Is craft the antidote to our tech-filled lives? Jonathan Anderson talks to us about the crochet touches bringing humanity to the runway
Jonathan Anderson’s world is entwined with craft. Both the designer’s eponymous line J.W. Anderson and the institutional Spanish heritage brand Loewe, of which he is creative director, explore individualistic relationships with craft, at their polar ends of age. In the past year, Anderson has introduced the Loewe Craft Prize and debuted his first large exhibition, Disobedient Bodies: J.W. Anderson Curates the Hepworth Wakefield, which aligned high fashion worlds, such as Rei Kawakubo’s, with the more locally experiential in Magdalene Odundo’s ceramics. Meanwhile, Anderson has transformed the Loewe flagship in Madrid into a temple of the hand-hewn. The savoir-faire of the hand-made leatherware aside, the rafters are filled with textural artworks and pottery, sculpture and its very own florist, the Bauhaus palette and humble finishes of which hum with a sense of organic, Modernist chic. For his Autumn/Winter 2017 menswear collection, however, this attention to the handmade came through via a more tongue-in-chic tone: Lego-coloured crochet. Read: the stuff of 70s tea cosies and bric-a-brac blankets.
“I think craft is so important, I think it relates to the human touch. Sometimes that’s missing in fashion,” Anderson tells AnOther about the collection. “I wanted to use crochet this season because I think there is something in it that is very important to J.W. Anderson – the idea of naïve craft. It’s also something that reminds me of my childhood. I like something which refers to the reality of family life also.” Bringing these homely touches to the runway is Anderson’s answer to our tech-filled lives. Entwining these naïve handiworks – patchwork crochet on trailing scarves, tails, cardigan pockets, and skirts-over-trousers – with pagan-esque knits, Napoleonic neck scarves, fluid flares, stained-glass prints and fairytale illustrations, creates a folkloric feel wrought in New Age acid hues.
Such intertextuality is Anderson’s way of grounding us, and our relationship with clothing, in the real world, a place where objects are made by people, and exist in real space and time – not just on our Instagram feeds. “We see [craft] as a very nostalgic thing but, in the digital age, we want to reconnect with something,” Anderson told AnOther’s Olivia Singer when the Craft Prize was announced. “And no matter what age demographic or background you’re from, certain objects just have a resonance: they make you feel happy.”
For the happy news of Anderson’s womenswear fans, these compelling details have been interlaced into a series of pieces especially for women. Formerly the reserve of knitting circles, grandmothers and charity shops, this quintessentially British furnishing has been worked on to bucket bags and structured blazers that will drop next month on MATCHESFASHION.COM. But rather than putting the emphasis on menswear for women, Anderson is keen just to share the love of craft. Gender fluidity is key to this revered designer: “I think it’s this idea of a shared wardrobe; this idea that it’s something that both men and women can relate to. It’s an emotional connection to it and I think it’s that that’s so important.”
The collection launches exclusively on MATCHESFASHION.com on August 9, 2017.