Fashion is a seasonal business. Designers show pre-autumn, autumn, summer and resort collections. Each appears on the sales floor in stores at the same time each year. But is this the best way to sell clothes? British menswear designer Aitor Throup thinks not.
‘Imagine a musician being told that they can only make an album every six months,’ says Throup. ‘Then imagine people only being able to buy that album for the following six months. And imagine being told after six months that it isn’t relevant any more.’
‘I find it unbelievable that what can be described as timeless design is only available for six months,’ says Throup. Rather than produce a collection limited to a particular season, Throup has taken a different approach. He has created hyperseasonal collections that are sold to retailers when they are finished.
Throup will use this idea in his forthcoming Polyphonic line, to be shown in Paris in June this year. ‘We will not sell seasonally, just when we can,’ says Throup, who will produce the collection when it is finished, not when it is time for the next season. ‘We don’t say ‘see you in six months’. We say ‘see you when it’s ready,’ says Throup.
As well as being hyperseasonal, Polyphonic will be a combination of Throup’s previous clothes designs and concepts. Some ideas, for example, will be used from Throup’s The Funeral of New Orleans, shown in 2008, or from the When Football Hooligans Become Hindu Gods project, shown in 2006. The result is not just a combination of old ideas, but a continually evolving collection, to which the designer can add over time. ‘No collection is complete,’ says Throup. ‘I want some of my designs from back then to be become their own icons.’
Throup is working on a similar project for sports brand Umbro called the Archive Research Project. The designer is updating the brand’s clothing archive, revisiting iconic football items such as the England football kit worn in the 1966 World Cup.
But will the rest of the fashion industry embrace hyperseasonality? ‘It has to,’ says Throup, ‘I know it will. When I was talking about it at university seven years ago, everyone was saying ‘wouldn’t it be great’. But now it feels so much closer to happening.’ LS:N Global agrees and expects more brands to produce hyperseasonal collections.
Top five take-outs
1: Be hyperseasonal. Think of collections as projects and produce them for retailers when they are ready.
2: Visit your archives. Revive past designs. Some are as relevant today as they were then.
3: Create new products by mashing together older ones. Throup creates new collections from previous projects.
4: Let products evolve. Add and update as well as creating something new.
5: Be timeless. Being anti-seasonal means you can transcend short-term fads.
Portrait of Aitor Throup by Alasdair McLellan