meet daniel w. fletcher, a young london designer on the rise
Fresh from his Brexit protest at LC:M this summer, the recent CSM grad is opening a London pop-up to launch his spring/summer 17 collection. Take an exclusive peek inside here.
Since graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2015, menswear designer Daniel W. Fletcher has protested against Brexit, been awarded the BFC Fashion Film Award, and is now opening a pop-up store on Soho's coveted Bedford Street. Ahead of the store's public opening today, i-D caught up with Daniel to chat politics and retail, and get the exclusive scoop on his spring/summer 17 collection.
What was the thought process behind launching your first pop up store?
The shop felt like the natural next step for the brand. I've been at it a year now, since graduating, and although I've got some great stockists and an e-commerce platform, I don't have a retail presence in London and I wanted people who follow what I do to be able to come and see the product in person. E-commerce is great for young designers but personally if I've never seen anything from a brand in the flesh, and don't know the quality or the fit, I'd be hesitant to buy online. This shop will give Londoners the opportunity and to come and experience my full vision in a space I have curated, something that doesn't usually happen in multi-brand stores where you are mixed in with other designers.
You're working with renowned architect Farshid Moussavi. How did that relationship come about?
Farshid and I met when she designed the Victoria Beckham store. We got on instantly; she's a formidable woman and one of my biggest supporters. When I told her I was starting my own label she said she'd like to design a space for me one day, but I don't think either of us expected it to be this soon! The store looks completely different now to how I first imagined it; it wasn't until Farshid came in and showed me what we could do with it that it reached this point. I feel like she really understands the brand and was able to reflect it in the design.
Can you tell us some of the inspiration behind the store's design?
It responds to my collections. The furnishings and materials used in the space are similar to those I use in my designs. There are a lot of stripes, which have been a recurring theme in my work since my graduate collection pajama shirts. We've combined that with a continuous rail along one side to draw the eye down the length of the store and create a fully immersive space; we managed to get these great lights from LTS too, which run in line with the stripes on the ceiling. It feels very graphic.
The basement of the store is a gallery space. Can you explain a bit about your relationship with fashion and art?
The space downstairs was a bit of a bonus. I've used it to hang a selection of editorial images featuring the collections on sale. They are from various magazines that have supported me over the past year; I wanted to show my appreciation to these titles and show a different perspective of the clothes. Upstairs is about my vision of the brand but the basement is more about seeing how it can be taken in other directions. It's less about treating these images as art, but more about celebrating the diversity of responses to the same product. It's about reflection, creating a rounded view of the brand for the people who visit the store.
What are your thoughts on the current fashion retail and online shopping landscapes? Do you think it's necessary to make the retail experience more than just buying clothes — or does this detract from the hard sell?
I think there's a misconception that retail is no longer relevant and brands should focus on web sales. Yes, online shopping is a key part of the industry now, and e-commerce has opened a lot of doors for young designers like myself, but I still think that it's vital for customers to be able to see what they are buying in person, especially when it's a premium product. I'm not talking about opening loads of stores but having a flagship that can tell the story of the brand is something I think is really important.
Your spring/summer 17 collection, which will be previewed in the pop up, grabbed headlines for its anti-Brexit stance. What's been the feedback from this, and what are your views six months on?
I think it's an absolute joke that we are leaving the EU. I felt so strongly about it that I had to make it a part of my collection, which was shown just before the referendum. It's clear that the majority of our generation felt the same way too so it's really sad that it feels like we have been ignored. As a young business owner too I'm already feeling the effects; I have suppliers in France and Italy and the value of the pound is making it more expensive, thanks Boris!
How important do you think it is for young designers to have a political viewpoint?
I think if you have a platform to express yourself and if people are paying attention to it, then you should use it to spread a positive message. For me that's been quite political, because I've been responding to what's happening around me, which is natural as a designer, and even if others don't have the same views I think it's right to start these discussions. Not everyone wants to hear from balding middle aged politicians all the time!
What's next for the brand? More DJing following your Halloween stint at the Queen Adelaide?
For sure, the next PIGGERY is November 26 and it's going to be a mad one! Other than that I'm preparing for fall/winter 17 in January; I've just been awarded a slot on the schedule for a digital presentation so after the shop has closed, it will be full steam ahead for the next month working towards that.
i-D always says, "a smile and a wink gets you further than you think." What's currently making you both smile and wink?
I've given a lot of winks to the staff of Cafe Nero on Bedford Street in the past week. There's no toilet in the store, so we have all been traipsing in and out covered in paint to use their 'facilities.' I definitely owe them some store discount! And the new Glass Animals album is making me smile!
Text Greg French
Portrait Josh Fray
Photography Dham Srifuengfung
Styling Michael Darlington
Grooming Patrick Forini
Casting Sophie Lynas @LED