Designer Christopher Raeburn On Sustainable Style And Having David Attenborough On The Frow

Dan Choppen
Photo credit: Christ Tang

From Esquire

The coronavirus has come for Fashion Week, but Fashion Week is unbowed. With the 2020 edition of LFWM going all-digital, the event's key designers talk us through how they've adapted to showing clothes in a world where showing clothes is (almost) impossible.

What’s been the biggest challenge with producing a lockdown fashion ‘show’?

Whilst the last months have had their challenges operationally, we've used our obligation as creatives to look for better systems and ways of doing things. It’s been a unique situation to test, experiment and react – taking those learnings to work towards a better future. ⁠Not only have we dug deeper into our material archives, we’ve actually truly brought Craft, Creativity and Community to the fore.

What non-fashion skills have you picked up during lockdown?

Lockdown has pushed us to optimise and adopt new digital tools and processes, accelerating our move to a more efficient way of working.

How have you seen London’s fashion community come together in the past few months?

We’ve actually become more connected than ever before. We certainly ramped up our community engagement via projects like ‘Raeburn At Home’ and the ‘RÆBURN Connects’ series, which has had amazing results. Myself and the team are also very proud to have worked with the British Fashion Council on the joint campaign ‘Great British Designer Face Coverings: Reusable, for People and Planet’. The ambition of the project is to raise £1 million with 100 per cent of profits going to charity – it’s collaborative design as a force for good.

Is this a watershed moment for the fashion industry?

I truly hope so – the last months have evidenced to us all that what we do as an industry doesn’t make sense; a race to the bottom where overproduction and consumption are symbiotic. We need to evolve or die. Our RÆSTART manifesto puts into writing our long-term obligation to change, and we urge others to join us.

Favourite British designer at the moment?

I have always been more interested in functional clothing than designers themselves. My teenage years collecting military items translated into a degree in fashion design. It’s here where I discovered incredibly affordable surplus on scale, which led to the business today.

Photo credit: Ben Broomfield

What advice would you give to fashion graduates who want to set up a fashion business?

Start off small, and do one thing properly – but stay flexible. I also suggest trying to maintain a healthy balance between creativity and commercial relevance. Now is the perfect time to rethink and experiment; and those that will, will no doubt shine.

What kind of role do you think a fashion show will play in five years?

I question whether there really will be fashion shows in five years' time. We need to find new methods and evolve the traditional model, and indeed RÆBURN stopped taking part in catwalks last year. It’s about providing more value for the community, so we need to explore how we can bring meaningful, emotional connection to a show.

If your new collection had a mantra, what would it be?

The tagline is, “What Could be More Radical Than Making Nothing At All?”. Its aim is to inspire a new approach to waste, mass production and our need for consumption.

Can you pick one piece or look from the range that defines the collection?

The French MVP Parka, due to its purity in design, attention to detail, and quality – the thought that’s gone into the piece is second to none. For me, it embodies a whole collection, which is curated with pure contemporary relevance in mind.

In a money-and-physics-no-object world, talk us through your dream fashion show

If we dare to dream big, a fashion show should be a statement; an opportunity to change something for the better. It should be inspiring to the viewer whilst also giving something back, truly bridging craft, creativity and community. We already have the tools to intertwine the digital and physical worlds, meaning shows should be both globally available and locally accessible.

Who makes it onto your perfect frow?

My long-time inspiration has been none other than David Attenborough. His advocacy for environmental issues has only been amplified in recent years, and for him to see the work that we’re doing through RÆBURN would be a real honour.

Watch all the London Fashion Week shows at londonfashionweek.co.uk

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