London-based Stefan Cooke is abandoning the rules of luxury men’s fashion in favor of an approach to textiles with unusual fabric manipulations, optical illusions and clever construction.
The clothes look familiar, but close inspection reveals subverted details: Argyle-print crew-neck knits are cropped; jeans are sewn together from elastic bands and printed with an image of denim; the seam has angular cuts, to give the impression of a narrow waist. The mundane turns into something wonderful.
Launched by the eponymous Cooke and his partner, Jake Burt, in 2018, the two rose to prominence for their affinity for dead animals and synthetic-touch fabrics. Their job as designers, they said, is to uplift them. Tissue manipulation is the lifeblood of the brand, which Burt said the financial situation is a result of the situation.
We had no money, nothing between us. We had to change the value of the things that we had, so we just had to find the cheapest thing and find a way to make it interesting, desirable and fashionable, he said of Zoom in February since their visit. London studio.
In 2019, they made headlines for their 400 paper bags printed with vintage handbags. The bags were made from natural biodegradable fibers which gave them a paper-like feel. Cooke said the project came about because they couldn’t afford to work with a leather specialist.
This ingenuity continued through the first few seasons, as the pair established themselves in an increasingly crowded pool of emerging talent. Early supporters included Dover Street Market and Matchesfashion.com allowed them to explore more luxurious fabrics while continuing to work on permutations of less expensive things.
Cooke said experimentation is the essence of everything we do. Cooke, who has studied menswear and textiles, begins with a trial and error approach that culminates in creating clothes with unexpected fabrics. Some of these permutations will make the runway. Burt, whose background is in womenswear , is responsible for the classic construction of clothing.
The silhouette is a defining characteristic of men’s fashion, but textiles allow us to rewrite the rules of tradition. It’s nice to work with things that no one else might be looking at and change them in a way that creates something new so that they still become a luxury item at the end of the day. The brand recently began working with an Italian woolen mill to produce coats, imbuing the brand’s personality in traditional craftsmanship by choosing an ersatz-looking fabric or implementing their singular use of color tinged with nostalgia. .
It’s nice that people can go to the stores now and that there is an amazing coat rather than I have to find a crazy way to do it, Cooke said.
The argument for your collection has to be so compelling for men to buy it. It should stay classic in almost everything except the one thing you change, and even it should be done effortlessly, Burt said.
It’s so exciting to see a brand that is avoiding the hype to focus on innovation to produce a completely unique take on men’s fashion, said Damien Paul, Head of Men’s Fashion at Matchesfashion.com. The online retailer said the Fall / Winter 2020 duo collection is working phenomenally, with knitwear being the highlight.
Another hallmark of the brand is the narrow silhouette which stands in stark contrast to most of the relaxed proportions that fashion is currently inundated with. They are influenced growing up with skinny jeans from Topman and Primark, but also from musicians they loved, a period of musical iconography that coincided with the genesis of skinny tailoring.
The couple know how prohibitive styling can be. Burt admits he’s not wearing the brand’s slim fit. However, last season they added relaxed cotton pants with an elasticated waist, indicating their desire to explore other avenues to encompass more men.
Cooke, 30, met Burt, 31, in London at a party. Soon after, they became boyfriends. The couple studied at the famous Central Saint Martins. Shortly after Cooke launched the label, he teamed up with Burt to launch his eponymous label. In less than two years, they have been listed as finalists for the LVMH Prize, an award that funds and supports emerging talents. Last year, Gucci invited them to participate in GucciFEST, their week-long project that incorporated a coterie of young talent.
Over time, accessories have become a boon for the brand. However, they’re not just a means to an end, although the launch of the bag straps has become a key selling point for the brand, especially during the pandemic that has plunged the futures of many young designers. in the depths of uncertainty.
We haven’t made these props to fit into certain categories to sell them if we don’t want to do something we won’t do, Cooke said.
For both of them, it was essential to create something substantial taking into account that they were once teenagers who wanted to enter the fashion industry and that accessories were the most accessible channel for that. It’s important to buy something that has the full brand within it, Cooke said.
Cooke and Burt are currently working on their Fall / Winter 2021 collection. Expect serious silhouettes alongside playful accessories. Ordinarily, the collection would have been shown at London Fashion Week Mens in January. In light of the pandemic, they’re operating on a less strict schedule, leaving more time for creativity and design.
Cooke said: “At the end of the day, it’s about creating a great garment. We think there’s no point in it not being able to be pulled apart in real life.
Stefan Cooke is available at Matchesfashion.com
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