Saturday, 12 April 2014

Straight Talking: T.Lipop x Frank151

Tom Lipop creative director of London’s much-loved menswear label T.Lipop surpasses any stereotypes people have of straight men in the fashion industry. It is also the first menswear label to collaborate with cult British store River Island with a 16-piece capsule collection, which launched last month – pretty impressive. Functionality is what drives the label and is at the forefront of all collections that set to defy the notions of traditional menswear garments – making fashion interesting again. It is no wonder then, that Tom ever became interested in fashion; designing football kits from a young age, the acclaimed designer sets out to create ‘Progressive technical men’s tailoring with a less is more aesthetic’ (tag line credit to Tom himself). Luxury fabrics meet innovative approaches to pattern cutting, resulting in the combination of sport and tailored silhouette’s. The labels’ pared-back style is refreshing and reflective of its savvy creative director. Like most guys, Tom is into football (soccer if you like) and also hold’s a Ski instructor’s certificate, which was until now, a secret. I caught up with the designer to find out just how he feels about fashion, his ever-growing brand and his reception in industry.

Tell us a bit about T.Lipop and who is behind it?

The T.Lipop team is made up of myself as Creative Director and Eser Aydemir, my business partner and Managing Director. The eponymous label, T.Lipop was born out of a desire to see cut and function above all else and something different from the London crowd. A kind of modernisation of a traditional art!

What did you feel was missing in menswear that T.Lipop makes up for?

We are very much focused on creating a brand that is timeless and here for the long haul. The brand centers its values on real luxury, using beautiful, rich cloths, fine construction, scrutinous detailing. I think it’s wrong when a designer brand uses a cheap cloth, a basic pattern and sticks a name on it calling it designer – It’s deceiving to the consumer and something I think happens far too often. I think with our focus on these values and staying true to ourselves we can, in the future, rival the more established houses.

We know you like football and other manly things, but what is it like being the straight designer in fashion, an industry that holds such strong stereotypes?

To be honest, in the past I would have said the industry was full of stereotyped men and women, but the industry has progressed and is constantly evolving, I would say it would now be prejudice to think this. I’m good mates with most of the London men’s designers: Agi & Sam, Matthew Miller and William Richard Green to name a few; none of these guys are gay and look where they are in the industry. We all play 7-a-side together and they are all typical lads who happen to work in fashion through love of design but love football, like to party and socialise and have typical male hobbies. They just have an understanding of how they see the fashion industry moving forwards and the backbone required to deal with stereotypical view. It’s about designing real clothes for real guys.

We are all over the word minimalism by now but how would you best describe the brands’ aesthetic?

I hate the word minimalism; it’s so overused; it falls into the category of words like luxury, high end, shabby-chic. We tried our hardest to avoid using this word hence the ‘less is more aesthetic’ tag line. For us, minimalism isn't about producing a garment with a clean look, it’s about maximising the potential of a garment through the deconstruction - removing unnecessary seams, perfecting cut, creating a garment that has all of the functions for purpose whilst maintaining the brands signature in an effortless way. 

I understand you don’t use pockets in your work, why is this and what do you suggest men use an alternative?

Actually this is only something we do in tailoring. When I was 11, my father bought me my first suit and he told me not to unstitch the lower pockets, ‘you don't want to ever put anything in them, it breaks up the silhouette’. This is something that stayed with me throughout my life, for me pockets don't add to the garment if they are there so why not remove them and have a beautiful clean garment that maintains its silhouette and looks timeless. If you want to carry more than a phone and wallet, then it’s time to get yourself a T.Lipop bag or document holder!

What kind of guy would wear your clothes?

The guy who appreciates form and function, has a keen eye for attention to detail, wants to look sharp and be noticed for the right reasons.

Do you have any style icons and have they influenced your work?

It’s got to be both Steve McQueen and James Dean. Both were guys of class and effortless cool, I guess that influences the way I design to some degree.

Do you still feel British tailoring is still incredibly an important part of fashion today?

It’s the backbone of the whole industry. The reason why we dress the way we dress. To me there isn't anything more important to the fashion industry than the historical lineage of British tailoring.

You have worked for some amazing designers (Henry Holland and Nathan Jenden) what did you gain from these two vastly different experiences?

From Henry (Holland), it was maybe too much responsibility as a first job, it was hard to learn technically when I was pretty much looking after a team of five interns. I guess I learnt a lot about the industry with a very hands on approach at House of Holland. Nathan Jenden was different and very much about the cut and finish. We had the opportunity to experiment but if it wasn’t perfect, it was redone. This is something I have carried through [to my own label] whereby I would rather not have the look than put something out that is just 'ok'.

What do you love most about London?

The amount of talented people all congregated in one place doing their thing and inspiring everyone around them. The architecture and heritage is pretty decent too!

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