Following the NEWGEN womenswear announcement and his massively popular menswear show, i-D online caught up with the very tall, very charming Christopher Raeburn to chat about cycling, owls and London life.
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Christopher Raeburn set up his label in 2008 and in four short years has become widely respected as the go-to guy for stylishly durable outerwear for men and women. He is widely known for his support of the ethical production of fashion, but he considers this a natural element of design, rather than a feature. With his commercial success and success within the British Fashion Council and NEWGEN, it’s clear this is just the beginning of a wonderful career for Raeburn.
What was the starting point for your SS13 mens collection? We formed the collection around the single word “Deploy”. I like the energy and connotations of the word; it linked in an obvious way to our ongoing exploration using military parachutes and later, to the research and use of owls in the film.
As such a strong advocator of ethical fashion, how difficult is this to implement in your collections? We’re not tied to ethical fashion; I just think it makes good sense to consider the provenience of fabrics and the place of production. In fact, as the label has developed we’ve learnt to turn possible difficulties to our advantage; an example of this is with our Remade range – all the garments are limited to 50 pieces and individually numbered.
How do you think we can encourage other designers to do the same? Personally I think it’s already happening; university courses now specifically teach sustainable modules or entire degrees – a new generation of designers are leaving education and starting their careers each year with sustainability in mind.
Did you picture a certain kind of man creating the collection? It’s been interesting really finding our man as the label has grown and this season it’s been inspiring to work with stylist Elgar Johnson. When we were doing the casting for the show the brief was “strong but not aggressive” and I think this works really well. We’ve realized that the customer who buys our product in Liberty or Harvey Nichols of course is varied but I hope they’re all looking for something design led, innovative and that they genuinely won’t find in many places worldwide.
Can you tell us about your focus on animals each season and why you chose the owl for SS13? We make a different animal each season from the off-cuts at the studio, so far we’ve developed the Mutt, Hare, Fox, Squirrel and Badger – this season I thought a winged addition would make sense. We always err towards crafty, British animals. It’s interesting because the new season’s animal gets as much attention as the collection these days.
How do you relax? Anything outdoors – I love cycling and I’ve recently taken to running quite a lot; I’m lucky that the trip between my flat and studio is all along the canals and so it gives me a good opportunity to get out and about.
What are you working on next? I’m proud of my ongoing relationship with Victorinox (I now have creative input on the main collection) and then of course it’s womenswear in September and I’m looking forward to the launch of Moncler|R (the collection I designed for Moncler); all in all it’s a busy time but I’m enjoying it.