“If you don’t live it, how can you understand it” says the skateboarding, motorbike riding creative director.
Edwin’s former creative director, Rey Gautier, joined Element in 2014, leading the global design direction for the men’s and women’s lifestyle label. Between skateboarding and collecting archive garments for his clothing collection, he tells Drapers about the fun of collaborating and his signature skateboarding trick.
You’re creative director of Element brands. What does this mean?
It means listening, digesting and processing creative concepts that fit with the brand’s cultural references, and respecting the brand’s principles and applying those concepts to the seasonal collections across all categories. It also means spending time on a skateboard and outdoors in nature to fully comprehend the values of the brand in order to better deliver product. If you don’t live it, how can you understand it?
The brand collaborated with luxury sportswear label Griffin Studio for autumn 16. Tell us about this.
They may seem far apart on the face of it, product for product, as the target markets are so vastly different, but many elements actually join both brands, or philosophies, together. Having personally known Griffin for the best part of 20 years, the connection was natural. Element worked with Griffin to elaborate [our] outerwear collection using the uniquely talented [designer] Jeff Griffin to refine the pinnacle of this collection. This project was perfect for both brands, bridging fashion, outdoors and skateboarding in a few iconic pieces across outerwear, backpacks and footwear.
Element x Griffin collaboration
Why do collaborations?
Why not? It’s about connecting with like-minded thinkers and sharing principles. Why not share? Today’s youth communicates on a whole new level and they are quick to spot a fraud, so my personal belief is that collaborating is simply celebrating an exchange of shared principles, exchanging each other’s strengths to create something. Plus, it’s fun to do and is that not half the point?
What is your favourite part of your job?
Creativity, people and willing to take the risks.
And the least?
Un-creativity, and people’s unwillingness to take risks – measured or unmeasured.
What is your creative process like?
It’s varied. It all starts with a few intensive and creatively inspiring days locked in a space with the Element founder[NAME?], where we work on concepts. Then the global team get together to turn the thought process and creative ideas into structured from, from which there is a line architecture formed taking into account a huge amount of creative and factual business information. This is where I gain the most pleasure creatively, in those first few days of uncontrolled conceptual thinking and designing.
How do you stay inspired?
By listening, keeping an open mind, ignoring ego, allowing myself not to be influenced by something if I do not genuinely feel it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be true to who you really are.
You’re surrounded by clothes all day. Do you enjoy shopping?
No. I never liked clothes shopping. It’s not what interests me. I like what influences the creating of a garment. I have literally always worn the same kind of clothes since I was a kid, they just became slightly better quality and a little bigger.
What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
I have a decent collection of archival garments that serves as constant and continual reference. I think the one that I have the most attachment to personally is a jacket painted by an artist-friend of mine. Any maybe some old skate T-shirts I have kept for 20-odd years.
If you weren’t working in fashion what would you be doing?
Probably working on creating some self-sustainable farm and drawing a lot. It’s sort of where I am heading with my family at some point down the line.
What do you do to switch off from work?
Spend time with my family, my wife. We have four children, so we have plenty to do together. Read a lot, skateboard, ride my motorbike.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
I am really tall.
What’s your signature skateboard trick?
Signature trick is going home broken.