allowed to say Fleetwood Mac?
How do spent your free time ?
Cycling is still a must for me and I’m keen on the odd challenge – last year I did the Welsh 3000’s (climbing the 15 mountains above 3000ft in 24 hours), basically I’m happy doing anything that gets me out and about.
What piece of clothing would you relegate to Room 101 ?
I was going to say shell-suits but couldn’t banish the 1980s childhood memories completely (rose-tinted spectacles I guess). Time and a place for everything I suppose.
If you could collaborate with one brand (Who you currently aren’t) who would it be and why?
I’m always keen to collaborate with brands where it can be a true partnership and make sense for both parties – John Smedley on Knitwear would be amazing. It’s also nice to think a little leftfield; Disney would be fun or I’d quite like to collaborate with a furniture designer or even product design.
What piece of style advise do you live by?