Jonathan Anderson, the designer for Loewe (LVMH) and the brand of the same name, born in 1984, is an exemplary case of a designer who accepts the present but reinterprets it in the light of absolute and hyperactive respect for craftsmanship, leather, and the desire to enhance real, not virtual, materials. Here is his story and his thinking
Jonathan Anderson, the paladin of craftsmanship. It could be the title of a film or a novel that could tell the story of one of the most brilliant talents on the current fashion scene. So brilliant that, according to insiders, he would be the ideal and least risky choice to replace Virgil Abloh as creative director of menswear at Louis Vuitton. Why? Simple. His passion for craftsmanship and accessories are substantial assets for the role he could fill.
Creating a different materiality
Jonathan Anderson, born in 1984, is a real player. Not just for his composed dialectic, whispered Irish accent, piercing blue eyes, and laid-back sweatshirt, jeans, and trainer style. Above all, he is good at it because of his creative flair and hyperactive thinking. Those who followed the last Milan fashion week cannot forget the (real) grass grown on coats, sweatshirts, trousers, and trainers worn by the models in the fashion show of the brand he leads: Loewe. A provocation? Up to a point, since, says Anderson, ‘everyone is looking for how to do something in the Metaverse. Perhaps it would be more interesting to work on how to create different materiality‘.
The premise to be made is that Anderson (who also developed his eponymous brand, as well as the style of Loewe) has never been a fan of digital if we want to use a politically correct expression. “I’m not scared of technology; let’s be clear. I even made an NFT for charitable purposes. The point is that fashion belongs to that sphere of knowledge and feeling represented by the same emotional heritage that has allowed art to remain constantly modern.
Whereas technology, with time, becomes compulsorily obsolete’. And here, Jonathan strikes the first blow. And immediately delivers the second: ‘NFTs are nothing more than financial speculation of blockchain, bitcoin or ethereu investments. Mind you, and I am not claiming that making money is not an art, quite the contrary. It’s just not fashion, that’s all. They are not ideas. They are economic speculations. Sure, technology is running much faster than fashion, but this should not be at the expense of a product that takes time to be made well by good craftsmen.
The Craftsman’s Song
Jonathan Anderson could write the Canticle of Craftsmanship like a modern-day Saint Francis of Assisi. It is no coincidence that when he was hired by LVMH in 2013, his mission was to transform the Spanish leather goods company, Loewe, into a synonym for global craftsmanship in the digital age. ‘What we sometimes forget,’ claims the Northern Irish designer, ‘is that an industrial handbag is fundamentally made by people. And no matter how much our society has grown, it is impossible for us to manufacture a bag completely from scratch, without any human contact’.
A daily miracle
Craftsmen are the creators of a miracle they repeat daily: making an idea concrete. Giving shape to a design. For example, Anderson says that sometimes they are the ones who suggest what he should do. Of course, “because they know how to work a material like leather,” he explains. “Their skill has been passed on from generation to generation”. Not surprisingly, ‘hiring people to make bags is very complicated because it takes years of practice’.
Four quotes to understand Jonathan Anderson
The first. “The most important lesson of the pandemic is that we have to think even more globally than before, that we are more connected than we thought. And that fashion has to be for everyone”.
The second. “The forced breaks were incredibly stimulating. I explored the world by staying at home, reading art books, and watching TV series”.
The third. “What is my daily source of inspiration? My parents’.
The fourth. “Luxury must change its approach. You cannot present an idea of ‘uniqueness’ and ‘craftsmanship’ if it is only a mass-produced product.” (mv)
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