Architects and designers "don't have a clue
about fashion" says Marc Newson

| 14 comments
 

News: most collaborations between fashion houses and industrial designers fail because of the "terrible snobbery" between the two industries, according to Marc Newson (+ interview).

Marc Newson 2014 collection
Marc Newson 2014 G-Star Raw collection. Above image: Newson designed a bomber jacket to mark the 10 year anniversary if his collaboration with G-Star Raw.

"Most industrial designers don't have a clue about fashion," the Australian industrial designer told Dezeen. "Most architects don't have a clue about fashion. There's never very successful crossovers, creatively."

Marc Newson 2014 collection
Marc Newson G-Star Raw 2014 collection

Newson spoke to Dezeen at an event to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his collaboration with fashion brand G-Star Raw.

Marc Newson 2013 collection
Marc Newson G-Star Raw 2013 collection

Held at London's Design Museum on Wednesday, the party was used to showcase the 10th anniversary range from Newson's biannual collection for the Dutch brand.

Marc Newson 2013 collection
Marc Newson 2013 G-Star Raw collection

"It's [been] 10 years of experimentation to get to the point where we are now," Newson said. "We've now identified an audience for this stuff, it's all over the world. We've gotten to a point where it works, commercially as well."

Marc Newson 2011 collection
Marc Newson 2011 G-Star Raw collection

Newson said that the fashion industry was faster, more efficient and more in tune with contemporary culture than design and architecture, but added that industrial designers were prevented from learning from it because of their prejudices.

Marc Newson 2011 collection
Marc Newson 2011 G-Star Raw collection

"There's no denying the effect, the profound effect that fashion has on consumers in general," he said. "That's the thing which is really interesting thing that people in other industries should embrace. I think people find it fickle and they find it superficial. There's a terrible snobbery that exists between each of these industries, so whether or not it will happen I don't know."

Marc Newson 2010 collection
Marc Newson 2010 G-Star Raw collection

Newson previously spoke to Dezeen about how the fashion world "laughs at" industrial designers while Google Glass makes the wearer look like "a bit of an idiot" at the of launch his first collection of optical eyewear in March – read the earlier interview here.

Glasses collection by Marc Newson for Safilo to debut in Milan
Marc Newson

Here's the transcript of our interview with Marc Newson:


Dan Howarth: How did the collaboration with G-Star first come about?

Mark Newson: The owner of the company – a guy called Joss – approached me 11 years ago and he was sort of interested in my work in general. He suggested that we think about some kind of collaboration. He really wasn't sure what, it wasn't about clothing necessarily. After a few months we came up with a couple of pieces in the very first collection but they were overalls and things like that, proper workwear. Then it just morphed into this fully-fledged, but very small collection. And slowly, gradually, we've refined our audience.

Marc Newson 2009 collection
Marc Newson 2009 G-Star Raw collection

Dan Howarth: Why do you think that the collaboration has lasted so long?

Mark Newson: Because it's quite small it's quite manageable. We don't get in each others' face. It's not that they don't care what I do, but they don't try and second guess the ideas. We've now identified an audience for this stuff, it's all over the world. G-Star is such a fantastic machine with such a far reach. We've gotten to a point where it works, commercially as well. So it has a reason to be.

Marc Newson 2006 collection
Marc Newson 2006 G-Star Raw collection

Dan Howarth: Many industrial design and fashion partnerships haven't lasted as long. Is there a reason for this?

Mark Newson: Because I think that most industrial designers don't have a clue about fashion. Most architects don't have a clue about fashion. There's never very successful crossovers, creatively. I'm not suggesting that I necessarily understand fashion, but I've always been exposed to fashion.

Since I left Australia 25 years ago I've spent all of my time in either Paris, or Japan, or London. Inevitably you come across people in the fashion world in those places. There's something about the fashion industry that excites me. The speed and efficiency with which you're able to execute something from beginning to end. The design world in general – and I'm talking about my design world, I'm not talking about Apple – they struggle to work with that same efficiency.

I'm a huge fan of contemporary culture. If you look at the work of automotive design, which I find pretty deplorable really in general, it doesn't embrace the world of contemporary culture. It can't, they haven't got any idea what young people really respond to. Fashion is the medium with its finger on the pulse. It's so fast, it's so quick. Fashion's not the answer but it's an important dimension to embrace.

Marc Newson 2005 collection
Marc Newson 2005 G-Star Raw collection

Dan Howarth: Do you think more industrial designers and architects might benefit from learning from the fashion industry?

Mark Newson: I think you've got to be interested and if you're not then it's going to be a pointless exercise. But if you are interested in the relevance of the industry in terms of how it affects everyone, and it really does.

