They say that financially rough times and economic cuts in society bring out the best in creative artists and designers. That's true in more ways than one when looking closer at Belgian designer Kris van Assche's Winter offering. Not only inspired by the dire situation, Van Assche also physically referenced the relationship between the money men (bankers) and the blue collar workers. And he did it in a quite literal way; cobalt blue workwear uniforms shared the catwalk with white shirts, pinstriped suits and ties. But it was more complicated than that. Cleverly, Van Assche fused and mixed the two together. For example, we saw dungarees in formal suit fabrics and quilted nylon jackets with pinstriped sleeves.
"It was about the bankers with their white collars and the blue collar workers of the world in workwear. It was about those two realities of menswear"
On the other hand many of the suits featured details not worn by many bankers... either they came layered underneath a gilet, closed with big straps instead of buttons or were buttoned all the way up, like a storekeeper's uniform, instead of the usual lapels. The utilitarian feeling was of course perfectly matched by Van Assche's Eastpak collab, which saw mini rucksacks hang from the waist, carpenter belts, and his new Lee jeans collaboration. There aren't many more workwear-associated fabrics than denim!
"Usually it's the workers who need protective clothes but with this economic crisis going on, bankers need the same type of protection"
Wide and cigar shaped trousers are silhouettes long affiliated with Van Assche, but this time around they weren't so tapered at the bottom, but rather wide and voluminous. Together with a few lapelless kimono-style jackets some outfits remined us of Oriental martial arts uniforms. Towards the end we saw a section of more traditional mixed wool suits that any off-duty banker wouldl be able to walk proud in... but Van Assche couldn't resist one last go at them - he sent out a dungaree version of that fabric as well. Power to the people!
Dazed Digital: What was the general idea behind the show?
Kris Van Assche: It was about the bankers with their white collars and the blue collar workers of the world in workwear. It was about those two realities of menswear, but mixed up in one outfit.
DD: Where did all the protective gear come in to the picture, like all the glasses with side protection...
Kris Van Assche: Usually it's the workers who need protective clothes but with this economic crisis going on, bankers need the same type of protection. It's two worlds mixing...
DD: I liked how a few traditional workwear pieces, like the dungarees, came in pinstriped fabrics...
Kris Van Assche: Yeah, I like both the traditional tailoring and more casual workwear but I had never mixed them into one piece until now!
DD: Did you mix the other way around as well?
Kris Van Assche: Yes, some of the white shirts had squares on them that were made of screws, so there was a lot of details like that.
DD: Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?
Kris Van Assche: I really like the look of the finale, that's why I had five guys walk out wearing the same clothes; a black jacket, white shirt, tie and wide blue worker trousers!