JONATHAN ANDERSON // JW ANDERSON

As head of his eponymous label, and artistic director of the Loewe brand since 2013, Jonathan Anderson is one of the most prolific designers of his generation. With his artistic sensibilities and democratic approach to fashion, this Northern-Irish designer is one of the most interesting figures in the fashion industry today. Interview.

Monnier Frères: When you were young you wanted to be an actor. Do you remember when fashion became a plan for you?
Jonathan Anderson: I was always interested in making things, even from childhood. It was a bit of a gradual change at first. It wasn’t really a plan. I guess it became something more concise when I started at London College of Fashion.

MF: How working for Prada with Manuela Pavesi helped you to shape your vision?
J.A.: Manuela was incredible. She had an impeccable sense of style that impressed everyone. She gave me some of the best advice I ever got in my professional life: never compromise. I try to follow that advice with every collection, every day.

MF: You always make room for art in your collections (at JW Anderson’s as well as Loewe’s) and even brought sculptures and paintings into the stores to give people the opportunity to admire them and make them feel like they’re in a museum. How important is it for you that fashion be so close to art?
J.A.: For the last JW Anderson show in London we had this work by Liz Magor, a Canadian artist, in the centre of the room. She said something really interesting about how her piece was examining the experience of looking. I think art can influence how we look at fashion.

 

Also, I have always been interested in contemporary art so it makes sense for me to include art in proximity to my collections.

MF: You once said that you loved objects more than anything. Do you consider your creations to be more « objects » than « clothing »?
J.A.: I think clothing is an object, no? It’s something we can covet or experience and is created. Sometimes by hand. Sometimes by machine.

MF: By bringing art to fashion and designing for both men and women but also for many demographics and social strata (thanks to JW Anderson, Loewe, Uniqlo and even Topshop back in the days) you proved that fashion could be very democratic. What is the motive of being so diverse?
J.A.: I want to be able to create amazing collections but I also want to be able to create for people that don’t have thousands of pounds to spend on fashion to be able to have something they feel beautiful or comfortable in.

MF: JW Anderson started as a menswear brand. How is it different to design for women?
J.A.: I wear a pretty basic uniform every day. Uniqlo t-shirt or jumper in dark colors. Jeans. When I design, for men or women, I kind of project myself a bit. I think of the man and what I would love to wear down the street. And same for the woman really.

MF: You were at the forefront of unisex fashion back in 2013 with your AW13 collection. How has unisex fashion evolved since?
J.A.: I think a lot of brands are talking about it but their attempts feel a bit inauthentic.

MF: You created a fair number of it-bags since you started. Do you know these pieces are going to be big when you design them?
J.A.: It’s incredible. Sometimes you know it and, boom, it’s a huge success. Other times it’s a slow burn with momentum building gradually. And then sometimes you think it’s going to be huge and it just doesn’t work. It happens. I try to learn from those moments.

MF: Nowadays, many designers complain about the pace of fashion. You design many collections for JW Anderson and Loewe each year and you also design several collaborations. How do you manage to get everything done without getting burnt out?

J.A.: I work very far in advance. My calendar is planned out a year ahead. That’s the only way to do it. Yes, I work very hard and non-stop but it’s also all very well-organised which makes all the difference.

MF: More importantly: how do you manage to create so much, address so many different customers and while still remaining true to your style and identity?
J.A.: I have so many ideas on any given day. Editing is more difficult than coming up with new ideas.

 

Marine Poyer

 

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