Mapping out the future of Menswear

Already seen on style icons Brooklyn Beckham and Cara Delevingne, Blood Brother’s AW17 collection uses colour, printing and embroidery to reminisce and revel in London’s nostalgia over the years, featuring the now infamous, Mr Cuddles.

The interview did not start well. I walked into the wrong building, which was not exactly welcoming, and ended up in a solicitor’s office asking for directions. But, once I stepped inside Osborn House, not far from Brick Lane in Shoreditch, I was intrigued with what Blood Brother had to offer with their designs.

The room was minimalistic and monochromatic, emboldening flashes of vibrant yellow, pink and orange to take centre stage at the Blood Brother showroom. I was immediately drawn to the model wearing a beautiful silver shirt, and nearby hung an amazing orange shearling jacket and a pink, navy blue and grey striped woolen jumper. It didn’t even matter that this was menswear – the more I leafed through the rails, the more items I wanted. I then managed to speak to half of Blood Brother, James Waller, who told me all about the collection and brand.

What was your main inspiration for this collection?

Pre-collection is inspired by Thames TV and nostalgia, as me and Nick grew up together watching TV, and the clothes feature screen captures of the programmes we used to watch. And then the main collection was about the journey through London, inspired by the Thames and maps. We used Google map drops to illustrate that. More inspiration came from a teddy that got lost by the Thames, called Mr Cuddles – he features a lot.

Some pieces from the Thames TV inspired pre-collection.

Some pieces from the Thames TV inspired pre-collection.

Did you name him Mr Cuddles or did you find out that he was actually called Mr Cuddles?
Maybe that is Nick’s weird childhood teddy name or…I don’t know. He read this famous book about teddy bears and how each teddy bear got lost. I think Mr Cuddles was his favourite teddy in the book…god knows what he reads.

Ok, so, on a more general scale – what would you say inspires your collections the most? Would it be art, music, architecture?

Nick really admires architecture and how cities transform because of it. I think it’s about the history and transition of a city and how the maps change over years to reflect and record that. So, in the collection, some pieces include futuristic Google pin drops, but this bomber jacket has proper authentic map illustrations and artist impressions of how London used to be. Also, how rivers flow through cities and the importance that rivers bring to metropolitan places.

Google pin drop and artist impressions illustrate bomber jackets and hoodies

Google pin drop and artist impressions illustrate bomber jackets and hoodies.

Yeah, and how it like, defines a location.

Exactly. If you think about every major city, there’s a river. It represents trade and industry, and we tried to mirror this in the collection. Our bags were inspired by chimney sweepers. The colour of the gloves imitates river water. There’s definitely a strong thread of inspiration in the collection, attaching everything together.

So, menswear has obviously been around for a very long time, but, why do you think it is having such a big moment now?
London has a lot of diversity and designers who haven’t gone down the traditional route. They come out of different pockets, so like, universities and NewGen. You don’t have to have come straight out from the fashion industry or art school to become a designer anymore, because there’s so much diversity across the board. Streetwear-inspired clothing is huge now, which is so much more accessible. It’s not classic couture – it’s street, it’s bedroom setups. Why it’s having a moment? Men are just shopping a lot better. You can sell a lot more fashion to men than you could before.

You blend sportswear, streetwear and tailored pieces so much. Why do you think this balance is so important for the modern man?

It’s nice for guys to be able to just go to a café and feel relaxed in joggers, but dress it up a bit with a smart jacket. It reflects me and Nick. I wear overcoats with joggers and trainers, whereas Nick is a bit more classic. He likes a good shirt. It’s also getting full use of your wardrobe in one outfit, too.

So, if you had to pick between an entire wardrobe of leisurewear or of tailored pieces, you’d pick leisurewear then?
Definitely. I’m just more chilled! I definitely prefer that look and it’s just like, guys want to feel comfy I suppose, but quite dapper at the same time. That’s why we’ve up-specked a lot of the tracksuits – there’s velour, there’s satin. We’ve tried to bring a smarter element to that casualwear. Also, men travel a lot nowadays. Our customers from the Middle East particularly want stuff that’s quite luxe, but comfortable for a long-haul flight.

On the far left of the rail hangs a three piece sports-luxe suit with trousers, t-shirt and zip-up bomber, all in navy corduroy.

On the far left of the rail hangs a three piece sports-luxe suit with trousers, t-shirt and zip-up bomber, all in navy corduroy.

Do you ever think about branching out into womenswear?

Yes, I’ve seen a rail of womenswear in the design studio, which I don’t really know much about! We’ve been asked for it loads though. One of our stockists is Selfridge’s and they are really pushing us for it. Women have been wearing our clothes, I think Cara Delevingne was the first girl to wear our stuff which was wicked. But, I haven’t actually told anyone this before…maybe I should shut up!

That is so exciting though!
It is! But, we haven’t actually done it yet. Just that – there is something happening.

So, who would your dream collaboration be with?

That’s a really good question. A big one for Nick would definitely be Saville Row, the whole historic and authentic process of it all. For me, it has to be a big sportswear company like Adidas or Nike. I really want to design some trainers!

That is obviously what comes across so well with your brand though, because you have that wonderful balance of sportswear and tailored pieces. Is there anyone in particular you’d love to see wearing your designs?

Again with the nostalgia – I love Beckham. When Nick and I used to play football together, Beckham was just this absolute pomp. He created such a scene in menswear when Nick and I were working in designer boutiques. Amazingly, we’ve had Brooklyn Beckham wear some stuff. But, it would be unreal if his dad rocked up in a Blood Brother tracksuit or shearling jacket!

Definitely! He is like, the ultimate man isn’t he?

Oh definitely, he started the whole metrosexual man thing, especially for me! Like, taking care of your skin and going out, dressing well – whether it’s a sarong or whatever else he was rocking. He would certainly be the Blood Brother pin-up.

Classic desert island question – what two items from this collection would you take?

I feel like these are the kind of questions you answer at 3am when you’re drunk! But the yellow hoodie for sure – you’re definitely getting rescued if you’re wearing that. And I’d take the shearling because it’s durable and protective. Hang on, I’d probably sweat to death in shearling.

Good point. You might need some trousers?
The trousers with the zips running up the sides because then I can roll them up into shorts.

The life saving shearling is also reversible - a real standout piece in the collection.

The life saving shearling is also reversible – a real standout piece in the collection.

Now, if you could create clothes for a TV series, what would you pick?

Hmmm…that’s tough! But, The Sopranos – I think some clothes for Italian mob bosses would be a fun collection to make! And all this stretchy material would fit Fat Tony as well.

You’re in luck James - seems Fat Tony is already a fan of a velour tracksuit.

You’re in luck James – seems Fat Tony is already a fan of a velour tracksuit.

Final question – describe the brand in three words.

Sports luxe.

Is that two words or are we hyphenating it?

Let’s hyphenate it. Sports-luxe, of-the-moment, British.

I had such a fun time interviewing James, and if a womenswear collection goes ahead and is equally as innovative, eclectic, but totally wearable as this collection – I can’t wait to see the results.

What do you think about the Blood Brother AW17 collection?

Text: Natalie Zannikos

Images: Natalie Zannikos, Devante Vaughan

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Irina Gorskaia

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