take an exclusive first look at g-star raw research by aitor throup
As G-Star RAW showcase its most directional capsule collection to date during Paris Men's Fashion Week, creative consultant Aitor Throup talks us through the project before sharing his hopes, fears, and dreams for the future of the fashion industry.
Having danced in and out of the industry's spotlight for the last decade, Aitor Throup is ready to step out of his respective design laboratories and let his creativity take centre stage. Fresh from presenting his self-portrait of puppet powered prototypes during London Collections: Men, the Buenos Aires-born, Burnley-raised and London-based creative polymath now shares the first fully formed fruits of his on-going collaboration with G-Star Raw. Both New Object Research and G-Star Raw Research mark an exciting new dawn for Aitor Throup whilst encapsulating his desire to probe, push and promote product design. His two worlds collide beautifully.
"For me, it's always been important to have a foundation, a focus of work, beyond New Object Research, Aitor explained in an interview with i-D late last year. "I'm really lucky to be part of a new family at G-Star. They weren't on my radar but as soon as I explored their archive and visited their offices, I was blown away by their products, they had such integrity. Today, G-Star is my solid foundation and whilst it's so rewarding in itself, this happiness feeds into my other worlds."
After joining as creative consultant in 2014, Aitor has successfully art directed the brand's spring/summer 14 campaign, crafted the concept of the new G-Star flagship store on Oxford Street and engineered the latest G-Star 3D-denim innovation, the Staq pant, but now takes his creative coming together with the Dutch denim label to the next level with the unveiling of the RAW Research collection. "After collaborating in a brand-wide capacity for a couple of years, we took a mutual and logical decision to set up a research and innovation lab within the company," he explains. The first twenty piece RAW Research collection explores the two polar opposite states in the life of a denim garment, using the same Italian selvedge denim fabric throughout. On one extreme: rigid, untreated raw denim, on the other: bleached-white denim where only a hint of indigo remains. Focused on experimenting with product design by clashing tradition and innovation, the laboratory promises to push the possibilities of denim.
What are the ins and outs of this project, both for G-Star and yourself?
I think there are two answers, the surface one and the philosophical one. On the surface, it's a very important project for both G-Star and myself. Particularly because it's the first time that G-Star has done something that has this potential to have this reach, in terms of positioning, of exclusivity. So it's kind of a historic moment for us. I'm very exciting about being able to tell a new part of the G-Star story through this elevated platform, through magazines like yours. So in that sense, it's a showcase of the core values and abilities of G-Star Raw.
On the surface level, that's what it is if you just consume it. But the really cool thing about it, and the really innovative thing I believe we've done, is that we have shifted the business model of the usual capsule collection. It's not a usual capsule collection. We set up a research lab, purely to do prototypes and I talk about this method in my own brand, with New Object Research. You know, the idea of a design studio operating like a car company. You create these concept cars and you show them to the world. Then, they have an inherent value because they're the concept versions, they're super distilled, incredible to look at but also they give you a sneak peek into what's coming in the future, in a commercialised way. So you do the commercial versions later. That's exactly what we're doing here. If Raw research was an internal lab, just to do innovation and exploration and new ideas every season, then you would never have seen the prototypes. We'll just have put them in the collection. That was the idea. But we had a rack of all these prototypes and we were like "wow, all these new ideas in the same fabric look so cool! Why don't we just make that into a capsule collection?" We'll put it out a few months before the same idea is going to make it into the collection. Everything is in one fabric down there, which is really cool. But you can see one of these jackets in light white nylon a few months later in the collection. But you have the blueprint version. That's the long way of describing it, but that is really important I think, this very fresh way to approach the capsule collection. A very open and honest way, to showcase the prototypes of your next collection. I found that really interesting and inspiring.
Is innovation an inherent part of the G-Star Raw DNA?
The history of the brand is about innovation in denim, through 3D particularly. The brand is also about bringing things together that shouldn't match, bringing different components together. Raw has always been about empowering you to be yourself. It's inclusive to everybody. But when you look at the surface, of Raw fabric, Raw denim, it's also part of aesthetic language, and the identity of the brand. We also wanted to explore that. With this fabric, you're proving the essence of Raw, that we accept and allow everybody. Everyone is as valuable as everyone else. Here, we can offer this collection of prototypes in one fabric, which represent both extremes of the life of denim fabric when it deteriorates. So we believe that anyone in those garments is wearing the history of the brand. Even the fabric has a conceptual story
What do you see for the future of fashion, in the next 5 or 10 years?
It's great, because I don't even think about it. I think what's happening now in this industry is so obvious. I recently had a break for about 3 and a half years and since I was away, many of the things that I've been banging on about from the beginning, from season-less collections to questioning the catwalk show, are being discussed by more people. It seems that it has come to a logical evolution. The irrelevance of seasons is the main thing. So I think that it'll naturally become more fluid, and I think it'll be more interesting for the industry and for people who's job it is to extract information from the industry, because things should and I think will happen more sporadically. If you think about all the growth of pre collections, there is a very organic way to fill this gap. It would be nice. Some streetwear brands operate like that. Dropping stuff whenever they want to.
What are your thoughts on the fashion industry?
With G-Star we're operating in a different way, with a general collection where we want to have a constant flow of newness but only when things are ready, I don't care about spring/summer, autumn/winter. That's not the style of the brand at all. I always compared the fashion industry to the music industry. And I know that musicians and labels have time pressures. But it's individual to the band or the label, and it's considering the circumstances of that band or label. But ultimately, imagine if the music industry all had one set of guidelines and time constraints... So if you're a journalist in a music industry, twice a year, everyone releases a new album, every six months. And then you have one week, two week to listen to it all, consume it, understand it, write about it, and then you give it to the public for them to listen to it, and they have to buy it really quick or wait until the end, when it goes in the sale. And after that it's irrelevant, you can't buy it anymore. Because there's a new album. As an artist, if you hold yourself as someone whose creations are valuable, you'd never allow that to happen.
What are your goals for tomorrow and beyond?
We have this great opportunity, this great platform, we enjoy working together... For the time being I'm really focused on G-Star, in my own quiet way, doing my own thing in the studio, with my small team. I do want to continue with New Object Research. And actually G-Star supported the show that I did last week, they believe in the importance of my work. It's very useful for us both for that to continue. It just keeps my brain going outside of G-Star, and I can bring things back here, and vice-versa. So it's mainly those two things. In the last few years I was doing a lot of music videos, filmmaking, work with musician, which is great. And I'm still incorporating that into my work. But I really want to focus on these two platforms.
Interview Malou Briand
Images courtesy of G-Star Raw