Craig Green returns to the track
Protection, preservation, isolation, isolation. These are heavy themes that everyone has considered over the past two years, whether related to self, family, or industry. In a disused factory in east London, next to the Tate & Lyle sugar refinery, young designer Craig Green presented an Autumn/Winter 2022 menswear collection that explored all of these themes, and more. It was his first physical show in over two years; the last was held in January 2020 in Paris, where he will return to show in June.
Green is only a decade into his career, but his clothes – layered jackets influenced by workwear and baggy pants that sometimes look like judo clothes, decorated with vertical quilting, stocked at more than 80 retailers around the world – have been very influential. (In 2017, Giorgio Armani pulled a series of designs from Emporio Armani’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection following reports that they were remarkably close to Green’s clothes from the previous year.)
In this collection, the idea of taking care of oneself was imposed from the start, in hooded and muffled, enveloping and padded looks. Fuzzy mohair hoods with the texture of floating plankton were pulled over the chins; coat collars were hyperinflated with air-filled pockets like miniature life rafts; and sweaters flocked until they looked like fluffy cavity wall insulation. Below were silky billowing layers – inverted satin partings laid shiny side up against the body. The looks, in short, were halfway between a hazmat suit and a pair of pajamas. Which, at least ideologically, sounds like what we want to wear.
The larger idea of the collection was about projection, as well as protection. It was born from a modest mohair sweater. “We flipped it,” he said backstage after the show. “I always think it’s weird, if people wear fluffy things on the outside, they don’t experience the actual material. They try to look fluffier to others, rather than experience it themselves. As a result, the vast majority of parts were reversible, despite the complications that add to the manufacturing process.
And so also that satin against the skin – because Green never understood why people wore flashy pajamas with that on the outside, when it would be so much nicer the other way around. “Are you buying things for yourself or are you buying things because you’re suddenly going to see other people?” Green asked. “It’s a strange place.”
So was the show’s factory location, stuck in the seeming desert – Green is moving his studio there later this year, when the site is redeveloped as a series of creative studios.
The industrial reference was not disposable, nor confined to the sweet scent that emanated from neighbors. To create this collection, Green enlisted an unlikely group of British manufacturers. His bags were bags made by a medical factory that usually produces anesthetic pumps; the valves inserted in the pockets of the coats were created by a latex factory which normally equips divers on the high seas. There was also a Scottish manufacturer of gear levers, for tractors.
It looks like a motley crew, but it’s a testament to Green’s talent that he can synthesize this odd bunch and create something compelling and engaging.
There was also a slightly more conventional collaboration – he creates shoes with German sportswear company Adidas – designing puffy ankle boots with football boot soles that were inflated and could be deflated and flat-packed for the trip.
Green’s other accessories were also esoteric. Or maybe they just seemed like that, once you knew their origins: a drawstring bag took its form from an aesthetic bladder, a pragmatic decision given its origin of manufacture. Green intends to produce them for sale.
“We are an independent brand,” he said. “How do we make accessories and trim and things to compete [against the major luxury houses]The answer, for him, is to execute the job with ingenuity, passion and emotion. These garments looked striking, often desirable and utterly unique. They have hidden depth and many layers. his survival.
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