In the Name of Authenticity

Jonathan Anderson talks exclusively to Nowfashion about today's evolving society, the younger generations, creativity, the environment, reality, and the digital world.

These days, collaborations are the real gasoline of contemporary fashion. In most cases, brands have in their portfolio a "one-night-stand partner" for a capsule collection, a strategy which impels us to think about today's creativity state. Mytheresa – not a fashion house but a store and e-tailer – adopted this system along it's selection of designer clothing, while creating a kind of "family and friends community" in order to perpetuate the relationship with the creative minds and make a solid connection. JW Anderson is one such creative mind, and, on the occasion of the launch of the new drop in Milano, talked exclusively (and openly) to Nowfashion about this and many other of today's hot topics. ”This is the best way to build a good business. I feel that today's trend is about longevity. I have been recently obsessed by this idea: you can't launch something that disappears in a blink, as most of the time happens. We get over excited about items that we forget as soon as we see them,” explained the Northern Irish designer while talking about the Mytheresa collaboration. ”We did our first event in Berlin in 2016, and since then they have been one of our key partners. They understand the brand, and we see with them a long-term cooperation. Nowadays, working closely with your retailers is fantastic. They are really delve into it – they are on the forefront; they are also exploring the personal relationships, which is rare these days.”

Chatting with Jonathan Anderson, it becomes clear how the poetic sensitivity and delicate vision that his collections embody are the result of a human approach elaborated through his visionary mind. The designer is very grounded, but, on the other hand, he knows how to Use his imagination without getting lost in the creative process. “I need to have constant projects going on. Curiosity and new challenges drive me and my energy, and I want to also advise the young generations to never stop their interests,” Anderson explained. “Throughout the year, I need moments that are not just the fashion shows. It's fulfilling for me to come to Milano for an event, to do a collaboration, or to meet different people; it’s a very social and intimate occasion. Sometimes you get bogged down by being in the studio without engaging with the outside world.” This is one of the creative voids into which many designers easily fall when driven by the illusion of the vainglory of a reached success. “In my opinion, when you grow as a designer and become popular, you should feel smaller and smaller. If you believe in the idea of yourself as a perfect being, it's very dangerous: believing your critics and in your own fears usually leads to a dead-end street. It's very important to act like you never really know where you’re at – because if you get it eventually, it makes you too aware. In my opinion, a designer shouldn't be too mindful because, ultimately, you have to be creative and consciousness will prevent you from having a wider vision. I've never even thought ‘Yes! I’ve done it! Brilliant!’ because then how do you outdo yourself again? On the contrary, it's always been one of my flaws to do something to a point where you find it exciting. But when you no longer feel the thrill, you have to pass it on to someone else and admit: ‘Can you put more energy into it than I can?’ Luckily, at the moment I have the energy, but one day I probably might not, who knows?” said Anderson, smiling.

His outlook is very keen and stern, and lets you understand how he is perfectly in-tune with the realities of today and how it reflects the creative processes which fully shifted in the last 10 or 15 years. “I had no choice other than to evolve; it's positive that things are changing at different paces so that we can follow them better. We live in a transitional period, and I think this is lucky: I didn't experience the advent of TV or radio, but I'm living the passage to the internet era, and it's exciting because I don't see a big difference compared to the past. We just have the possibility of more options to edit. It's nice to remember when, as a child, I didn't have all the distractions we have now. It’s a lot more complicated for young kids – they have everything available at their fingertips and this makes me think ‘How do you even manage that?’” reflected Anderson while thinking about the new generations. “But a great thing about mankind is that it adapts. The young blood will conform to the new standards. They are more aware, and they have different values. Nowadays, we are observing a clash of two generations: one part understands and the other doesn't; one part lets go and the other doesn't. Actually, this always happens. For example, I grew up in Northern Ireland in the 90s and it was pretty problematic, just as my parents said it was for them in the 70s. It's a transitional period, a handing-over; and then we will readapt,” Anderson commented. “It's an interesting time, and I feel that for all these reasons it's a moment for taking action. There are a lot of words, but very few people are completing concrete tasks. This might be due to the internet because it's easy to write sentences and post a picture instead of standing up and going. This is really difficult for the population because it involves a sensory part of the brain which alerts you to the possibility of risks.” And people often don’t want to deal with problems, so, instead, they interact on social media while sitting on their couches.

While talking about this idea of action, the conversation led immediately to sustainability and fashion, a real emergency turned in a hot topic by most fashion brands. ”We cannot pretend to save the planet overnight. I feel like there are a lot of political, environmental, and other viewpoints. But the problem is that this is not a trend, yet the reality is that things are happening and people have to make decisions. I actually feel there’s a lot of talking and no action,” emphasized the designer. ”I feel that I don’t need to use PR weapons to communicate what I do with my brand. There are many things I’ve also done at Loewe that have gone completely unnoticed, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I don’t care if the outside world doesn’t know. All I care about is that there’s a solution, and sometimes these are things done by people who are doing something real rather than just talking. I'm perfectly aware that fashion is a business, but we have to be able to be realistic in what we’re saying, unlike many brands today. My viewpoint is that you have to set a target to reach it. There’s a lot of PR work which doesn’t really make sense, but consumers understand and they are getting nervous about it. Let's think about the world population that has grown exponentially. This is a huge factor in today’s fashion world, and it urges everyone to do their part and to think in a more collective way. If we did so, we would achieve more effective solutions, even if the road is still very long. Again, it's a matter of being practical. So when I talk to my teams in both brands I work for, I want realistic solutions. I don’t want quick fixes. Fashion’s responsibility is to be rational and honest – you are not going to get results for a massive problem through smoke and mirrors.”

Of course, the constant growth of the world population doesn't excuse the overproduction of the fashion system which is out of control, with endless numbers of unsold collections made in order to satisfy the bulimia of a niche of wealthy people. In the short term, the solution of rationalizing production doesn't seem to be in the plans of any company, yet Anderson again shows his wonderful cynical sensibility: ”I feel we are in a moment where good products will survive and bad products will disappear. Brands will just disappear, and that's natural. There are many names in history that no longer exist even if they were amazing. Sometimes they just didn’t fit into the modern world anymore, or the creative person didn't have anything left to say.” Once again, the designer has revealed himself to be utterly in-tune with this constantly changing society. The speed of this virtual world doesn't scare him as he handles it while balancing digital platforms and everyday life. ”You don't get the emotions of an exhibition through Instagram, for example. This is making people forget the idea of what it really means to be social. It's crucial to not forget what it means to know, feel, and touch. This part will be always be disconnected from the digital world, but it's the only source of emotions that make you feel alive. It is important that people keep engaging with reality – that even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, at least it keeps your eyes always open.”

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