Cottweiler’s Menswear is so Great, Women Will Want to Have it
Derek Ezra Brown,
After years of covering their tracksuit logos with marker, Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty of Cottweiler have been producing the performance wear they always wanted to buy, free of logos with a heightened focus on fabric innovations and immaculate Saville Row trained tailoring. Their reference points such as Youtube subcultures and asexual fetish groups are otherwise unheard of, and the culmination has caused the fashion world to whole-heartedly embrace their fresh, electrical dystopian take on performance wear and sports after-care.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 14th issue of ODDA Magazine.
You have well-explored the mediums of film, static presentation, and runway. What is your favorite way to express the narrative behind your concept-driven collections? Will you continue to do presentations combined with visuals, or will you stick with conventional runway shows as you did last season?
We’re always interested in exploring new ways of interacting with our audience and it often depends on the project as to how it will be presented.
Our main aim is to provide a sensory experience in whichever form that may take.
How is the Cottweiler man changing? The collections had consistently been cold and masculine until the past two seasons, where I see ties with rave-culture and a playful, even glamorous touch of femininity.
Cottweiler is a product of our friendship and our experiences together so it matures as we do. In the past, we have definitely felt more aggression that was reflective of our situations at the time as young adults.
Over the past couple of years, we have been fortunate to have many new and positive experiences that influence our work and we have found more value in telling our story with a softer tone.
In this age of trends forming around depressed millennials and styling attitudes that derive from apathy, where does the active, holistic, and minimalist mantra of Cottweiler sit within that context? Would you say Cottweiler will never need to worry or be effected by trends, or is its aesthetic trending as well albeit in a smaller scale than the trends of luxe apathy and vulgar audacity?
We feel that our approach is more relevant to the future of lifestyle. We’re intrinsically part of social trends and being able to bring these to a wider audience in the form of an aesthetic can have greater influence. We wouldn’t say we are effected by fashion trends.
Big fashion brands played with having a sport-derived aesthetic for a few years at around 2011 in a very artificial, fad-based way, around the same time you and some of the other designers you may call your peers started. Did that moment, which is somewhat reoccurring on the runways of big brands, have any impact on Cottweiler and your peers?
The interesting thing is that other people’s perception of who our peers are has shifted several times since we started and since that ‘sport derived aesthetic’ has come and gone and evolved into something else.
Cottweiler was born from our friendship over 10 years ago and our identity has stayed true to itself throughout this period. In 2011, we started to wholesale as a business but the sports influences have been part of our identity for much longer when we were experimenting with film and installation.
Fashion has so well-accepted performance wear as a part of the industry, that they added an “Urban Luxe” category for the British Fashion Awards this year. Cottweiler would seem to be a shoe-in, but instead is nominated in the Emerging Menswear category. Do you believe Cottweiler has had an impact on fashion’s acceptance of performance-wear as luxury fashion?
We think it’s had an impact for sure. We think the reason for this though is our use and reference of many different types of menswear. From safety- wear to tailoring, we try to combine the best parts of these to make contemporary menswear. We also want to challenge people’s ideas of formality within sportswear.
Your references are tied with athletic fetishism in a clean, electrical world that feels very current. Do you consider any references from a similar moment shared in the 1990’s or are you inspired by any moments in fashion from the 1990’s?
We were both raised in the 90’s so it has an influence but we wouldn’t say were inspired by any fashion moments.
Your garments are tried and tested, even collaborated with chemical protective manufacturing and the like, to be useful for active, adventurous lifestyles imagined in chemical plants and pools of mud. Do you believe your customers find use in these innovations?
This is an inspirational starting point for us but our technical fabrication is made to be relevant to the wearer.
Many of our pieces are windproof, waterproof and breathable but only to what is necessary to our customer’s lifestyle. It’s really about balance.
You previously mentioned that your referencing of Youtube and fetish subcultures is tied to a deeper fascination with tribes. Where does this obsession with tribes derive from, are you trying to build a tribe of your own?
We’ve all experienced being part of some form of group throughout our lives and we’ve been specifically interested in dress codes within these groups. Our own social circle has had a huge influence on us through music, fashion and other art forms.
It’s been our common interests and ways of expressing ourselves that has formed our own group.
You and a designer I would consider a peer of yours both made a point that there needs to be a juxtaposition in luxe performance wear, your example being embroidery on technical fabrics. Why is contrast and conflict an important element when creating something fresh and aspirational? Perhaps you both made this point because performance wear may otherwise feel mundane?
Contradiction creates unpredictable and more original work. Again, this is reflective of our environments where natural and technology clash. Nostalgia and the human touch are things we think about when we create technical pieces. It connects the wearer to the familiar, which means you can introduce something new at the same time.
What role do each of you play for Cottweiler?
We pretty much share everything. We started and built the brand on our own so we learnt the business and manufacturing along the way.
Ben has more expertise in manufacturing techniques and product development from his years spent on Saville Row. Matthew has worked more on the Art Direction side but we design the collection together.
Derek Ezra Brown
Derek Ezra Brown is a young journalist and fashion stylist who travels the world in pursuit of creating thought provoking fashion shoots and designer interviews.
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