British fashion designer, Jonathan Anderson, who recently unveiled his limited edition Diet Coke collection at an exclusive venue in London’s Shoreditch area, reveals what his design is really about, what it’s like working for a luxury fashion brand, and why he doesn’t believe in trends.
What excited you about collaborating with Diet Coke?
It has a massive history with designers, including some of my biggest role models, Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gaultier and Karl Lagerfeld. It’s quite an honour to do it, and very nerve-racking. Diet Coke’s been a pop culture reference since the times of Andy Warhol, so it’s become something which links art, fashion and culture in a way I really like.
How did you come up with the designs for the bottles?
I was obsessed by the idea of the silhouette of the bottle, and I wanted to design something that was a juxtaposition, so when you look at it you don’t know what it is. Is it a print? Is it knit work? Is it a real label? So the idea is trickery, you can make it what you want. I decided to go with a photograph because that’s something that Diet Coke hasn’t done before. Someone thought it looked like music waves or sound waves. It’s actually silhouettes of Mt Vesuvius which we used in our [J.W.Anderson] collection that’s out in stores now.
Describe your design in three words!
Juxtaposition. Classic. Function. I like the idea that it’s an object you might put on your shelf as an ornament, and it could stay there for a while.
This collaboration is part of Diet Coke’s ‘Regret Nothing’ campaign. What’s the most impulsive thing you’ve done?
The first time I went to Los Angeles I did a bungee jump, although it was actually in a controlled environment. I remember feeling petrified. It was quite a cliché thing to do, but I did it and it was absolutely terrifying!
You’ve designed for high-end and high street shops. How does that differ?
When you work in a luxury market you have control over everything, and when working on a collaboration for the high street your control lessens as you have more volume. It’s a very different process because you’re building a collection that you want to be consumed by the masses, and I enjoy that. On the other side, with my own brand, I have to do something where we know the factories, we know the craftsmen, we know who we work with, and where the materials are from. Is it coming from good sources? Is it organic? Ultimately, it’s a very different process but in the end the outcome is something to be desired.
Photos From The Red Carpet
What do you think is unique about British fashion?
I have always said this, it’s not over calculated. It is very free in what it does, it doesn’t over think what it does, which is important. There’s an energy there which a lot of other fashion companies don’t have – and there's a freedom to experiment.
Has the fashion industry change since your career began?
It feels like being on a treadmill and the speed keeps going up. Every year it gets faster and you have to adapt more. What’s interesting now is that can talk directly to your consumer, which I have always enjoyed. I love talking to people and getting their reaction. I’m a very social person in that way. I like engaging with people because they let you know what they think, whether they like something or not, and you learn through that process.
Also, with apps like Instagram social media has become very important, especially for younger brands, because they can talk to a global audience. It’s not just about London, it’s about talking on a massive scale. In a weird way I’m my own publisher on my Instagram accounts. I think it’s important to let people know that you're human and that you have a life in which you do and see things you’re able to share. And, the great thing about that is democracy, being able to share information that doesn’t need to be screened.
Do you look to any other fashion designers for inspiration?
I look to designers in terms of their power and stamina. For example, Karl Lagerfeld, who has worked with Diet Coke before, I’ve always admired because he has this sheer determination that I don’t know if any other human being has. He knows more about the fashion culture than I do! His career continually evolves and it’s very rare to be able to do that. He’s an incredible example of design, and an incredible force in fashion.
Who have you recently spotted wearing J.W.Anderson?
I have a really loyal fan base who buy my clothing, so it would have to be the people I see on Instagram. They tag me on a daily basis, and I get to see what they’re wearing which is always exciting. It’s interesting to see what people mix it with, because that’s what fashion’s all about. I don’t think people need to be dictated to about what they should wear, you should wear it in whichever way you want. Sometimes you see a product that you did maybe two or three years ago, and someone is still enjoying it and that’s even more amazing.
You grew up in a small town in Northern Ireland. What was that like?
I am very grateful to have grown up there because the countryside gave me the determination to think bigger, and it's nice to have grown up in a 'naive' kind of way. You make do with your family and I did everything with my brother and sister. You have to make your own adventures and when you live in the middle of nowhere. It pushes you to be creative in order to entertain yourself.
What advice do you have for someone trying to launch a career in fashion?
I feel that you should never compromise. If you believe in something enough, it will happen. It’s not about working to live but enjoying work, and no matter what you do you will never get there because the goal posts will always keep moving, and that’s what’s so exciting about working in fashion.
What trends should we look out for?
I don’t actually like trends. I always think it’s about looking for things you have never seen before, and I think fashion moves so fast these days that there are no trends. It’s about trying to find the things that don’t fit in. That’s probably a good start.
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