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05. July 2011
When he caught Suzy Menkes' eye in New York City, this British designer knew he had found the ticket to success. Today, Raeburn is internationally known. He payed his first visit to Berlin this year with his "Remade in Switzerland" collection. Staying true to his principles, Raeburn worked with recycled military wear to create a new collection. "Remade in Switzerland" was the result of a collaboration with Victorinox (the makers of the classic Swiss pocket knives) and brought forth transformations from sleeping bags to anoraks and parachutes to windbreakers. Ten plus one questions for a man, who has just landed in Berlin from Paris.
1. Do Switzerland and England have anything in common?
I think that Switzerland and England have a great deal in common; from a personal point of view I enjoy the love of craft that both nations share.
2. Who initiated the "Remade in Switzerland" project? Who approached whom?
The project was initiated by a brand consultant who works closely with Victorinox; it was in the Spring of 2010 when I was approached. At about that time I was getting lots of offers for collaborations because of my growing mainline collections and activities around London Fashion Week. When the approach came from Victorinox it was a great honour and so I was only to happy to work on the project. I wrote my own brief which I presented to Victorinox; I’ve been so please and how open they have been to my ideas and how supportive they have been of the “Remade in Switzerland” project.
3. It's the digital age and you're wearing a wristwatch - are you sentimental?
I’m wearing a Victorinox automatic watch; very kindly it was a gift on behalf of Victorinox given to me by the president of the fashion division Joachim Beer. It already holds sentimental value and it’s become invaluable in my day to day life. Like many people I had become over dependant on my phone (which of course has a clock and calendar) but now it’s nice to go out sometimes and know I’ve just got my watch. It’s simple and beautifully crafted; I think that’s part of the reason I really like it.
4. Isn't your method of recycling discarded military wear an old survival strategy from the post-war era? Would you work with material from current military disputes?
Generally speaking I prefer to use older fabrics as really I’m interested in re-using original garments. Often they may have been stored for decades before I find them; the exciting thing is that if you’re deconstructing original garments you have the opportunity to re-integrate original details. I work with some newer garments but tend to stay away from garments that I actually being used currently.
5. How did you add the patterns to your parachute jackets?
We use a hand silk screening process; it’s done with a natural ink and uses water based ink.
6.What is your reaction towards the resentment that some people hold towards military second hand clothes - is this matter even relevant for your target group?
We are very careful to make sure that any clothes we work with have been cleaned and are in good condition. I actually find that my customers often purchase items because they know the original origins of anything we are reworking.
7. Is the Berlin Fashion Week a significant event for international designers? Do you profit from it personally in any way
For my own collection we have just started selling in Berlin so I will travel to do shop reports and to get a better understanding of the German market. In the long term I think that Germany could be really interested in the work that I do.
8. What kind of people wear your clothes?
Independent people looking for something a little different.
9. Why are you always wearing one of your Caps?
Ha, good question. Our Off-Cut Caps are made from scraps left at the studio; it’s nice to always have something on your person that represents the brand.
10. How many people do you need to execute your designs? Explain your unconventional musical choices at fashion shows.
Our team is still relatively small (10-15 people on a busy day) but I’m very proud of the way the company has grown. In our design studio I work alongside some very talented individuals who help to get the collections together and I’m also proud of the ongoing work I do with Swiss graphic designer Regis Tosetti and music maker Toot! The music that you’ll hear at our shows or in most of the films is made from recordings at our studio; the noises of machines, fabrics and even the garments themselves are looped together by toot! to make incredible music… it’s another extension of the idea of “Remade”.
Your question …
I’ve only got one evening in Berlin (when I visit Bread and Butter), as experts what’s the one thing you think I shouldn’t miss?
Our recommendation: Start with dinner at Cookies Cream, the only vegetarian Club/Restaurant in Berlin (www.cookiescream.com), then head to KTV - a new club on Chausseestraße 36 in Mitte (www.ktv-berlin.com). If you've got any energy left over, don't forget to pay the infamous Berghain a visit, where you can groove to electronic beats until the wee morning (or late afternoon) hours.