Two times winner of the British Menswear Designer Award in 2016 and 2017, Craig Green is an established name in the menswear fashion scene. In Craig’s world, workwear retains its masculine forms and functions with an added touch of romantic prints, and protective straps discreetly shout out his brand identity. His clothes represent a new way of wearing clothes as a uniform. We are fond of his new inspirations because there’s something different but yet everything retains its originality. We speak to Craig busying away with production of his latest collection that just showed on catwalk, getting ready to go into stores worldwide.
Q: What were your hero pieces from the AW17 collection on the catwalk?
I did love the carpet looks and the technique that was used in them with the symbolism of masculinity and belonging. I also love the use of piled embroidery technique on a massive scale like a carpet. The energy of those pieces is what I love, from the techniques to how they look like at the end.
A: Tell us more about the techniques of it and did you make them in the studio?
No they were made in the same factory that does our hand block, but it all started from the letter badge on a bomber jacket and the patterns are taken from pub carpets and also Turkish and Portuguese tiled houses. It was the idea of taking something that isn’t that beautiful and trying to romanticize it in a strange way.
Q: The aesthetics of your brand is very unique. Do you consider consistency when designing a new collection as much as trying to evolve your brand?
Consistency is key to any brand. I couldn’t name one brand that isn’t a consistent vision from season to season. It’s not conscious maybe but we start really far away from what we were working on the season before but naturally it always goes back into a similar energy. And I see it as a continuous story. Even though we do develop and change, I think consistency is important, especially when it’s our aesthetic.
Q: How would you describe the core of your collection?
A: We’ve just developed a new part of the business which could be referred to as the ‘permanent collection’. It’s built on the idea of how men dress in relation to our aesthetic so what we wear and what people who buy the brand wear. Our ultimate aim is to make our Craig Green workwear jacket a wardrobe staple – so every man would have one, like the Burberry trench coat. So we are developing it with Italian developers and on the other hand, we are working on making the shows more extreme and escapist.
Q: How do you start creating a collection each season?
A: It is usually a reaction to what we’ve done for the last season and think about what we would like to see in the next one – simple as that. And we would start the discussion with a mood or energy in mind, then move on to creating a colour board for our catwalk even before creating the garmets. It is like working backwards.
Q: There’s always a sense of 3D structure or form in your collection, something tangible and suggests movements. Is that an important element to you as a brand?
A: My graduation collection was focused on 3D shapes and the clothing was secondary. It was all about the fusion of shapes and structure, which stayed with the brand from the beginning.
Q: Would you say that your clothes combine utility and forms in a way that they’re designed to create different shapes?
A: From the beginning it was the idea of the relationship between the work wear and religious wear. One is for a physical function and one is for a spiritual function. So, it was that idea of things being functional or things looking like they’re functional but they actually don’t do anything. So some of the belts and straps, they’re not actually doing anything and some of them can change the shapes of the garment. There’s something beautiful in that idea of old technology of strapping.
Q: How would you incorporate branding into your collection if you were to do something different, like typography?
A: The signature of our branding is strings and ties – there’s even a string detailing on a simple shirt. It is very minimal but almost like a piece of jewelry.
Q: How do you add the sense of newness in your collections?
A: They’re all a reaction to the season before. So if we go back to AW14 collection which is the hand painted massive sheets that was all about the obsessive overly ornate, romantic and overly worked energy. And then in reaction to that we did SS15 which is all the blue and the flags, people called it the crying show with no shoes, plain colour and very minimal. And then the season after that was the AW15, the one with the hole jumper so that was a reaction to the season before being too arty and we wanted to prove that we can do menswear so it was all about outerwear, military, flags, and masculinity and showing that we could be a menswear brand.
Q: They are like different elements in your narrative, your story?
A: They come from the things that we talk in the studio and all comes together in the end. We point out what we like, what’s interesting at the moment and then we make it into clothes. The permanent collection allows us to have more freedom so we don’t have to stress over not having made 3 long coats for example.
Q: Tell us more about the SS17 collection, which is available in stores now.
