Jonathan Anderson on the new Loewe collection and the future of fashion
The usual fashion calendar has turned upside down, and online shows have become the new norm. Over the past couple of months, the industry has had to come up with new approaches to creating and presenting collections. All of this is obviously not a problem for Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson. It may even seem like he is enjoying the challenge.
Before the launch of a series of online events curated by Anderson, dedicated to the release of the men’s spring-summer 2021 collection and the women’s cruise line of the Spanish fashion house, the designer told Vogue what it is like to manage a brand from your own kitchen, remembered the same Harry Styles cardigan and speculated about really whether fashion will go completely digital.
What was the most difficult part of working on the new Loewe collection?
Both JW and Loewe collections were created at my home, on my computer. We filmed everything only a few weeks ago, when the quarantine rules changed. Strange, but it was my most personal and home collection. It is very “tabletop”. It seems to me that I spent several months at work in the kitchen. This experience made me adventurous and helped me get more creative – constraints are important.
How will the presentation go?
We are launching a 24-hour online calendar (of lectures and workshops). All this will be about people in different parts of the world: not only in Europe, but also in Shanghai and New York. I collaborate with musicians, basket makers and artisans. I thought, “How can we democratize this process?”
We put everything we could into the work. The result is a time capsule. When I was a kid, I was crazy about Blue Peter (a British children’s television program) and the time capsules from there – the idea that they could be buried in a garden and then dug out. Yes, fashion can be about escapism, and clothing can be its source, but the presentation should be about what is really happening right now and the authenticity of it all.
In addition to the virtual presentation of the collection, you also release the so-called show in a box. What is it and how did you manage to convey the physical qualities of the show in this format?
I was so inspired by watching people create something with their own hands during the quarantine period, play board games at home, spend time with family and friends, or even with themselves. I spent a huge amount of time at home alone and began to create layouts (reduced models) – to work with my own hands. The idea of the box is to give the viewer something to do with which he can devote his free time. You can open it, you can not open it. We do not impose anything.
Loewe Show in a Box
Do you think there is a chance that in the future, fashion will go completely digital? Or will physical experience always matter?
At some point, the thought began to soar that there would be no more impressions, but it turned out exactly the opposite. Brands have become content machines. I do not know. I wish everything was more personal. At the moment, I can speak directly with consumers. Learning what they think is wrong with things and what they would like, working on ways to keep in touch with everyone through social media – all of this gave me strength and empowerment.
What was it like being a part of the viral TikTok movement that revolved around Harry Styles in a JW Anderson cardigan?
This is probably not because of the JW Anderson brand, but because of Harry Styles. But I thought, “Okay, I think I just have to share the pattern and knitting pattern – I have to give it to people.” It was nice to see young guys knitting this sweater for themselves or even for their dogs and cats. Such positive things are the result of this strange synergy.
You are passionate about crafts and embody their beauty in luxury products. Has it intensified during the pandemic?
The luxury industry is like a Pandora’s box. Now is the time of deep thought. I feel Loewe has a cultural responsibility: we must preserve the Spanish leather industry and contribute to its development. I see value in this. Lux has room to develop, as well as all industries. The company as a customer should support the crafts.
During the pandemic, Pascal Lepouavre, Managing Director, and I worked every night to ensure that Loewe was committed to developing the craft as responsibly as possible. In the first place on my list of priorities is to preserve jobs by any means possible.
How do you think the industry has responded to global changes?
In the global context, the key is to do what’s right for your brand. It’s not about competition. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about a group or a separate brand. You should be proud of the fact that you managed to make a collection or organize its presentation – and it doesn’t matter in what format. What will happen after? Who knows. Now the work is happening in real time. Yes, it’s about working on collections that will come out in the future, but also about finding pleasure in the current moment.
In fashion, we often tend to want revolution, but sometimes revolution is in the little things. There are many other issues that need to be addressed: equality, diversity of social and racial representation, the environment. It’s time for fashion to slow down and find a better way to move forward. This does not mean that we urgently need to rethink the fashion calendar and do it before tomorrow. This may take longer.
Should fashion finally free itself from its obsession with always being at the peak of relevance? And is there any point in turning to nostalgia for the past?
The past gives me inner balance. You can label it as nostalgia, but there are things in history that are important to know. And this does not mean that we need to do the same as then. Fashion has passed the phase of postmodernism, just like art. And now all creative ideas have reached a dead end, to an impassable brick wall. All that remains for us is to overcome it. But to do this, you may have to say goodbye to something. As in a fight. Personally, I work more productively in a struggle, because this way I feel that you are alive. It is not enough to get off with little effort. It’s about accepting a challenge, about breakthroughs.