Here's How Three Designers Are Moving Menswear Fabrics Forward

Because there’s more to menswear than denim and jersey.

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Fashion 
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There’s always been certainties in the world of fashion, one such certainty being that menswear is less adventurous than womenswear. In fact, it’s often seen as downright boring in comparison. And nowhere is that conservatism more apparent than in the world of menswear fabrication.

Aside from the usual fabrics – denim, jersey, etc – designers are increasingly bucking this perception of dull fabrics, playing around with materials that are rarely used for a variety of reasons – be it costs, a so-called feminine association, or just using something was once seen as overly left-field.

We spoke to three designers, Rav Matharu from clothsurgeon, Chris Raeburn and Matthew Miller, about how they’re using different fabrications, whether men in 2016 are ready for new fabrications and the last time a new fabric usage has gone wrong.

clothsurgeon

clothsurgeon Matthew Miller Chris Raeburn Fall/Winter 2016 Imagery

Do you feel like the longer you design the more you desire to play around with different fabrics?
Yes. I am interested in so many eras of fashion from luxury high end, to 50s sportswear fleece. The use of fabric, for me, is really the difference in defining a new product.

Are men more open than people assume about different, maybe slightly weird fabrics?
The modern man certainly is, we have many clients who really understand fabrics, and know exactly what they want, while some like to be educated and directed into what I think suits their persona. One man’s ‘weird’ fabric could be another man’s most ‘prized’ fabric.

When was the last time you used a different fabric that didn’t quite work?
I feel I have a good eye for fabric use – sometimes prints don’t come out as I wish or the fabric does not sit or form as well as I imagined but, overall it usually works very well. We have had a few strange colour combinations that I feel really did not work!

clothsurgeon Matthew Miller Chris Raeburn Fall/Winter 2016 Imagery

Why did this fabric interest you?
I wanted to elevate the classic bomber jacket through fit, contemporary details and also luxury fabric use. The goat suede is a soft, elegant, beautifully textured material.

Do people usually choose unusual fabrics when it comes to bespoke orders?
Yes, they can do, but that’s the beauty of what we do, a customer has the freedom to create whatever they wish. I recently made a sharp tailored sport blazer from vintage Japanese boro, amazingly distressed and layers of amazing hand-repaired patchwork. It came out incredible! Sometimes I just want to keep the bespoke pieces for myself!

I recently made a sharp tailored sport blazer from vintage Japanese boro, amazingly distressed and layers of amazing hand-repaired patchwork. It came out incredible!

What’s the most expensive fabric you’ve used on a bespoke order?
I am currently working on a full Croc Skin bomber. Hermes charge £90k for a tee, so it is without a doubt the most expensive piece I have worked on, so I better be careful when constructing that one! Also, a luxurious Scabal Chinchilla & Cashmere Fabric Coat which, to date, is the most expensive cloth I have worked with.

Chris Raeburn

clothsurgeon Matthew Miller Chris Raeburn Fall/Winter 2016 Imagery

Do you feel like the longer you design the more you desire to play around with different fabrics?
Absolutely. I made my first Remade piece whilst at university in 2001; when I went to the Royal College I was able to really finesse the process but it’s always been fabric and a sort of archaeology that has helped to lead the design process so finding new (old) fabrics is always a priority. What’s been so inspiring is that as the company has grown I’ve had more opportunity to travel, research in more depth and find original garments and fabrics from around the world.

Are men more open than people assume about different, maybe slightly weird fabrics?
We’ve always found that our Remade products have resonated well with our menswear customers where the provenance of the fabrics, quality of the item and manufacturing process is really important but we’ve also had a lot of success in womenswear; particularly with lighter fabrics like parachute and original silk maps.

clothsurgeon Matthew Miller Chris Raeburn Fall/Winter 2016 Imagery

Why did this fabric interest you?
Military and utility clothing has long been a fascination for me personally and I’m always looking for authentic garments, fabrics and objects of interest – the fabric in our Remade Schneetarn anorak was originally a German snow camouflage poncho; the dappled drab green flecks were originally designed for camouflage in Winter pine forests. We deconstructed the original ponchos and then re-worked them into the anorak you see here – we make each piece of our Remade In England range in our studio in East London and we only ever make a maximum of fifty pieces; each one is entirely unique and individually numbered.

When was the last time you used a different fabric that didn’t quite work?
Good question – in fact I’d say almost every season we experiment with at least one fabric which doesn’t work; the nature of what we do means we’re always trialling fabrics from around the world and it’s important that the final items we make are right – we try to do fairly thorough testing but, of course, things don’t always work out…

Matthew Miller

clothsurgeon Matthew Miller Chris Raeburn Fall/Winter 2016 Imagery

Do you feel like the longer you design the more you desire to play around with different fabrics?
I do not design without my seasonal fabrics in front of me, I can’t. You have to know and be able to touch the fabrics to fully understand what can be achieved in terms of structure silhouette, cut and detail. The more seasons I get under my belt, the more experimental I get with composition and structure at a fibre level. I actually think we are in the midst of a materials revolution in the fashion industry at the moment. Man-made fibres are now just as luxury as natural materials.

Are men more open than people assume about different, maybe slightly weird fabrics?
I think you have a demographic of pioneers who will be open to new innovative fabrics and this happens much much more in sportswear. But, if I’m perfectly honest, men are quite conservative in general and the innovation takes time to trickle down! But it is possible for sure!

clothsurgeon Matthew Miller Chris Raeburn Fall/Winter 2016 Imagery

Why did this fabric interest you?
I chose this particular fabric because I saw it as a completely new and modern way of wearing velvet. Traditionally velvet is quite antiquated, and no one has really come up with a completely new way of using velvet and its manufacturing techniques. Velvet is made on a very narrow loom and produced by creating what is known as a pile between two beds. Usually the pile is cut in half and you are left with two layers of velvet – I chose to not cut the velvet, leaving a membrane in-between the two beds. This structure takes up twice the materials but [the end result] looks modern and almost sports like.

I actually think we are in the midst of a materials revolution in the fashion industry at the moment. Man-made fibres are now just as luxury as natural materials.

When was the last time you used a different fabric that didn’t quite work?
I usually edit out one fabric every season, if I’m honest. A collection is so much stronger when edited and stripped back to have a very direct and concise image/message.

Have you had any odd orders involving specific fabrics?
No. Not so far. But I will probably will now when this goes live.

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