Winnie New York has created your next favorite pair of pants

Idris Balogun, founder and designer of Winnie New York, is a fashion geek like only a designer can be. As an example during our 30-minute zoom call, he tells me not one, but two anecdotes about the pants. The first was a story a friend told him about a man walking into a Comme des Garçons store. He didn’t know much about fashion or the history of the brand, but he had bought the brand’s pants 20 years ago and wanted to see what they were up to now.

“For me, it’s beautiful,” says Balogun. “The design started from an inspiration, a sketch, textiles. Then he found his place in this man’s life for 20 years.

The second story shows a more familiar scenario in today’s disposable landscape. Years ago, Balogun bought a pair he loved from a (which will go unnamed) mid-range luxury retailer. Then, after a few months, the thighs started to pill. He went to the store to see if anything could be done and to his amazement the salesperson laughed. “He’s just like, ‘nah bro, there’s nothing you can do,” Balogun said. “You wear the pants and that’s what happens. You have to throw them away eventually.

“I thought that attitude was crazy and I thought that if I ever had a brand, I would never want mine to be like that. I want to find a way to solve this.

Both stories sum up Balogun’s approach to clothing – as something to be cherished. In 2019, the designer launched Winnie New York, his own brand that aims to solve the problem of poor quality pants. Building on his years of experience in the fashion industry – starting at Savile Row at just 14 (he lied at his age to find an apprenticeship) before spending time at Burberry and Tom Ford – Balogun manufactures carefully designed clothing to withstand the season. after season.

With Winnie New York, your pants (or knitwear, or t-shirts) won’t start to come undone after a few months. “I think fashion is one of the only creative industries that doesn’t think about sustainability in a design aspect, not just the source material – things like adding little notches here and there, or sewing on. somehow allow people to use the product forever, Balogun explains.

But Winnie New York is not just a question of technical ability or quality. Balogun explains that his experience influences his work “from all points of view”. Savile Row is a prestigious place, but it is also a strange place. Idris worked at costume maker Hardy Amies where he honed skills in making pants and jackets. The place was kind of a bubble, completely removed from the idea of ​​seasonal fashion as we know it. “At Hardy Amies, we’ve had the same color palette for almost 200 years. We had this thing where we never did salmon pink. No matter what, no matter what, we would never do that, ”he recalls.

Eventually the couture world felt a bit too closed off, Balogun wanted to experiment with his clothes (and maybe use salmon pink every now and then). Working under the guidance of Burberry’s Christopher Bailey gave the designer his first glimpse of how to explore art through clothing, while Tom Ford is where he “learned the idea of ​​elevation.” “.

“At Winnie, I try to embody all of these things within the brand. I try to make sure that what we create has the authenticity and the handcrafted feeling that Savile Row gives, as well as making sure that every collection is informed by art and passion, ”he says. . “I like to try not only to create cool clothes, I try to educate people on things that we maybe didn’t know or things that I just want to highlight.”

The brand’s name itself is dedicated to its late grandmother, Princess Winifred Dadem. “When my grandmother passed away, it was the first time that I had stepped away from the fashion world for an extended period of time and thought about what I wanted with my life and career,” says- he. “My grandmother was my cheerleader and my biggest supporter. She believed I could do whatever I wanted. I really wanted to do something like an ode to her so I started the brand.

It was not until its third collection that Winnie New York was a brand that developed and carved out a niche. For FW21, Idris drew inspiration from the textile sculptures of found objects by Canadian artist Tau Lewis. Lewis’s work explores ideas of unity and connection and their relationship to the black diaspora.

“I really wanted to try and capture the essence of what she was creating, but I didn’t want to just make lookalikes of her sculptures,” Idris explains. The resulting collection includes nontraditional hand stitching and knitting, all tied to Lewis’ color palette and the oversized silhouettes of his sculpture. “I tried to really push this story into the collection. But also to stay true to Winnie’s DNA and to my experience as a designer.

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