• Text Lewis Firth
  • Photography Takanori Okuwaki
  • 15th June 2015

Jungle fever

Birds squawking and apes screaming: the ambient noises played while you walked into the Old Sorting Office for Christopher Raeburn’s SS16 collection. But the inspiration behind the veteran-designer’s concept was a lot deeper than a few jungle-noises.

Natural-science legend Tom Harrisson was the prime source of inspiration. Often described as just an anthropologist, but he was more than that: ornithologist, art-curator, archaeologist, conservationist – and a soldier. During WWII he was parachuted into Borneo to convince indigenous tribes to support allied forces. Contrasting cultures and an injection of military references was the main drive here.

Camouflage patterns were present on cotton, wool and synthetic compositions seen on asymmetric aprons and jackets, while orangutans were printed on knits and tops and were also the choice of creature for Raeburn’s seasonal animal-backpacks.

His other seasonal offering, the ‘remade’ garments, tied in well with the concepts of jungle-survival and military-inspired gear: sleeping bags, air-break parachutes and bivouac canopies were made into nylon suit-jackets, coats and shorts. These muscular tropes of sustainability and durability, mixed with clever design, elevated Raeburn’s collection into contemporary territory.