Architects and designers "don't have a clue about fashion" says Marc Newson
News: most collaborations between fashion houses and industrial designers fail because of the "terrible snobbery" between the two industries, according to Marc Newson (+ interview).
"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."
Newson spoke to Dezeen at an event to celebrate the tenth anniversary of his collaboration with fashion brand G-Star Raw.
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.