Jamie Elwood's Menswear isn't for the faint hearted. Inspired by American architecture with shapes and materials one might typically associate with Womenswear, Elwood, a recent graduate from Liverpool's John Moores University is fearlessly pushing for a more effeminate male dress-code. TRIP caught up with the budding new designer to talk about his debut collection, The Architectural Man, the appropriation of 'feminine' fabrics and the future of British Menswear.
TRIP: How and when did you first get into fashion?
Jamie Elwood: I have always been fascinated with clothing and the attention to detail. From as far back as secondary school any chance to include fashion into my work was crucial to me. It developed naturally in deciding to further my education by going to university to study fashion design.
TRIP: You studied at LJMU, how did you find your time there? Do you feel Liverpool as a city has influenced you as a designer?
Jamie Elwood: My time at LJMU was very influential in developing my career path. It was a positive experience that has helped in getting me to the stage at which I am at now. Liverpool has influenced me greatly as a designer especially with the diverse styles of architecture within the city.
TRIP: How would you describe your design philosophy?
Jamie Elwood: It allows me to express my creativity and push boundaries within menswear. I feel very passionately about this, showing more diverse designs and ideas and them being accepted in society. I have a graphic approach to my developmental work which I expand to produce a final outcome.
TRIP: What drew you towards Menswear?
Jamie Elwood: Men’s tailoring has been one of my main interests in fashion throughout and developing this concept with more feminine shapes and cut has inspired me greatly. I feel a real connection with menswear that I don’t as much with that of women’s. I envisage how I want men to dress and how I would like them to look.
TRIP: Your Menswear references shapes and ideas one might associate with Womenswear – are you pushing for a more effeminate masculinity?
Jamie Elwood: Yes. I want to create a more varied opinion on ‘masculinity’ and people’s perceptions of what they associate men to wear, but at the same time for the man to feel comfortable, confident and masculine in the garments.
TRIP: There is a current surge of Menswear designers who are pushing ‘feminine’ ideas - How do you see the future of Menswear?
Jamie Elwood: I see the future continuing to push boundaries and ideas within men’s fashion. The use of colour, material, print and shape to be developed further and be more accepted. The tailoring aspect of menswear will still be crucial for years to come.
TRIP: Could you explain to us the inspiration behind your collection, The Architectural Man…
Jamie Elwood: I first started my design process for this collection by gathering primary research from 3 locations in America, which were New York, Washington DC and Baltimore, with the main focus being the architecture. The use of repetition, clean lines and scale influenced me greatly. I developed my ideas through a rigorous process which lead to my final outcome. It was crucial for me to incorporate feminine aspects into my designs. This was done through the use of fabric, cut, shape and embellishment.
TRIP: How has the choice of materials – from tartan suiting to lace helped push these ideas of Masculinity and Femininity?
Jamie Elwood: They have been the key factor in illustrating the idea of Masculinity meets Femininity. The tartan fabrics and wools associated with menswear kept the aspect of masculinity to the garments with the use of delicate lace and heavy embellishment introducing a feminine touch to the overall look.
TRIP: You were selected to show your collection at Graduate Fashion Week in July - How was your GFW experience?
Jamie Elwood: My experience was incredible and will always be something I will remember. I was very nervous before showing my collection. The experience was very rewarding, with a personal invitation to apply for a Masters at the London College of Fashion being a highlight.
TRIP: Is the ‘show’ the most exciting part of being a designer?
Jamie Elwood: The ‘show’ is a very exciting part of being a designer but other aspects are just as exciting. Being able to see a collection grow from start to finish throughout all the design processes, to produce a final outcome and being able to show how you feel through garments. Also the response to the collection is very exciting.
TRIP: Who do you see wearing your clothes?
Jamie Elwood: Men who are comfortable and confident with their clothing choices and are not afraid to experiment with more unconventional looks.
TRIP: What’s next for you?
Jamie Elwood: A Masters course in Menswear at the London College of Fashion. To develop further as a designer, pushing more boundaries and concepts whilst refining my look.