Gay Times Magazine - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy Balint Barna Words Ryan Cahill Fash­ion Kam­ran Ra­jput

While nav­i­gat­ing a po­lit­i­cal land­scape as treach­er­ous as 2018’s is, one young, Bri­tish de­signer stands alone in us­ing his fash­ion to spread a mes­sage. Daniel W. Fletcher speaks on the evo­lu­tion of his de­sign process and why he’s bring­ing pol­i­tics to the cat­walk.

Helm­ing from the north of Eng­land, menswear de­signer Daniel w. Fletcher is the man mak­ing waves (quite lit­er­ally) when it comes to Bri­tish fash­ion. As a grad­u­ate from Lon­don’s pres­ti­gious Lon­don Col­lege of Fash­ion - which made icons of Alexan­der McQueen and Is­abella Blow - his epony­mous brand con­tin­ues to es­tab­lish it­self as one of the most promis­ing up-and-com­ing menswear la­bels on the scene right now. With an in­stantly recog­nis­able aes­thetic which nods to­wards Bri­tish her­itage, the de­signer is gain­ing pres­tige for the po­lit­i­cal un­der­cur­rent to his de­signs, which make sub­tle so­cial com­men­tary on ev­ery­thing from Brexit to Trump.

As he winds down fol­low­ing an­other suc­cess­ful show at Lon­don Fash­ion Week Mens (where he packed out The In­sti­tute of Con­tem­po­rary Arts), we grabbed a mo­ment with Daniel to talk about his evo­lu­tion from small-town North­erner to ris­ing star of menswear de­sign. RC: Do you want to start by telling how you first

got in­ter­ested in fash­ion… DF: I never con­sid­ered it as a ca­reer path un­til I was much older. I kind of de­cided that I was go­ing into fash­ion when I was in my art foun­da­tion, so I went all through school think­ing I was go­ing to be an ac­tor - that’s what I re­ally wanted to do. I was ap­ply­ing for drama schools when I was 18, I was in three shows at the same time and it was re­ally stress­ful. I thought, ac­tu­ally, I don’t think I want to do this for­ever! I took a year out and then went and did art foun­da­tion af­ter that then I knew I wanted to do fash­ion!

RC: Is there any­one you were in­spired by from a fash­ion per­spec­tive when you were younger?

DF: Is it re­ally cheesy to say my mum? My mum loves shop­ping and dress­ing up! Maybe you saw her at the show on Sun­day? She was wear­ing a floor-length black and white mo­hair coat. I would al­ways go on shop­ping trips with her, but it was in a very dif­fer­ent way to what I’m do­ing my­self, but I re­mem­ber those things did have an im­pact. RC: So into with menswear that in rather mind, than how wom­enswear? come you went

DF: At wom­enswear, one point I then did think my tu­tor I was su–ested gonna do try­ing en­joyed a it, menswear it made so project much more and sense I re­ally to me. en­vis­age I was my­self de­sign­ing wear­ing. clothes I think that if you I could have a be­come per­sonal some­thing con­nec­tion nicer. to clothes, then they

RC: How would you de­scribe your own de­sign aes­thetic?

DF: I would say it’s mod­ern but with a nod to­wards Bri­tish her­itage.

RC: And from where do you draw in­spi­ra­tion from the most?

DF: I think tra­di­tional Bri­tish menswear is ac­tu­ally where a lot of it comes from. And if you see the col­lec­tions, the pieces are re­ally recog­nis­able, like a field jacket or a trench coat, or a mac or pa­jama shirt, or like a fish­er­man jacket. They are things that you might have seen in old books, or that peo­ple are still wear­ing to­day, in brands like Burberry and Mac­in­tosh and it’s just us­ing these clas­sic items, but I’m tak­ing these wardrobe sta­ples and mak­ing them into some­thing new.

RC: Some­times there’s a bit of politi­cism in your col­lec­tions - what is the thought process be­hind that?

DF: There have been a lot of these po­lit­i­cal state­ments in the col­lec­tion that have just come about by ac­ci­dent. I’ve been do­ing the la­bel for the past two years, and we’ve been hit with - one af­ter the other - these shit po­lit­i­cal storms and it has kind of felt nat­u­ral to talk about those things, and I’ve got a plat­form that peo­ple lis­ten to. It’s my way of ex­press­ing my­self, so if some­thing is hap­pen­ing, like Brexit, then I want to talk about these things.

RC: Do you fa­mil­iarise your­self with LGBTQ is­sues, po­lit­i­cally?

