Aitor Throup launched G-Star RAW’s Raw Research II collection this week during Paris Fashion Week. It was only the second time G-Star had presented, but with Executive Creative Director Throup’s guidance, the brand impressed once again.
G-Star’s Raw Research collections are product prototypes thought up in the brand’s Raw Research Lab, an experimental space exploring creativity and curiosity. Following his appointment as Executive Creative Director last year, Throup has headed up the lab and helped G-Star as it continues to search for innovative new denim ideas.
This most recent collection’s highlight is a new 3D denim concept that challenges denim design conventions: the ‘Motac’ series. G-Star developed ‘Motac’ after studying the human body in motion, an approach that some will recognize as a signature of Throup.
Before the presentation, we got the chance to sit down with Aitor Throup to discuss his role as Executive Creative Director, Raw Research II, working with Pharrell and more. Check it out below and peep the Paris Fashion Week presentation shots.
Aitor tell us what you do as G-Star’s Executive Creative Director?
On a practical level, I’m responsible for driving the company’s creative output. What I’m most interested in is capturing the essence of the brand and helping different departments communicate that with the world. So I drive the product, but I’m also directly involved with marketing.
Why is G-Star the right brand for you at this stage in your career?
I got here really organically. I’ve been working with G-Star as a creative consultant for about three years, and we’ve come to know and trust each other. I first decided to start working with G-Star because I honestly believe in the brand. We’re both product driven and we’re both interested in exploring new possibilities when it comes to creating and presenting clothing.
Last year you said that you’d been unhappy as an artist and trapped by your work but that you were finally moving forward. How does G-Star continue to help you feel free as an artist?
G-Star was pivotal in me regaining clarity as an artist. The brand’s ability to challenge product conventions inspired me to continue working on my own designs and presentations. Working with them gave me more opportunities to express my artistic sensibilities which gave me a sense of hope. It helped me to see that even if you become commercially successful and are put under commercial pressures, you can maintain your artistic integrity and transfer it into big brand projects.
On a practical level, they’ve supported me as an artist on my personal projects, helping to make my presentations possible.
Do you think this nurturing nature is unique to G-Star?
I try to do things for the right reasons and so I’ve only ever worked with people or brands where a mutual respect exists. If I sensed that wasn’t the case I just wouldn’t be able to do it; I’ve never experienced a relationship where the other party was purely interested in extracting something from me.
Your garment design and construction is typically very anatomical, how have you found working with G-Star’s denim?
If you simplify garment design you’re primarily working with the human body and fabric; the challenge as a creator is to transform that fabric into three-dimensional objects that work and move with the body. When discussing the possibilities of raw denim we need to understand the denim and the human body, and then consider a series of problems. How heavily does it fold and stack? How does it restrict movement? How rigid is it? As a designer, I embrace problems; my job is to find solutions. Without problems, I’m out of the job. Any classic piece of clothing you can think of is essentially someone’s solution to a problem.
Talk us through the Motac series and how it is exemplary of G-Star’s vision?
Motac is precisely engineered and constructed to allow the body to move freely in a garment made primarily from a very rigid fabric. Jeans are such an archetypal product, we all understand and expect them to be a certain way. This is partly why we value them, but G-Star and, in particular Motac make you rethink what you thought jeans could be.
Raw Research is “focused on experimenting with product design by clashing tradition and innovation,” it’s clear how you bring innovation but how does tradition influence your work?
If we understand the past, what came before and what led us to this point, as designers and artists we empower ourselves with knowledge that makes it inherently easier to connect with people. You learn from the past and use it to inform what’s next. If you’re not referring to tradition then things can quickly become too abstract and self-absorbed, you lose interest in a conversation and instead focus on an artistic monolog.
The Raw Research collections are “blueprints” for G-Star’s main collections, how do you decide which concepts make it to the main collection?
Raw Research started as a way of experimenting without commercial restrictions. It’s a place to think freely about what can be achieved in product design and discover new things. However, to answer your question, all of it does. It might appear in different versions or variations, but if a garment doesn’t make it into the main collection then it wouldn’t be part of Raw Research, they’re a resource for our design team to work with when creating the general collection.
Your own body of work has been very conceptual and even manifested as performance when you showed last June at London Collections: Men. Do you have the opportunity to bring these more grandiose creative ideas to G-Star?
Yeah absolutely and even more so as we continue working together. G-Star has always pushed product and presentation boundaries which are things I’m interested in. Together we try to challenge how a product is presented while aligning it with the brand’s identity.
I’m also increasingly interested in respecting the audience by challenging them and creating something that isn’t instantly understandable. I want to create experiences which have the power to stop you in your tracks and make you look at something that’s real and physical. It’s crucial that people engage with and experience the product.
Last year G-Star announced Pharrell as Head of Imagination, have you worked together? Tell us about working with him.
We’ve worked together a lot, and even when I was working as a consultant, we worked together on “RAW for the Oceans.” More recently we’ve worked together on an upcoming project around the G-Star Elwood.
We have a shared vision and similar focus on product and design. He’s also a very inspiring person, and I appreciate his creativity. Most importantly we share a commitment to redefining what things are, a commitment to newness and being true to oneself.
G-Star is approaching its 30th birthday but is still a relatively young brand, when people look back in another 20 years what do you want them to say about G-Star?
I would hope that people say we redefined denim and that we took a pivotal stance on product design, influenced its evolution and challenged traditional approaches. We dared to rethink what had been standard and offered new solutions.
Do you feel under pressure considering the risks that requires?
I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning if I wasn’t going to run into risks; I hate the idea of being comfortable. Comfort and confidence in your abilities are your worst enemies; once you master something, you should try to unlearn it. We’re not in a good place if we don’t feel at least a little uncomfortable in what we’re doing.