Gaze at BERTHOLD, the utilitarian menswear brand free from defined shapes and inspired by art.
A BERTHOLD garment is easily identified on the rails. It is utilitarian, with a high-functionality aspect, and beautifully well-made. Free from defined shapes and limiting fabric structures, BERTHOLD’s pieces are intricately structured with exceptional attention to detail. BERTHOLD’s utility clothing is anything but standard-issue.
Designed by Austrian-born Raimund Berthold, who received his MA from Central St Martins, the brand is driven by utilising inventive design and fit over fashion; the form and design of his garments is more important than any menswear trend. BERTHOLD’s inspiration for his collections can be found anywhere and everywhere, with every object having the potential to pose as BERTHOLD’s next influence. For previous collections, he has taken a life jacket from World War Two (which stimulated visions of drowning for him) and his personal memory boards to spark an idea that will then lead into his sketching. These unusual inspirations are what make BERTHOLD garments unique – there is no trend aspect or overly fashionable qualities, leaving the high-functionality and no-frills clothing to do all the talking.
For his new collection, BERTHOLD references Anish Kapoor’s Guggenheim installation. His artistic inspirations bleed into every aspect of every garment he creates, from his colour palettes (primarily black and white) to the mix of natural and synthetic fabrics, including neoprene, nylon, wool, cotton, and for this season a light-weight engineered leather. The BERTHOLD aesthetic is a visual representation of their design process – fluid, natural, high-functioning and beautiful.
Here, we talk to Berthold about his inspirations for the collection, why he loves LC:M and his ‘fit over fashion’ approach.
Talk to us about this collection and its inspiration.
I’m always drawn to volume. For winter these are cocooning and dramatic but I wanted to translate a sense of ease for summer; larger volumes that are much lighter. The research began with an old French army cavalry coat, which we wrapped and placed on the body in lots of different ways to create new silhouettes. Sketching into these ideas, the collection developed to look at how volume can be folded and tucked away.
Why do you employ a largely monochromatic colour palette – with key accents – and what inspired this season’s colours?
I don’t like to mix a lot of colours into the collection. It’s too playful and busy for the shapes I like to work with. There is so much colour in our surroundings and I guess I prefer to stick to monochrome because it feels calmer and more controlled. In terms of colour for the new collection, central to the mood board was an image of Anish Kapoor’s Guggenheim installation ‘Ascension (Red)’ from 2010. The sense of a solid, dense colour dissolving and permeating the air really inspired the overall tone for spring. The palette of red, greige, steel and black is in the same way as Kapoor’s piece, unsettling yet upbeat.
Why do you love being part of LC:M?
It’s a brilliant platform to showcase your work in a city that is fresh and energetic. LC:M is taken seriously by international press and buyers and it is important that we are a part of that. BERTHOLD wouldn’t be BERTHOLD if it wasn’t in London.
Tell us about your ‘fit over fashion’ approach.
My research and design process is very fluid. There aren’t many fashion influences to begin with; I collect images and sketch until something emerges that excites me. Then I will work very closely with a pattern cutter to refine, reshape and refine again until a garment is as good in fit and silhouette as we can get it. Presenting it within the context of LC:M with the boys, the styling, the music and set brings it all to life.
Last season you employed a blend of synthetic fabrics alongside natural wools and cottons; tell us about this collection’s textiles and why you chose to work with them.
There is always a mix between natural and technical – I love how they interact. There is lightweight engineered leather this spring, very technical performance and outerwear fabrics, summery woven cotton and jersey and a lightweight wool. The knitwear is made from a very interesting and modern manmade yarn that has a structural elegance to it.
Tell us about who you envisage wearing this season of BERTHOLD.
I am constantly surprised by how even people I know very well, wear and style things we have done. I love it. It’s a big part of any fashion designer’s process – to see your clothes in real life, on real people, worn in a realistic setting. We recently just shot autumn/winter 2016 for our new e-commerce site and it was good for me to work on styling the collection in a more relatable, natural way with a customer in mind.
Which non-fashion elements inspired this collection (music, cinema, art, pop culture…)?
The colours were inspired by Anish Kapoor’s exploration of the colour red, but my mood board is always full of images of art work. My Instagram is full of more art than it is fashion, which might become a problem at some point!
How do you see BERTHOLD developing in future seasons?
The collection has been growing steadily and I’m now feeling more and more confident about what it is I want to say with the clothes. We are starting to refine our staple pieces, oh, and expand our accessories offering. The launch of our e-commerce site later this summer is going to be an exciting (and terrifying) development too. The label is growing, but then so am I.