Tom Bottomley: How long have you been working with the G-Star brand and in what capacity?
Aitor Throup: I became creative consultant to G-Star in 2013. Through this period, I tried to have new points of view and constructive observations about the brand, capturing all the elements that I needed before I actually created a single piece. It took me about two years to design anything, because I first had to properly capture the essence of the brand, whilst helping align the brand’s message and output across all their platforms and departments.
TB: What do you think you’ve brought to the table design-wise?
AT: I have brought a lot of learnings from my own work to G-Star, and vice versa. I’ve encouraged us to think and work in a different way. For example, through the innovation lab that we set up last year: there we have the freedom to really experiment and push the boundaries of what G-Star is currently exploring. During my time as a consultant, I developed the concept behind London’s Oxford Street flagship shop, art directed the G-Star RAW a/w 16 advertising campaign, designed the 3D denim ‘Staq’ pant, created the ‘Motion’ concept and established the innovation lab and ‘Raw Research’ platform.
TB: When did you go full-time as executive creative director?
AT: Officially on 1 November 2016, but prior to this I had already been overseeing many different aspects of the brand as a whole. My transition from creative consultant to executive creative director was therefore an organic one. This exact title had not yet existed at G-Star, as I lead all design-led functions of the brand, from product design, to communications design, to retail and online design. To have the opportunity to help align all these incredible things in each department and to bring a new perspective is very exciting. I genuinely believe in the brand’s manifesto to become the definitive denim brand of the 21st century, so I aim to facilitate that through a really focused vision of doing things differently. I do feel a sense of responsibility, however it is truly a collaborative process between the entire G-Star team.
TB: What attracted you to the brand?
AT: It was really their ongoing devotion to experimenting, particularly with 3D denim and construction in the world of denim, and how they have had a unique approach to denim design by combining elements of art and objects into their output. When I first had the opportunity to meet the brand and look into the archives, I was really surprised by the amount of innovation that they had been involved in, that I hadn’t been aware of. What’s really interesting is how they have been brave enough to challenge the conventions of their genre throughout their history.
“Pharrell works as the ‘Head of Imagination’, with his role injecting creativity on all levels, from product and collections, to advertising and global business strategy.”
TB: What is your creative vision for the brand?
AT: It always has to start with pushing the possibilities of denim. I think denim is, and always will be, the main focus for the brand, but the real goal is for every single product category to always showcase newness. My vision is to continue the brand mission to redefine denim for the future, and that is just the beginning. I also have a vision of building the same approach towards innovation and the idea of challenging the conventions of all of the product categories that we develop at G-Star. We have been putting a lot of effort and passionate research into product design in general, particularly outerwear: like jackets, coats and womenswear. We are putting a lot of focus on the future. Shoes are something we are also investing a lot of energy into, building on the existing base that G-Star have developed so far, which is really exciting.
TB: What is the continuing work you do with Pharrell Williams?
AT: Pharrell works as the ‘Head of Imagination’, with his role injecting creativity on all levels, from product and collections, to advertising and global business strategy. I work closely with Pharrell to incorporate his design input into the collection.
TB: What will be the standout products from the G-Star brand under your guidance in 2017?
AT: We have some really exciting new developments and a couple that we already introduced in 2016, including the ‘Staq’ jeans and the ‘Motion’ concept. Some of these we are continuing in 2017, but there are quite a lot of new 3D denim designs that we are going to showcase. Primarily they come from the Raw Research capsule collection as it feeds into the general brand later on, but there are also other styles that have been developed outside of Raw Research within the general collection. There is also a lot of exciting new outerwear, restoration techniques on denim and a new approach to our graphic T-shirt design language, where we are really trying to capture the essence of what RAW means; the idea of being RAW, the idea of being democratic as a brand and also encouraging you to be true to yourself. We have a great way of expressing this through an exciting new graphical approach.