Written by David Hellqvist
Recently unveiled at Dover Street Market, designer and artist Aitor Throup has released the second tier of a three-part menswear collection. The capsule collection of four garments launched during London's Frieze Art Fair is unique for two reasons. Firstly, the T-shirt, jeans, denim jacket and skull rucksack represent the Argentine-born designer's first full ready to wear outfit that's available to purchase. Secondly, this 'New Object Research' outing perfectly demonstrates Throup's ability to make strong political statements with his fashion. Each named 'Stockwell', the pieces are replicas of what the Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes wore when the Metropolitan Police shot him to death on 25 July, 2005, in Stockwell, south London. The backpack is inspired by the negative connotations surrounding similar black bags post the London 7/7 bombings.
For Aitor, the politically charged pieces, taken from his 'On the Effects of Ethnic Stereotyping' collection, was inspired by a commission for Nick Knight's 'Political Fashion' series on SHOWstudio. "I was influenced by events in the aftermath of the London underground bombings. In the days after the terror attack, people were encouraged to not use black rucksacks on the tube. And if they did, some people got up and left the carriage, instantly judging them because of what they wore" explains Throup. For the designer, all of a sudden a black rucksack became a political and psychologically powerful sartorial item.
In an age where even the most avant-garde creativity can become predictable, it's refreshing when a designer makes fashion conceptually exciting again. Only, what Aitor Throup does isn't necessarily fashion, at least if you ask him about it. Placing himself in the twilight zone between product design and art, Throup's garments can certainly be perceived as fashion, but for the designer it's the concept and process that matters. Throup plucks styles and garments from a collection of archetype concepts to be re-worked and updated. "I don't believe in collections that are showed every six months – I want my clothes to constantly tell a story and have a narrative," he says.
The Dover Street Market collaboration is a perfect fit when considering both groups background. Comme des Garcons and Throup share an artistic approach to fashion, enabling them to communicate and understand each other. "Adrian Joffe contacted me two years ago, and both him and Rei Kawakubo have been to my studio. I've always respected them and that turned into mutual respect," says Throup. The collaboration has also put Throup in the right state of mind for what's about to come, In January he's showing a full RTW collection as part of London Collections: Men. "The idea was to generate a concept, to create our own universe and a specific ideology – we are now fully set up for the next step" he concludes.