When it comes to the sustainability aspect of fashion, there aren’t many who could compete with London-based designer Christopher Raeburn. Known for a Remade, Reduced, Recycled credo in all of his collections, the Royal College of Art graduate is not interested in following the fast fashion path of the industry. Through his recent collaboration with Timberland, he has found a brand that aligns with his philosophy and allowed him to create a collection of reworked and recycled vintage Timberland garments alongside Raeburn’s very own twist. INDIE met the designer at this year’s Bread&&Butter by Zalando. Surrounded by a grass-plastered Timberland booth that offered bag-making and planting workshops, we talked about eco-friendly fashion and the importance of true craftmanship.
Let‘s talk about your collaboration with Timberland. Why do you think that you as a designer and the brand are a good match?
When I was studying at the Royal College of Art in London, Timberland was really well-known for their Earthkeeper policy. They had always approached their growth in a responsible way and this already appealed to me at that time. For my own company, we also only do three things – we either remake, reduce or recycle. I think it‘s quite a nice symmetry and alignment. Another convincing point was that they gave me complete freedom to work on the collection and for the space at Bread&&Butter. I was able to bring a lot of the learnings of my own company into the project.
You incorporated old Timberland garments that you found at fleamarkets into the collections. Can you tell us a little bit more about that story.
We sourced them from a lot of different places, we took pieces from Timberland from the 1980s and 90s, deconstructed them and reworked them. We took some of the original items to our studio and then completely deconstructed them and remade them into show pieces for the collection. And then from there we also did recycled pieces, at a more accessible price point, but still fitting within the same philosophy. I am really proud to have my own utility space, my own studio where I can make very high quality items.
Remade, Reduced and Recycled are also the main themes in your own collections. Do you remember when you first discovered the importance of sustainability?
All the way through my education, particularly at the Royal College, I was always re-using original items, since it was quite difficult if you wanted to buy the original fabric on a row. What fascinated me, was that you already had something that was really authentic, that had a story behind it. There were all of these garments that had been made and often had never been used, so the interesting thing for me was actually finding those original pieces and reworking them instead.
Your designs are very practical and inspired by outerwear. Where does this outdoor aspect stem from, being a designer that lives in London and also works in a rather urban environment?
I think it‘s a very relevant theme because although most of us are now living in cities, many still enjoy nature and that energy of being outside and the way that I design really embodies that. In fact, I grew up in the South-East of England, in the middle of the countryside. It‘s quite a nice blend to live in a city now, but coming from a more rural area. And ultimately, everyone‘s looking for functionality and style – that‘s what I try to bring through my clothing.
You offer workshops, not only here at Bread&&Butter, but also in your studio. Where do you see the importance of having the skills to make things on your own?
For me, it‘s really, really important to be teaching craft, quality and skill. And finally, giving back because we‘ve been really fortunate to grow a great community that is supportive of my business and of course, the same for Timberland. It‘s a good way to meet real people and telling and showing them that good things need some time to be made. What people at my workshops are doing is all about slowing down to that craft, to quality in general – that is what we are aiming to teach them.
Do you have a special place that you go to when you need some inspiration?
I am so lucky to live in London and the Victoria & Albert Museum is always an inspiration. But whenever I travel to any city, I always go to the museums and art galleries. It doesn‘t matter where it is, it can be Berlin, Paris or Tokyo – you can get inspiration from anywhere.
Do you have any tips for people who might have a smaller budget, but still want to live a sustainable lifestyle?
There is so much that we can all do to help in our own way – whether it is to become aware of how you use plastics and how you could use less – or essentially just buying less but better. We all own too much stuff. It‘s about considering the choices that we make and trying to make responsible decisions – whether it is you as an individual, me as a designer, Timberland as a brand – we can all do those things and we can all help each other.
Do you have a favourite piece in your Timberland collection?
One of my favourite pieces is the sheer, almost ghost-like plastic parka that you can either wear like a raincoat or since it is a two-in-one piece, as a heavier, olive-coloured winter parka. I am a big fan of that practical process. And if I could choose two, I would also choose our sweatshirts which are all made from the original Timberland sweaters. I like the balance of colour, texture and technique in these.
The TIMBERLAND x CHRISTOPHER RÆBURN collection features 17 Mainline pieces and 11 Limited Edition Styles. The limited edition will be available from the end of October in selected Timberland stores, next to the mainline collection, that you can also find online at Timberland.com.