DF: Yeah, def­i­nitely. I think as a gay per­son, I’m al­ways drawn to the sto­ries in the news and all that’s go­ing on. It’s my com­mu­nity and I should be in­volved in it and talk about it.

RC: Do you think that LGBTQ is­sues could ever ap­pear in your own work?

DF: Ab­so­lutely! There’s a cap ac­tu­ally in the last col­lec­tion, which said OUT on it and I did want the word to be quite am­bigu­ous. It could mean any­thing; it could mean out of the closet, Don­ald Trump out. I didn’t specif­i­cally know what it was, I just kind of did this OUT cap.

RC: Talk us through your cre­ative process; how does an ini­tial idea be­come a com­plete col­lec­tion? DF: Nor­mally what I do is, at the start of the sea­son, I will go to the li­brary, go to mu­se­ums and get a feel of what this col­lec­tion could ac­tu­ally be about.

Last sea­son, these paint­ings be­came a start­ing point. I did them ac­tu­ally for no rea­son. I had a re­ally busy time and needed to do some­thing with my hands and not just be on the com­puter, so I thought that’s what that col­lec­tion should be about. It should be about ex­pres­sion and free­dom and do­ing some­thing be­cause you want to do it, not be­cause you’re in the sys­tem. So then that be­came a start­ing point for the col­lec­tion and then they be­came prints, and I started think­ing about how I can make a col­lec­tion that re­flected this free­dom of ex­pres­sion and abil­ity to change things.

I will then have a day with a stylist, and I will try loads of things on, and start to make a se­lec­tion, like ‘OK, this is what I think the col­lec­tion is about’. Then I start de­sign­ing from that, so that’s when I’ll start draw­ing and de­vel­op­ing sam­ples, and also I’ll ar­range plans.

There’s cer­tain things you have to do to make a col­lec­tion. If you’re go­ing to do 12 looks, then you’re go­ing to need at least 12 pairs of trousers, so I ar­range a plan where I look at what I think can be the key pieces.

RC: How do you think you’ve de­vel­oped since your first col­lec­tion?

DF: I think my last col­lec­tion def­i­nitely felt a lit­tle more so­phis­ti­cated. I feel like the guys got slightly older and my very first col­lec­tion felt very boy­ish, like school boys. This one has el­e­ments of that with the striped shirts and like the over­sized coats and stuff like that, but there’s also this feel­ing that he has ma­tured a lit­tle bit, and you can see that there’s more suit­ing, and it feels like more lux­ury as well.

RC: Do you think that the fash­ion in­dus­try is in­clu­sive?

DF: I mean, I’ve found it very in­clu­sive, but maybe that’s be­cause I’m a gay man, and the fash­ion in­dus­try is kind of dom­i­nated by gay men. And I know there’s fe­male friends of mine who work in the fash­ion in­dus­try who do say it is more dif­fi­cult, and I think that’s re­ally sad. But then, from my per­spec­tive, I came from this kind of small town and I didn’t know any­one in the fash­ion in­dus­try. I didn’t have any ac­cess to it un­til I went to univer­sity. So, for me, con­sid­er­ing all those things, it’s been very wel­com­ing.

RC: And how about with re­gards to di­ver­sity?

DF: I think that is some­thing which is al­ways a prob­lem, like even when we’re casting for the show. I would like to have a re­ally di­verse cast and I think we re­ally achieved it this sea­son, but in prior sea­sons, we kind of stru–led be­cause ac­tu­ally the agen­cies weren’t send­ing enough non-white mod­els. I had a re­ally good casting di­rec­tor, and she’s all about di­ver­sity, and she was like, ‘What’s go­ing on? Why are the agen­cies not scout­ing these mod­els? There’s equal amounts of non-white boys in this coun­try, how is it that they have just 90 per­cent white boys? That’s crazy to me.’

RC: Fi­nally, for peo­ple who are look­ing at this fea­ture - and the clothes - can you give a bit of a con­text about what the clothes rep­re­sent?

DF: This is a sum­mer col­lec­tion and I was re­ally think­ing about Bri­tish sum­mer. You have all these stripe prints, body­suits and swim­suits, and it was like a 1950’s sum­mer hol­i­day. That’s why you have these striped prints that look like they’ve been scratched out and stretched back out, or lay­ered over these sort of wrestling suits put with some­thing quite un­ex­pected like a re­ally sim­ple trench coat where the front panel is kind of longer than the back panel. It’s some­thing that’s re­ally iden­ti­fi­able, but then some­thing re­ally un­ex­pected as well.

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