British menswear duo Cottweiler reveal why our cover star asked them to tweak their signature sporty look for her first solo tour
Cottweiler is the brainchild of Matt Dainty and Ben Cottrell, a concept-led luxe menswear label that transgresses the boundaries of fashion with clean lines and strong silhouettes – a merger between the disparate realms of high fashion and sportswear. Cottweiler’s multi-dimensional aesthetic and strong collaborative history across genres of music, illustration, and film – with the likes of Daniel Swan and East Village Boys – caught the roving eye of Dazed cover star FKA twigs. The relationship culminated in Cottweiler’s custom-designed pieces for twigs’s first solo UK tour, reimagining their classic menswear image to create fitted feminine pieces with a contrasting oversized aesthetic. Their recent presentation as part of LC:M, with white-washed boys lounging in lawn chairs, was just a jumping off point for their creative infusion for twigs's avant-garde threads.
How has twigs influenced your designs, both an individual character and through her music?
Cottweiler: twigs has a refinement and elegance that has inspired us.
What initially attracted you to working with twigs?
Cottweiler: We had been listening to her music before meeting, although we eventually met by chance through a mutual friend at our studio. It was clear from the outset that we shared similar views as well as being at similar stages in our careers. Music is very important to us and it is a pleasure to work with someone whose style is so adaptable and distinctive.
As a menswear label, how did you come to design the costumes for her first UK tour?
Cottweiler: twigs comes to hang out and go through the seasonal collections and archive pieces. From there we adapt the fits and and discuss the detailing together, depending on the project or show she is working on. We have developed patterns for twigs to her measurements for the more fitted pieces, although a lot of the men’s pieces work on her, as the oversized silhouette adds a new angle.
What are the main differences between designing menswear and womenswear?
Cottweiler: For us we don’t really define it as men's and womenswear. It’s menswear that works on women.
You use a lot of sheer fabrics in your designs, such as the shell jacket, what attracts you to these minimalist designs and fabrics?
Cottweiler: It’s very important for us to not add detailing for the sake of it, we would rather the cut and fit is focused on so we design in the cleanest way possible. Fabrication is very important and the touch and quality is key. As we tend not to use a lot of colour, the sheer shell fabrics absorb or filter light giving them a colour of sorts.
“It was clear from the outset that we shared similar views as well as being at similar stages in our careers. Music is very important to us and it is a pleasure to work with someone whose style is so adaptable and distinctive” – Cottweiler
You designed the crop top twigs is wearing in the 'Papi Pacify' video. What inspired that design?
Cottweiler: She showed us the concept and lighting references for 'Papi Pacify' so we began playing around with reflective tape as we thought this would translate well on film. We had been using a lot of taping to frame the body and create lines that accentuate shape, so we used the same method to make a kind of sports-bra harness. We did this by directly placing the reflective tape around her until it looked flattering but still dramatic. There is a look of restriction when you see the final piece on her, which really suited the concept for the video, but it still had to be comfortable and practical. twigs has a very strong idea as to what she likes, not only in the concept for each design, but also how it functions in its end use.
What iconography do you draw upon to create your designs?
Cottweiler: It varies from season to season and depends on the type of project with twigs, whether it be a music video or stage performance. It is important for us to start with something we have seen or experienced in person, or a situation or environment we have been in. We then expand on that and research deeper to understand more of a certain subject. This has ranged from eastern European forest raves to free diving.
In what ways do British youth and subcultures inspire your designs?
Cottweiler: We are fascinated by the notion of hidden codes of dress within youth and subcultures, and the way in which a group member can identify with someone else due to a small detail in their clothing or by the way it has been worn.
In the past you’ve spoken about the fusion of sportswear and high fashion. How do you intend to merge these two aesthetics?
Cottweiler: We have been primarily working on the fabrication and cut of our pieces for several years and we are always adapting and improving the fit. This consideration in cut and fit in high fashion and the technicality of sportswear fabrics and functional details is where we see this merger. We use traditional tailoring techniques realised in specially developed sportswear fabrics.