There's no denying the profound effect that fashion has on consumers in general. That's the thing which is really interesting that people in other industries should embrace. I think people find it fickle and they find it superficial. There's a terrible snobbery that exists between each of these industries, so whether or not it will happen I don't know.

Marc Newson 2005 collection
Marc Newson 2005 G-Star Raw collection

Dan Howarth: How have your G-Star Raw collections changed over the years?

Mark Newson: We've just gotten to know how we work best, I've gotten to know what I like and what I don't like. We experimented a lot. Obviously, it has not been 10 years of refinement; it's 10 years of experimentation to get to the point where we are now. There is an audience for this stuff, that's what's interesting. You discover through this whole process that there are people that really respond to this stuff and want it. You create this market – or maybe you're just responding to a market that already exists, but nevertheless it exists in many different places around the world, which is sort of reassuring somehow. All I ever set out to do was to design things that I'd like to wear really, and it turns out that other people do too. It was never as easy for men as it was for women to buy clothes. It's much easier now, but I think it's always been much better for women, in general.

Marc Newson 2005 collection
Marc Newson 2005 G-Star Raw collection

Dan Howarth: Do you plan to work with other fashion brands?

Mark Newson: Unless it's collaborating with say Nike – which I've done before – then I wouldn't necessarily feel the need. I work with enough luxury brands now that does give me a level of exposure to the world of fashion. So I think no, I'm really happy working G-Star because they fulfil a need and an interest that I have. I generally, only tend to work with one client per sector. If I find a good one then I'm really happy to keep working with them and G-Star are as good as any. They're really incredibly good at what they do. It's not necessarily all to my taste, but that's not the point.

Dan Howarth: Why do you think G-Star Raw has such international popularity?

Mark Newson: I don't know. I guess what they do responds to peoples' needs on a certain level but it also has a lot to do with the way that they do it. The efficiency with which they produce and make things available in all different sizes and varieties. It works brilliantly as a machine.

  • Noname

    Hubris.

  • Wolfie

    “Because I think that most industrial designers don’t have a clue about fashion. Most architects don’t have a clue about fashion.”
    How vacuous can this get? Surely someone is clueless on the differences of these disciplines.

  • Mindaugas

    Truly amazing designs, and totally right about the snobbery which I would call narrow mindedness.

  • Hank

    That headline, his face and his glasses just made me laugh out loud – they do not fit his face at all :)

  • urB

    I guess architects don’t work with young consumers of this year, but for the society of upcoming decades which makes a big difference in the approach. Fast doesn’t mean any good then.

  • Chris Parrott

    Fashion is so awful we have to change it every 6 months.

    • scot sims

      Then you should change where and how you shop. I have 10-15 year-old pieces I wear. Good design doesn’t go out of fashion, trends do.

    • KN

      Oscar Wilde, no?

  • Iryna

    As if attempts of fashion designers in furniture/interior design or architecture are any better than the result of collaborations between architects and fashion houses.

    As it has been pointed out, the approaches of those disciplines are completely different and one cannot simply apply architecture principles into fashion.

    I’d also like to note that it’s mostly kitschy and posh architects like Zaha Hadid who work with fashion, so the result is predictable but not objective.
    Thirdly, I strongly disagree with the notion that fashion evolves ahead of architecture. Even though it takes much more time to design and erect a building than to design and produce a garment, I spot major trends in architecture long before they appear in fashion.

  • ipickthisname

    I’m aware of at least one person who will. This person is the same person who Alice Rawsthorn describes near the end of her 2008 article, “Dearth of a Nation”. I believe “crowdfunding” is what changed the game, we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Iryna

    Not really. Architecture, fashion, industrial design, art, etc. reflect societal changes: shifts in identity, self-perception, relations to environment and so on. However, each of these disciplines makes this reflection it in its’ own peculiar way with its’ own specific methods – this is what I called principles.

    • sanforizedface

      Marc Newson’s line from G-Star Happens to be a favourite of mine.

      I do really like Marc Newson’s work also. I don’t know how much I’m feeling his comments. Let’s face it, humbleness isn’t a normal attribute found in people with exceptional greatness.

      Side note:

      G-star is having a 30% off sale on their website. This almost never happens! It just so happens last season’s Marc Newson is on sale.

  • Vince

    Umm clearly architects don’t have a clue about dressing like a teenager with an ASBO. I’ll give him that!

  • Fed Fef

    A lot of fashion designers don’t have a clue about fashion. Intelligent fashion like the one you see in industrial design and architecture is a rare thing. At least, I haven’t seen much.