Daniel Fletcher is an ex-BA Menswear student – as of July, this year – from Central Saint Martins. Kim Jones and Lucas Ossendrijver have closely mentored him to much prosperity: Purple PR nabbed him soon after his class’ showcase; Opening Ceremony are stocking an exclusive of his gear; he has his own studio; and he’s in the running for NewGen funding. Yep: he’s just finished his BA. Nope: he isn’t going to study a postgraduate course. The point being: that’s ok.
Postgraduate study is the conventional route for most of Britain’s adroit designers – that doesn’t mean it’s always beneficial. Finances tend to be a deciding factor: destroying your bank account just to punctiliously adhere to industry protocol isn’t a smart move. And, sometimes, education just isn’t necessary – particularly if you’re already being taught by Jones and Ossendrijver.
Riding purely on his aptitude for creation Fletcher’s gone from just-another-graduate to receiving widespread acclamation from industry kahunas in a matter of months. And he did it with no postgrad. Pandering to praxis is in the past; cracking it yourself is the new creed.
Lewis Firth: Modern-day gentrification in London acted as a prime influence for your ideas. Why were you drawn to that particular concept?
Daniel Fletcher: Gentrification was something I could see – and still can – happening all around me in London. When I first moved here I lived in Peckham. As a student it was one of the few affordable areas of the city, but I saw such a huge change in the attitude towards the area at the time and it was hard to ignore.
Developers with ambitious, commercial plans concerned me – they had no anxiety about the long-term effects: the impact on low-income residents and small businesses. My collection was a way to raise awareness about what was happening.
LF: You have worked very closely in the past with Lucas Ossendrijver and Kim Jones. What was that like?
DF: My experiences with Kim and Lucas were incredible and really shaped my ethos as a designer. Both of them provide a lot of freedom to their teams – despite being behind such huge, luxury brands the process of creation at Vuitton and Lanvin is immensely creative. (Lanvin, for example, are very hands on with everyone jumping on a sewing machine to come up with ideas.)
What I took away from both experiences was how to put a collection together: it was something I hadn’t really understood before – CSM, in my first few years, only taught me how to make one garment or look. I feel very privileged to have learned from the masters.
“Hussein Chalayan once told me that if you want to start a label then you need to have something to say and be doing something that nobody else is doing. I hope I’m bringing something new to London’s menswear scene.”
LF: What has been the most profound piece of advice – or experience – you’ve ever received?
DF: Sitting on the floor and eating our lunch during a long week of fittings, and talking about what it’s like to come out of CSM. Hussein Chalayan once told me that if you want to start a label then you need to have a reason, have something to say and be doing something that nobody else is doing. That’s really stuck with me. I hope he approves with what I am doing, and I hope I’m bringing something new to London’s menswear scene. I also got a lot of great advice from Tigran Avetisyan. He was in his final year when I was in my first and we were paired up so I could help him with his collection. He told me, “If you want people to remember your graduate collection then they need to be able to describe it in three words.” His: Chalk Board Collection. Mine: Peckham Pony Club.
LF: You were hospitalised before your BA Show. As soon as you were released you got back to work; did people think you were crazy?
DF: Those last few weeks of my degree were pretty hectic. Everyone was spending 12 hours a day in the studio and continued to work when they got home. Despite calling in every favour imaginable I ran myself into the ground (I’m still not quite sure what happened). But I managed to get discharged the night before the show and was styling it until the early hours.
People may have thought I was a bit crazy, running around backstage on show day, but I don’t think they were surprised. It seems to be a family trait. My sister’s in her final year studying textiles at Chelsea so I hope she’s learned from my mistakes and I’m also taking much better care of myself this season.
LF: Going solo straight after finishing your BA must be daunting — how’re you faring?
DF: Daunting is an understatement. There’re so many things that you never learn at school. Trying to get my head around production, wholesale, taxation, and the general running of a business is overwhelming – but I’m doing ok so far, I think.
I’ve set up my own studio; made a business plan; and secured my first stockist (an exclusive with Opening Ceremony). Now I just need to design and produce an entirely new collection by January…
LF: You have themes and concepts that drive your ideas, but is there a constant within your design process?
DF: Throughout my design education there was a reoccurring theme of mixing traditional tropes – connoting British heritage – with more contemporary garments and fabrications, particularly sportswear. Basically: taking something rural, putting it into a city environment, and giving it a contemporary urban-update. Growing up in Chester, then eventually moving to London, makes it something I can relate to – this juxtaposition will continue to inspire my collections.
LF: Can you also talk about the sports influences in your collection and how they tie in with your prime source of inspiration?
DF: I like seeing sportswear and performance clothing in an everyday wardrobe, especially when it’s combined with something it shouldn’t really work with: like a business shirt or a briefcase.
In urban areas of London – like Peckham – you can really see this. Sportswear is everywhere! I took elements of its construction and incorporated them into more classic garments.