Inside the Britten Laboratory
Taken from Lovage Issue One:
How was From Britten P/L born? What sets you apart from other menswear designers?
As brothers we were always going to do something together. It is an extension of ourselves and how we’ve always worked with each other, like an extra limb. What sets us apart is probably that we’re brothers and very much in sync (you should see us dink on a razor scooter). But we have a slightly different approach to the same task, which helps strengthen each others ideas.
Can you describe your creative process as designers?
We get an idea. We fight. We get another idea. We fight. Then we agree on the next idea, and it grows from there. We’ve developed a way of working together that comes from growing up together. It comes from bouncing ideas around and talking a lot of theories and doing a lot of research. Over lunch. And dinner. Pretty much all the time.
Was there a particular reason behind the decision to show at Australian Fashion Week this year instead of in Melbourne, where you’re both from?
We made the decision to show at MBFW this year to expand our reach beyond Melbourne. LMFF is aimed at the consumer, but in order to get the consumer you need the buyer, which is where MBFW comes in. We work in a niche market and Australia is small. Melbourne is tiny.
Whilst we are based in Melbourne, our market is global. Since showing at MBFW, we were approached by Totem Fashion, which is an agent based in Paris that have other amazing labels like Juun.J, Julius, Bernhard Willhelm and Paco Robanne amongst others. We will be presenting our next collection at Paris Men’s Fashion Week in Jan next year.
And are there plans of expanding the brand to include womenswear in the foreseeable future?
We have played with the idea of doing a small ‘his and hers’ collection. Focusing on staples like a classic shirt. But it’s not something we on our radar at the moment. Maybe in a year or so.
Your most recent collection was called ‘Collection/Correction’, which is quite vague about the inspiration. What inspired the collection and how did you come up with the name?
The collection was based on the Australia subculture ‘Lads’. There are a few reasons that drew us to this. One being the age old idea that they are these ‘rebels’, and the contradiction of the way they dress – it’s almost a uniform. We loved the idea that it looks like they’ve stolen their dad’s clothes – which we translated into oversizing everything. And our caps, they’re actually from the government – so there’s a real juvie (correction) connection for the collection – which led to the name.
Aside from the ‘lads’, we had been looking into aerodynamics and the concept of ‘adding less’. By doing this we made sure that everything was flush on the clothes, zips are invisible, buttons are hidden, pockets are integrated into seams.
How does classic menswear come into the picture at From Britten P/L? Quality versus aesthetics—which is more important?
Classic menswear is really a starting and constant point of reference for us. Though we say classic menswear can be anything from the original function of a trench coat to cycling gear from the 70’s. We like to look at every detail and assess how and why it has been incorporated into the design. Once you understand and respect that, you can work within certain self imposed restraints that allow you to come up with unexpected results. Quality is paramount. There is no beauty without either quality in fabrication, construction, detail or design.
Who is the From Britten P/L man?
He has nothing to prove.
Do you think Australian menswear has evolved from the time you began your own label to now?
The thing about menswear, in comparison to womenswear it changes quite slowly. Access and exposure to more options over the Internet has been the biggest catalyst for change and has sped trends up.
It seems like a few years ago everyone was chasing the masses by doing t-shirts with a print on it, but the mass market is entirely dominated by the usual suspects. There has been a focus by the smaller labels to producing original, progressive pieces that stand out amongst the crowd.
Are men more adventurous than before when it comes to style? Why?
Not necessarily. Throughout the majority of history, menswear has been quite adventurous – even the most adventurous of today’s outfits might appear conservative next to something from the 1700’s… Men wearing skirts is nothing new. It seems there’s a rediscovered appreciation for adventurous style. But I think it was always there, there are just more people aware of it and as a result probably feeling brave enough to do it.
And the final question that we’ve been asking all our interviewees this issue: what are your favourite ice cream flavours?
Alex: On a diet