A: It started with the idea of flags and symbols, and specifically the idea of symbols as belonging. So we were inspired by the British scouts, which identifies the part of the country one comes from by the colour and pattern of their scarf. The inverted idea of chaos and control is portrayed by the contrast of saturated and desaturated colours, which is achieved by bleaching the fabric. Also, the hand blocking technique resembles patchwork blankets that you’d make with your family.
Q: It was a nice surprise to see pinstripe fabric, a rather unusual kind to see in your collection? The fabric moved in this beautiful way, was that intentional?
A: The opening is a pinstripe fabric designed in the same all uniform shape. It’s the level we never touched upon before. We turned the working man uniform aesthetic into a flag man and wanted to create a easy shape for man with the pinstripe fabric.
Q: Tell us about what excites you from the fashion scene right now.
A: London is still exciting and there’s a change of energy definitely. I like the works of Martine Rose, she’s a good friend of mine and she’s doing pretty amazing things.
Q: You’ve won the British Menswear Designer Award 2016, how did it feel?
A: Shocking! I had absolutely no idea. I left my phone on the table when I went back stage so I couldn’t even call anyone for half an hour. I was wearing a pair of converse and a tee shirt, I was really not expecting to go up on stage. It’s really amazing. I was equally shocked when we were awarded the GQ Fund. They are an amazing institution and to have a nod from them is very important, especially in menswear. We make smashed up suits and big embroidered carpet people. It’s massive in our business to have a nod from these institutions. LFWM is 5 years old, I graduated 2 months before the first collection what was then called London Collections Men. It was for SS13, my first Fashion East installation.
Q: Fashion today represents the young energy and the creativity and something that brings people together. I think you’ve allowed people to extend into what normally they would be conventionally comfortable wearing. Tell me about your hero. Who is your mentor, someone you look up to and why?
A: Professor Louise Wilson would be my number one. Everything from where I am to her because she believed in me. I’m from north London, I didn’t know anything about fashion, I didn’t dress as a fashion person, I didn’t act as a fashion person. Not until I met her and got in the MA course did things started to happen. She was a massive support and I owe her a lot. She showed me that there’s no rules, which is good. For someone like her to be in the industry for so long and still see something in someone that doesn’t fit in. She had this energy to question everything and nothing was ever done or finished in her views. “Keep going” was her strongest quote for me.
Q: Tell us about your life in London, what do you enjoy outside of work?
A: I live in Northwest, almost on the edge of London, it’s quite green. We travel into East London everyday. It’s small and green so you get to escape for a few days. My parents had lots of pets so I grew up with then but I don’t have any at the moment. But I live a few doors down from my mum’s house and all my friends from the area still live around there it’s nice – it’s like I have two lives in London so I can escape one for the other.
Q: What do you do to completely switch off and recuperate?
A: I go to the cinema on my own a lot. I go once or twice a week on my own. I recently saw the ‘Moon Light’, that’s really good and ‘La la Land’ is next on my list. I feel it’s the only time you can concentrate in life, turn off your phone, and you’re in a dark room and you focus on that one thing, it’s a good therapeutic experience.
Q: Any travel plans?
A: We’re going skiing in March for a whole week. It’s the first time in 10 years that I’m going. I used to spend an entire season skiing when I was 18. I loved the snow. I love the cold weather despite the sun being so strong. Skiing was the best holiday I remember so I’m quite excited.
Q: When are you the happiest?
A: At work.
Q: What are you most excited for at the moment?
A: How the world is changing rapidly, whether positive or negative.
Q: What’s your favourite shop & restaurant in London?
A: Dover Street Market & Jun Ming Xuan.
Q: What’s your favourite perfume at the moment?
Q: What’s on your playlist?
A: Kate Bush.
Q: What is elegant to you?
A: I think people are the most elegant when they’re most comfortable. Comfort is elegant.
Q: What’s your most treasured hour during the day?
A: The first hour of work, because it’s all exciting and fresh.
Q: What’s your most valued asset at the moment?
Q: What’s the most valued object in your wardrobe?
A: My Craig Green Workwear Jacket, of course. It’s black. I wear it everyday!
Author/ Inhae Yeo
Photos/ Craig Green, Jack Davison
This article has been translated into English from Korean. This article was originally written and featured in the SS17 Issue of Boon the Shop Magazine. The Korean version of the article is available on our website and may be found here.