Conventional wisdom dictates that the menswear scene in London be neatly divided into the elder established statesmen and the young independent designers; but the work of Aitor Throup – the cerebral Argentine-born visionary defies easy categorisation. After all his mutated silhouettes which draw equally from his love of anatomy and drawing may represent some new pure kind of sportswear but his tailoring skills match any Savile Row trained cutter. Until now his obsessive, unconventional approach has stood outside the relentless fashion cycle, but he made a return to the menswear arena with an intriguing presentation at St Martins Lane Hotel during London Collections: Men announcing the launch of his eponymous line where his unique concepts will finally be turned into product. Here Dazed shows an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of the presentation and talks to Throup.
Dazed Digital: Why has it taken so long to launch your label?
Aitor Throup: I hadn’t figured out a business model that allows me to not create new ideas seasonally, that allows me to keep working on my existing ideas, expanding my existing concept, and because I needed time to get the product to as high a level of product as it was a concept.
DD: Why did you decide on a presentation for this season?
Aitor Throup: To be honest with you, I recognise that there’s that much depth and story to every project that I work on. Actually, in 2008, when I worked on the last stand-alone concept, of which I have six now, I literally had to stop myself, to not create anything new. And I haven’t created any other stand-alone projects since then, because I really felt the responsibility of communicating everything that I’ve done up to then, before I do a new one. I feel like I’ve got these six unfinished concepts. And that’s partly what the brand is supposed to do, to explain those six concepts properly, which I can’t wait to do, I feel like it will be a big weight off my shoulders, and then I can move onto the seventh concept. But that’s why, because my work has been so reliant on explanation, the format that has worked the best for me is to subvert the psychology of the fashion show, where the objects are active and the audience is passive. Really I can benefit much more from the audience being active around passive object. They can look at it for longer, and try to understand it.
DD: Would you like them to get to a stage where you don’t need to keep explaining it? Where someone can look at it and understand what you were thinking?
Aitor Throup: Yeah, I can’t wait. Totally. I think a lot of the time, the project was bigger than the time allocated to it, so now I’m trying to go back and do justice to my archive of concepts first.
DD: Do you feel ready to enter the fashion cycle of showing something new every 6 months?
Aitor Throup: With fashion, you can only gain as much depth to a project as a month of design will give you, which I find really sad sometimes. Some concepts that I’ve seen with fashion designers that are extremely interesting, and I just think, if only they’d had more time to develop them. In my case, what I’m really aiming for is that there are archetypes that are born out of certain concepts. So this business model allows us to evolve the archetypes, so that this one thing gets better and you can go deeper. And interestingly, it allows you to generate new concepts that are more natural than the normal six month cycle would be. Because a six month thematic concept goes against the need to be creative.
DD: Tell us about the skull bag you’re producing...
Aitor Throup: I don’t want to divert focus away from this idea of objects and archetypes. I’m not a fashion designer, I’m a product designer, and I can prove that by conceptually justifying every single item I’ve made. The skulls find the origins in a 2006 collection that took the story of a group of football hooligans transforming into Hindu Gods as its point of departure - specifically the skulls reference the necklace made from skulls depicted in statues of the Hindu deity Shiva. You can also find skulls in some of my other concepts, such as my response to the wrongful killing of Jean Charles de Menezes with the '22 July 2005' concept where an upside down backpack in the shape of a skull subverts the negative connotation of that item of clothing - it's not that I am obsessed with skulls or death, but I am drawn to them as studies of anatomy and also as reminders of our mortality. So that to me as an object, the upside down skull as a rucksack, represents that to me perfectly, instinctively. So we’ve expanded on that as well and created an outfit out of that concept. And I consider that to be an important concept that I want to keep revisiting and continuing. Almost like an artist, that’s my heritage, or whatever, that’s everything I’ve done up to now.
Film Jim Yeomans
Music Serge Pizzorno