All of that is to say that he’s making clothes that follow those dicta. The collection he showed for JW Anderson on Wednesday was, as he put it, “very JW.” Designers seem to be thinking a lot about simple pleasures, but too often that’s meant clothes that feel safe. Anderson’s simple pleasures always have the strange zing that makes fashion Fashion: You look at it, and you just want to wear it—or, better, to be the person who does.
“In a weird way,” he went on, “I find nothing more modern than a pair of socks and running shorts.” If that sounds Juergen Teller-y, it is: this is the famously socks-and-shorts-wearing photographer’s third season shooting photographs for JW. “I love working with Juergen,” Anderson said. “It feels freeing. It’s not about being revolutionary in clothing. It’s actually about trying to build a character which sells a fashion dream.” In other words, he was thinking about the kinds of clothing he might like to see in a Juergen Teller photograph—or the kinds of photographs you’d see in the 1990s fashion magazine golden era. He’s right: the photos, with their tubesocked and shirtless men, kinda gnarly, photographed in a slightly glum house in London, have a charge that transcends the lookbook attitude that’s come to feel so stagey these past few months. Gnarliness: that’s shaping up to be a defining trend this season. Many of Anderson’s models had the mopey snarl familiar to admirers of the Palace Skateboards lookbooks (for which Teller has often shot, as well).
Anderson delivered the images in little cardboard black matte frames, with a sleeve of outtakes in the back—a nod, he said, to kitschy back-to-school photography. (Clearly, that experience was less traumatizing to Anderson than it was for most of us stateside.)
It’s the latest chapter in his show-in-a-insert intriguing medium here, though a little lower key. He doesn’t know whether he’ll go back to doing shows for his namesake brand. Probably for Loewe, in the fall. “For me, there’s no point rushing to get back to something when Europe may be open, but it’s a mess,” he said. “This whole thing is, we’re still in a transient period.” But he’s been “weirdly enjoying” all the experimentation, he said, and “when the moment feels right, the moment will feel right. You know what I mean?” Anyway, his creative output over the past year probably tell the most complete and compelling story of the pandemic through clothes.
We’re now a year removed from the first pandemic fashion shows, so inevitably it’s a moment to take stock of what’s changed, gotten better, faltered, whatever. One obvious result of the past fourteen months is that the industry has become far more splintered and spread—nearly every brand is showing on its own schedule, in its own way. But for Anderson, this is ideal. “I find this whole process really liberating,” he says. “because we’re kind of doing what you feel is right for you, but not, it doesn’t have to be right for industry.” Weird on, weirdos.