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Painting, baking, podcasting, running, staring forlornly out of the window; discovering new skills has been a cornerstone of lockdown life. For Coldplay bass guitarist Guy Berryman, a period of enforced absence from touring allowed him the time to explore a passion away from slapping the old four string. Namely, making nice clothes and launching his own brand.
Debuting at the tail end of last year, Applied Art Forms is Berryman’s foray into the world of utilitarian, military-inspired menswear... and it’s good! Musician-backed clothing labels have a, let’s say, chequered reputation, but A/A/F’s parkas, cargo trousers and tech-y liner vests avoid the usual pitfalls of celebrity labels. There are few logos, the palette is subtle, muted, and the fabrics are performance and quality oriented: Japanese cordura, garment-dyed cotton and water-repellant Ventile. The idea being, so says the brand’s manifesto, to offer “clothing as a companion” with “timeless appeal and lasting lifespan.”
A noted collector of cars and watches, Berryman also has an eye for archival fashion, his own wardrobe featuring grails from Helmut Lang and Margiela – the kind of pieces that looked good on the runway in ’89 and still do today, an aesthetic ideal that informed Berryman and the A/A/F look. Trousers are inspired by a Swedish deadstock from his own collection, which have been handcrafted in Japan from a cotton cordura mix for strength and softness. The brand’s ‘hero’ item so-to-speak, is the parka, a more elegant, Japanese militaria style than the dusty Britpop jackets that might spring to mind. Modular, they can be worn solo, with a matching liner jacket and with or without a hood. There are, of course, oversized t-shirts and sweatshirts rounding out the collection.
“I have long been interested in classic workwear and military clothes. At heart I’m a collector who gets excited by the smallest detail of design,” says Berryman, who also serves as the brand’s creative director. “Over time I realised that there were still gaps in my wardrobe because I wanted clothing that was suited to the way we live now, with every design element considered and honed into a perfect garment. For me form and function are everything and, in designing the core pieces for this collection, I was driven by the need to create clothes which were the consummate expression of great design and perfect fabrics. These are clothes for wearing every day.
“They won’t date and they won’t let you down.”
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