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Christopher Shannon recently returned to the runway following a one-season hiatus from London Collections: Men. During his time off, Shannon collaborated with the likes of Linder Sterling and also envisioned a new diffusion line — North Quarter. The line is a reflection of Shannon’s affinity for technical sportswear, as the designer says, “[It is] inspired by my catwalk collection, taking influences, design markers and key silhouettes from my mainline and repackaging them for a detail-obsessed male customer brought up on a diet of premium technical sportswear brands. North Quarter gives me the opportunity to speak directly with the brand led British males who have inspired me creatively since the outset of my career.” Shannon speaks with i-D on his new diffusion line, check out an excerpt below and read the full interview here.
What was the catalyst for North Quarter? How long has it been in your mind? Why now?
I think I’ve begun to understand my brand in a different way over the last year or so. It’s easy to just think of yourself as a London menswear brand focused around a catwalk show, but actually I love doing projects outside of that just as much – there’s something really rewarding about working in the wider world outside of ‘fashion’. I found the right technical team and facilities to actually develop a premium performance-inspired product which is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time.
What are the greatest similarities and differences between North Quarter and your eponymous main line? For you, how does it join the dots between catwalk creativity and aspirational quality-led menswear?
I think for me it’s a focus on fit and subverting the technical facilities a bit, using them in different ways. Sometimes it’s frustrating with mainline as I want to do cleaner technical product, but our mainline is a boutique fashion product so it doesn’t always sit well.
When we last spoke, you mentioned that you missed design. How will North Quarter help you refocus?
North Quarter is a product focus which is quite intense, whereas mainline is much more about mood, and is more much personal. NQ is more about product to wear day-to-day, that’s really practical and high-spec but doesn’t feel too straightforward. With NQ we really obsess over minutiae, the trims and fabrications, whereas with mainline sometimes you just want a flavour of something quite raw and unfinished. I like that I have a brand that allows me to do both, then also go off and work on a ballet or an editorial – I think I’m really fortunate in that respect.
How has your mainline archive influenced the debut offering? Were there particular collections, items or themes that you were drawn to?
We went through the archive and found shapes that maybe we made quite crudely at the time and without the proper machinery, and there are a lot of those pieces. As there isn’t a narrative as such to NQ, we just work garment by garment. It’s great to go back and do those pieces justice and give them another chance.