Trust CAT with your New World Order footwear jam.
CAT is one of those rare footwear brands to not only pick out and platform an uncanny array of graduate designers (the likes of Elise Ngobi and Mayada Khammu were both nascent discoveries), but offer them industry experience, creative breathing space and, woah, actual real world cashmoney.
For Fashion Your Future, its new project for A/W14, they teamed up with a number of London’s industrialists to head-scratch their way through the city’s young designing talent. Among the panellists, which includes Drapers’ Graeme Moran and the brand’s own Adam Green, are Wonderland favourites, British Fashion Council’s Martine Rose and designer Alex Mattssen. Submitters (more info here) are asked to send in illustrations of how they would re-imagine CAT’s Colorado boot silhouette. The winners will not only have their work shown on a London Collections: Men runway in February, but will be offered the chance to work alongside the house’s creative staff.
Wonderland caught up with Martine Rose and Alex Mattsson to chat through the collaboration.
Martine Rose:My collaboration with CAT has been ongoing since 1998, when they supported my very first catwalk show as part of MAN. We subsequently worked together for another four seasons, with three full collaborations that were stocked in Colette in Paris and ASOS. When they approached me to be part of this project, I was really excited! I have never worked with Alex before, but I‘m looking forward to it. The space they gave me is so rare in this industry. They completely supported my process and ideas, and facilitated them as much as they possible. I was really spoilt, it was an incredible luxury.
Alex Mattson: Martine Rose and James Long who have done it in the past. I was kind of the next in line. I needed shoes for a few A/W13 shows I was doing and they do work-wear type shoes, so that’s how I got in touch with them in the first place. In terms of creative freedom, I just drew the designs, around five in total, and they picked the ones they liked, and we put it all into the final design – it’s dream situation for a designer. At the end of the day, we are trying to make a product that’s going to work in a shop and sell and still be wearable.
Alex, you were asked to design a shoe for the project. The last time I spoke you, you were working some Mexican gangster-meets-Sergio Leone vibes into a collab with Zebra Katz. What were your key inspirations this time round?
AM: Good question. In the cuts and shapes I want to use tech fabrics; I want to do futuristic twists on work-wear. I’m inspired by the idea of inner-space in the human mind – the universe that’s inside your head that you only access when you’re meditating, or even in dreams. I started looking into all this stuff. I found an artist call Alex Grey who I’ve referred to in the past. He does Divine art, it’s not necessarily religious – it’s inner space. So as far as prints go they’re kind of psychedelic and dreamy. It’s mixed with a tech-work-wear foundation.
What are you looking for in submissions? Energy? Flare? Originality?
MR: A point of view mainly, but of course flare and energy help. As nothing is really completely original, I would be looking for an interesting interpretation of an idea that perhaps already exists. I want to believe it, basically. A sense of joy, too, is essential.
Did you guys enjoy working together?
AM: We haven’t worked together directly yet, but CAT has an amazing track record. I remember when Martine was working with them, it was great to see the kind of space she was given. It’s limitless – you can kind of do whatever you want. They are a massive company, they have all sorts of materials you need, anything you ask for, they have it. Any sort of hardware and stuff… It’s really exciting to work for a company that can make your ideas happen in a really nice, professional way and I could really see that in James’ and Martine’s previous work.
Words by Jack Mills