“Sandstorm” — a video created for Christopher Raeburn‘s Spring/Summer 2014 collection — continues the designer’s ongoing exploration of protection and was inspired by the “stoic men of World War Two’s Long Range Desert Group.” A reconnaissance and raiding unit, the men of the LRDG battled the desert’s extreme conditions both day and night and the new collection draws from their surprisingly varied uniforms. Unlike the clothing they wore however, there’s an abundance of top-notch innovation in Raeburn’s latest pieces, including Schoeller – a four-way stretch fabric printed with desert satellite imagery. Vintage fabrics, meanwhile, show up in the designer’s REMADE range, while Raeburn’s signature outerwear and lightweight tailoring complement the more rugged military looks. Watch “Sandstorm” — which was produced in association with The Woolmark Company — here and read on for our recent interview with Christopher Raeburn below.
Where did the inspiration for Sandstorm come from for this season?
When designing the collection we’d taken a lot of interest in the Long Range Desert Group, a British military patrol unit active during the Second World War.
The Sandstorm video became a natural extension of the original concept and the work we do around the idea of protection; taking inspiration from the extremes of the North African desert environment and the uniforms designed to help the LRDG effectively operate. This season it was a real honor to work with director Carl Burgess along with our long term creative partners Regis Tosetti and Simon Palmieri, as always the incredible sounds have been constructed from scratch by Dominic Harwood. We really hope that the final film brings a modern reality to the arid conditions we’d been researching.
What were you looking to achieve visually in your clothing and how were some of the visuals achieved?
This season we worked hard to ensure the collection had enough of a balance to it – layering, textures and surprising mixes of fabrics were key.
It was an interesting opportunity to really research the performance of various fabrics, particularly through our work with Cool Wool, which revealed Merino wool to have unexpected temperature moderation and natural cooling properties.
We also wanted to further our work on camouflage and pattern, so fabric sourcing and design were key elements in the visual development of the collection. For instance we utilized reappropriated 1950s camouflage bivouac sheets and also Schoeller, a four way stretch fabric which we then printed with a stark interpretation of satellite imagery of the desert. We also developed an original mosaic print of this season’s animal, the desert lizard.
How would you describe your aesthetic and do you feel that your interest in technicality in fashion has been more relevant than ever in the current fashion landscape?
Increasingly I think the Christopher Raeburn aesthetic is a hybrid between function and fashion; aiming to produce desirable collections that incorporate strong design and the practical properties of fabrics, deadstock or new.
Technicality is particularly relevant in menswear, as I think male consumers are growing more confident in developing their own style but want to retain elements of masculinity – function is one way of doing this. In a wider definition of technicality, I think there is growing recognition within the industry of the importance of sustainable sourcing and development.
We’ve seen several collaborative projects from you. How do you balance your own interest and inspirations on your own eponymous label vs. the ideas utilized on collaborations?
For me the really important thing with collaborations is that both sides bring something to the final product; it keeps the ideas fresh and ensures the piece is more than just a tweaked repeat. On a personal note I’m always interested to learn more, particularly where technical production is involved.
I’m very proud of the projects with Victorinox, Moncler, Fred Perry, and Rapha cycling and now Porter bags – I’d like to think that each time we were really able to bring a little of the Christopher Raeburn world to the brand we’ve been working with.
What are the next steps upcoming for you?
We’ve just relaunched our website, including a new E-shop that will include product exclusives; at the moment we’re offering a selection of SS13 pieces that have sold out elsewhere. Whilst it compliments our great retail partners, it’s also a unique opportunity for us to explain our distinct approach in greater detail to consumers.
London Fashion Week is also on the horizon and we’re looking forward to showcasing a stride forward in the womenswear collection.