Known not solely by fashion folk, Cottweiler confidently wanders the worlds of contemporary art, film and music. Some would say that the brand is best known for designing the outfits for FKA Twigs’ first tour, and although the label maintains a working relationship with her — arguably one of the UK’s most forward thinking artists — their ability to design collections that stay strictly within their meticulously mono-tonal sportswear aesthetic, while drawing upon different codes from different sub-cultures each season, is what has sustained their position as one of the UK’s most forward thinking streetwear houses. Cottweiler seems to have a nose for the coolest — not in the contrived hipster sense, but in a sense that leaves one feeling as if they are really seeing something unique happen. Before they drop their AW16 collection this weekend, we managed to grab some insider info from them: whether wading through mud or collaborating with contemporary artists, it is hard not to be excited by both what has been, and what is yet to come for Cottweiler.
LCM PROFILE – COTTWEILER
Meet Matt Dainty and Ben Cottrell – the driving force behind one of London’s most exciting streetwear brands.
You guys have received a great deal of hype over the past year or so thanks to some high-profile fans like Skepta and Twigs. I’m sure this has been mainly positive, but how have you dealt with a rapid increase in exposure outside of a fashion-insider community: has it been at all negative?
We haven’t really experienced anything negative. We have been working on COTTWEILER for longer than people have seen it publicly so for us it has been quite a gradual progression which we think is perhaps easier to deal with than overnight success.
You’ve spoken before (and your clothes attest to this) about staying within a limited palate of colours – mostly black and white – do you find this self-imposition to be more liberating than restricting?
We definitely thrive on the limitations that are put on us as a small brand. These limitations have become part of our identity and the colour palette is part of this. We also like to create colour by layering semi transparent fabrics that can change their appearance depending on light. We feel it is important that our customers can buy from any season and make a look without being dictated by a seasons colour choice.
Do you think the streetwear-fashion-sportswear mash up which you guys do so well, and has been so popular for a while now, is something that’s moved beyond a passing trend and has real longevity now?
We don’t see what we do as a trend, we see it as being response to peoples lifestyles. Fashion has to be relevant for it to have longevity, it doesn’t matter how it’s categorised.
Outside of clothing culture and fashion, what inspires you?
Music, factual books and documentary photography
What are some of the influences behind this collection?
We had both been researching for several years a youtube fetish community that involves wading through mud fully clothed. We then decided to create our own imagery based on this by spending a day in the forest walking through deep muddy ponds wearing COTTWEILER archive pieces. We filmed it all ourselves and used the footage as the seasons’ mood board combined with other research about modern agriculture.
You’ve developed quite a trademark aesthetic, do you actively resist the “requirement” of designers to make drastic changes to your look each season?
We design very instinctively so we don’t consciously resist any requirements that might be put on us. It has to be a natural process. The collection grows and matures each season and we are always challenging and pushing ourselves to be better.
What’s next for the brand?
We have been art directing for some exciting new musicians and will be collaborating with contemporary artists.
You put together a one off installation in Berlin a few months back. As a place to work and show in, does London remain a place that inspires you, or are you tempted to move further afield?
Berlin was great because it was new territory for us and it’s much less fashion focused than London so we were able to show things in more of an art context. We like to tailor each project we work on according to location so theres always a new aspect depending on where it is. We would of course love to show what we do in so many other places but London will always remain a core part of our inspiration.
Lastly, what’s your favourite piece from the collection and why?
The waterproof synthetic sheepskin coat is one of our favourite pieces because its a new cut and fabrication for us.