Men’s – Close To Nature Wherever You Are. Phipps AW20

The American brand named Phipps might not be the most “Parisian” and “fashion” of them all. But Spencer Phipps seems not to care. More importantly, since starting his label few years ago, he has been seriously devoted to sustainability (before it was “thing” for the industry). This season’s “Treehugger: Tales of the Forest” collection caught everyone by surprise with a collaboration that has to be Smokey Bear. Even the authorities at the U.S. Forest Service were perplexed at first, the designer said. But once the deal was signed, Phipps had decades of archives to riff on: Smokey turned 75 last year. Despite teen-camping nostalgia and authentic lumberjack style  – one of the models was, in fact, a lumberjack! – the designer noted that this collection was “a big step up in terms of luxury.” Placing a concern for nature within the luxury space is a serious challenge. To get there, Phipps said he tried to focus on suiting in a very smart way, sourcing cloth in northern England and paying close attention to details such as linings and buttons. He also used Steiff (the teddy bear brand) materials for sweatshirts and embellishment. “It’s biodegradable, very artisanal, and it has a luxury appeal,” he mentioned. “It’s not faux fur made from plastics. It’s a more traditional way of working.” Another favourite: the forest shaman spirit behind the huge blankets worn as shawls and whimsy, wooden “accessories”. Phipps’ commitment to slow fashion also prompted him to introduce what he’s calling his “gold label” – a range of curated vintage pieces, embellished and elevated to “treasure items” with a stylized gold star or forest ranger patches. That studied mashup included market-found jeans and flannels, heirloom pieces, and even a pair of jeans Phipps’s mom made back in the 1970s. “I’m just focusing on the lifestyle of sustainability. I’m not making you a new plaid shirt because there are so many out there already, and they’re beautiful,” the designer said. If only the big brands got the memo…

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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