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LCM Interview: James Long

Moving in a more somber – yet equally as beautiful – direction than previous seasons, James Long’s collection drew from a palette of predominately navy, black, white and grey.

While all the trademark pieces of the celebrated NewGen recipient remained; gorgeous knitwear, this season embellished with metallics; leather and a hint of a biker silhouette, SS13 saw Long take a more tailored approach with slim cut shirts and panelled culottes.

With an international base of luxury stockists, James Long continues to develop into an international brand and this introduction of a more tailored vein see’s the designer branch out and continue to develop his product base, while retaining his laid back luxe aesthetic and core aesthetic.

Planet Notion: Tell me more about the inspiration behind the collection and how you felt putting it together?

James Long: Well, the collection started with Alan Vega who was in suicide and then went solo. That was my starting point and then from that I started to look at abacas and felt tips, which sounds a bit avant garde but that was where the squiggles kind of came from. I actually did the shorts first because they were a move on from last season’s wider leg and I kind of wanted the top of the body to look more athletic so I cut into the shoulder.

There’s all my key things; the leather, the knit, print, embellishment, they’re kind of the things I can include in each collection. And you know, the edit, we make 40 looks but we edit it down to really hone in what I want the collection to be and who I am and I think there’s quite a lot of pieces that are accessible in the collection.

PN: Talking about key pieces, your knitwear is one of your most celebrated aspects and something that’s really strong every season. What is it about knitwear that captures you and make you want to keep doing it?

JL: I find that weird that I’m known as a knitwear designer…

PN: Not as a knitwear designer persay, but it’s something that’s always talked about and admired a lot in your collections.

JL: I think I always thought very much about not categorising anyone in anything because I started with accessories, then I started started doing menswear, leather goods. So for me, it’s about creating the whole look and if that season this fabrics right, or that’s right, or if it’s a whole knitwear collection, it’s whatever your feeling’s relevant and that’s your job as a designer really. Like using your code, it would be ridiculous for me not to have my knitwear, my leather.

Also, now I’m stocked in Browns, Harvey Nicolls, LN-CC and selling around the world, I don’t want to go too crazy when I’m still such a young designer, I want people to know that can get that great jumper from me that season, you know. With menswear, although I try and push the boundaries a bit, I want my men to know they can really on me for that in a way.

PN: Being a young designer, what does it mean to you to show as part of a separate London menswear showcase?

JL: The main thing is to be on schedule with the rest of the world because it was just an afterthought on the end of womenswear before. Whereas if it’s on schedule, it’s more relevant to everyone.

PN: So you think British Menswear will be taken more seriously internationally now?

JL: Yeah, I’ve been kind of lucky because I’ve managed to get around it but this is just going to make it a lot easier and it’s going to mean that people will be able to blossom and go straight into things. And I’ve had a Lulu [Kennedy] supporting me for years and the British Fashion Council so I don’t know wether I am a younger designer any more. I’m young in terms of business but I’m not that young anymore! It feels like it’s been ages!

It’s amazing, it feels really right and it need to happen. London should be doing it really, it’s an important place for ideas.

PN: You’ve already got some amazing stockists, as you mentioned before. Where do you see your brand growing from here and how do you see it developing.

JL: Like I say, I just want to obviously grow the stockists and go into more areas but also I want people to know what James Long is and not be too all over the place. I always stick to what I know. Every time we’re trying something new, you know, we’ve never done the neoprene before but that was a nice texture to that.

I guess it has to be progressive for me as well otherwise I’ll get bored but ever since I started I never knew what was happening the next season. I got the first NEWGEN, the first Fashion Forward and now I’m out of that I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe it won’t be a show, I don’t know. You have to kind of think on your feet in a way.

Words – Brad Palmer

Photos – Kevin Chesnais






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