It’s no secret that designers don’t just need to know about constructing clothing anymore—if anything, they need to be psychologists, marketing experts, business minds, fortune tellers, and makers. One designer uniting all these aspects under his own name with what often appears to be astonishing ease is British multi-talent Jonathan Anderson. Since founding his own brand JW Anderson in 2008 he not only won men’s and womenswear label of the year at the fashion awards in 2015 and was appointed creative director of Loewe two years prior, but can, as of last year, also add another accomplishment to this already impressive CV: Curating his own exhibition, Disobedient Bodies, at The Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire last year.
It’s this distinct interest in realms way beyond the rulebook of fashion that has quickly set the London College of Fashion graduate apart—and that has again served him especially well for his newest collaboration with Converse, which saw the ceramic works of American artist Ron Nagle inspire a variety of Chuck 70s. Released last Monday and furnished with the title Toy, the collection highlights, in true Anderson manner, the notion of collecting—be it souvenirs, sneakers, or, in the designers’ case, art.
Often described as a curator even more so than a designer, Anderson is a master in pulling and picking from different creative sources, an extensive knowledge and profound interest in design of any kind at the base of his creative output. Be it for Loewe or under his own name, by positioning his clothes and collaborations in a context so close to art the designer has quickly established a sense of intellectualism surrounding his collections. Anderson often is literally placing them in gallery-like environments or his workshops, a concept entailing the spaces dedicated to the designer, like shops or pop-up projects, constructed in collaboration with different artists of his choice—like photographer Ian David Baker, ceramicist Giles Round, or director Larry Clark.
The campaign imagery for his fourth collaboration with Converse is reminiscent of precisely this approach to fashion as an object and footwear as a new form of a covetable and collectible item—if not currency. Captured on pedestals and in the typical white cube environment one would associate with a gallery, Anderson’s approach to the shoes may have been playful, but it is again his profound engagement with every topic he works with that stands out. Taking the collection’s backstory into account, it becomes strikingly evident that Nagle’s ceramics were chosen by Anderson consciously and carefully, for the designer is approaching, or should we say curating, his creative projects just as he is his personal brand: With distinct awareness of how the strong characters he associates himself with, be it Nagle, Converse, or any other creative counterpart, can also significantly shape our perception of himself.
JW Anderson x Converse is available here