Tall and skinny, Christopher Raeburn is easy to spot backstage. His blond hair shines like a beacon above the catwalk crew, even most models. He’s wearing a white shirt with two chest pockets made out of the standout floral print from his Spring/Summer 2015 collection
, shown recently during the first day of London Collections: Men. His characteristic “ReMade” collection, recycling army fabrics and military patterns from across the globe might have been an unorthodox catwalk presence when he started showing menswear in 2012, but today he’s not only an award-winning designer and creative director at Victorinox, but also a LC:M staple collaborating with former i-D
fashion editor and current Man About Town
fashion director, Elgar Johnson.
Raeburn comes from a school of sartorial thought that, until a few years ago, at least in London, was defined by Jeff Griffin and Hardy Blechman, the founder of maharishi. The fundamental idea has always been to explore and use military camouflage and high-tech army fabrics (Griffin) or re-appropriate functional military clothes and camouflage patterns into a contemporary and peaceful wardrobe (maharishi). Camouflage might come and go as far as trends are concerned but designers use the army and military as reference points and a source of inspiration every season – always have, always will. Due to the utilitarian elements of a uniform, anyone out to create a functional garment automatically looks towards the army for help.
Christopher Raeburn, of course, does more than that. Interested in finding a civilian use for retired fabrics, there’s not only an element of sustainability in his work, but also literal references to military gear. For Spring/Summer 2015, Raeburn expanded on that philosophy, looking towards the Desert Boneyard in Arizona, where used-up airplanes are shipped to be recycled, for specific influences.
Sure, there will always be orange flashes, amongst a green background, and bits of parachute fabric, which was Raeburn’s starting point when setting up the label, but for the “Meridian” collection, he also added what felt like a bigger dose of “fashion.” Except for the fairly commercial printed sweatshirts and tees, Raeburn worked hard on layering his pieces to show the full sartorial capacity of his collection through his use of clear plastic coats, helicopter-printed suits and mesh tops.
Traditionally, the Raeburn label has been an outerwear brand; the tops and bottoms designed in the shadow of awesome coats and jackets. But for Spring/Summer 2015, equal attention seems to have been dedicated to trousers and shorts as the anoraks and parkas. It added to the idea of a Raeburn universe. The final pieces, made out of recycled MIG flight suits, almost evoked a sense of utilitarian haute couture. There was something beautiful in the intricate lacing of the coats and backpacks.
Great show, Christopher. It was inspired by the Desert Boneyard in Arizona – did you go there?
No, never been. But we’ve obviously done a great deal of research and what’s really cool is that at any one time they have up to 4,000 jets being stored there – and then because of our remake concept there’s quite a nice synergy because they don’t just destroy these things, their either reused for their parts or they store them and then completely put them back into service.
So, it makes sense with the brand as well. There was quite a few literal references with the helmet prints…
We pushed some other heat press techniques you’ll see with the embroidered patches and the leather. The square prints were a take down from some of the planes that we researched – the way they were being deconstructed, different paneling and things. But, again, hopefully what we’re doing is something very modern, something very new.
Between some of the floral prints and the clear plastic jackets it felt more “fashion” than previous seasons, would you agree?
Yes, it did. We worked hard with Elgar Johnson to make sure we’re always pushing things forward and doing new things each time.
Where did you find those MIG fighter jet suits? They were amazing…
I bought two to begin with, then we were able to source them and import them and deconstruct them. I can’t say where I got them though…Secret sources!
What’s the key piece? Which one summarizes the collection?
I’m really pleased with the block sweat jumpers, I absolutely love them. Quite often, as you know, doing the simplest things properly can be the most difficult, so I’d like to think what we’ve done is get the right sort of alchemy in the collection – simplistic versus conceptualist.
The MIG suit must have been one of the most complicated ones. How long does it take to make one of those?
Around 3-4 days. But it’s something I’m very proud of that the studio can actually do those things, all of the garments you see here today were made in our own studio – that’s super rare and so it’s really important that we actually do push and do those things.