LONDON – He’s no longer full-time at Timberland, but Christopher Raeburn has no shortage of work.
The designer spends his time disrupting military storage and warehouses in his hunt for excess inventory; transform airplane parachutes into romantic dresses and transform 100% silk vintage aviator cards into jackets and dresses.
In the meantime, he has taken on the new role of general collaborator at Timberland, having stepped down from his role as global creative director earlier this month. It also has a new store on Marshall Street in London’s Soho; a bigger headquarters in Hackney, east London, and countless plans in the pipeline.
In an interview, the designer said he always works closely with Timberland on innovation and the Earthkeepers by Raeburn footwear collection. He also highlighted his own collection of clothing and accessories, made from repurposed military clothing and supplies, or recycled polyester, organic cotton and merino wool.
At the beginning of lock here in the summer of 2020, Raeburn also presented Raefound, a capsule collection of original military parts and unworn purchased at government offices in the UK and continental Europe.
“What could be more radical than doing nothing?” Raeburn said in an interview, referring to the Raefound, items he selects himself and goes through quality control before adding his label.
Prices start at around 35 pounds for a camo bush hat, while t-shirts cost 79 pounds and an all-purpose parka costs 299 pounds.
“We do as little work as possible on the garments and we keep the prices low,” the designer said, adding that while Raefound is a popular collection, it was “split” when it launched.
He said consumers often ask why they couldn’t just swing by the local army and navy surplus store and pick up similar items. “I tell them ‘Sure, please do! There are hundreds of thousands of pieces out there, clothes that already exist. Why not buy it? »
Raeburn says the surplus clothing hanging in her shop has the advantage of being new, never worn, and comes in full-size sets. They are not just unique pieces.
Raefound is also proof that fashion isn’t the only industry with an oversupply problem.
Defense ministries and military bodies of countries regularly have to produce several garments and uniforms for tens of thousands of people. The specs on these garments change over the years, but nothing gets discarded.
At the Marshall Street store, Raeburn is currently selling items such as Yugoslav military mountaineer jackets. How old must they be, given that Yugoslavia ceased to exist in the early 90s?
Despite their vintage, they are certainly cool with oversized hoods, places for storage of sticks and branches, and a delicate pointillist camouflage print with khaki spots, green and dark brown.
other remains of military Raeburn scarf include card featherweight silk 1950s Pilots and others carried the military if they would find themselves behind enemy lines and need to escape quickly.
Silk is sturdier than paper, water resistant and easier to carry and hide than a traditional card.
The scarves are printed with delicately detailed maps of Northern Europe and the former USSR. Raeburn has pieced the jackets together in zip front and made to measure items such as shirtdresses, from the supply he’s purchased.
The Marshall Street store may be small, but it’s a powerful example of sustainable fashion retail.
It’s filled with inhalers made from (and stuffed with recycled polyester); bags made from antigravity suits for pilots and long dresses fashioned from what appears to be large silk ribbons, but which are actually strips cut from old airplane parachutes.
These dresses hark back to Raeburn’s debut collection in 2009 when he transformed a 28-foot pilot’s parachute into eight garments.
The designer said the new store, at 2 Marshall Street, not far from Carnaby Street, has been a “lightning rod” for the brand.
“We needed an outpost in central London, an opportunity to speak directly to the people,” said the designer, adding that the store works “in tandem” with its newly expanded space in Hackney, which houses workshop and technical laboratory of the mark, wholesale showroom. , And archive. It also serves as a retail store.
Raeburn said more standalone stores could be in the works, possibly in mainland Europe, while its various brand collaborations will also continue. Lately he has been working with Aesop on fabric bags to pack or transport soap and beauty products.
Raeburn remains close to the Timberland team, and said they will continue to innovate together.
Timberland Earthkeepers describes his collection of shoes by Raeburn as representing “the highest level of eco-innovation”, with soles made from 75% renewable sugarcane and responsible natural rubber from trees.
Regarding his own brand, Raeburn said he aimed to produce “a truly circular and recyclable product”; work more with regenerative agriculture, and produce in small batches, with as little waste as possible.
He produces the collections in Europe, but also in small London factories, working with “best-in-class” manufacturers.
He will never stop searching for all those forgotten piles of clothes, blankets, supplies and displaying them proudly inside the store. “We don’t take anything for granted and we just want to do things,” he said.