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My fashion life - Jeff Griffin

Baracuta Blue Label’s new creative director celebrates British heritage with his first collection for the brand

You are the new creative director of Baracuta’s Blue Label. Why did you decide to take the role?

I’ve known the brand for many years and collaborated with Baracuta in the past with my menswear label Griffin, so I knew the history and loved the iconic Harrington G9 jacket.

I had always known of [Baracuta owner] WP Lavori in Corso, Italy, with outerwear brands such as Woolrich [which it has the global licence for] and Barbour [which it distributes], so I’d always wanted to work with it. It has a real vision looking at protecting the Made in England core icons, but with the Blue Label it is also looking to the future to build new icons and to innovate.

What will you bring to the brand?

I think innovation, with a bold progression of the brand’s values, a devotion to Britishness, quality, and classic military features with a masculine silhouette, bringing them together to create a wearable and contemporary look.

Tell us about the autumn 14 collection.

The brief was great: five pieces to look at future icon styles and five pieces as a collaboration, with a strong Griffin style. I started with the youth culture of the mod generation. I loved the link to US military supplies, the fishtail parka, the 1950s US Arctic parka. Adding to the mix, I went on a road trip researching British fabrics and manufacturing.

What’s your favourite piece and why?

I’ve done a snorkel down parka, made with Harris Tweed and an Italian military nylon; it’s such a unique mix of two great fabrics. Maybe it will be the first winter Baracuta icon. Only time will tell. I love it.

You are concerned with British manufacturing and using British mills. Why is this?

There are two reasons. First, our government needs to think more about our future and being more sustainable in manufacturing, because we need skills and employment. I’ve watched our manufacturing die over the years without any investment or plan from our leaders. Even the factories still running are nothing like what I see abroad. Second, I always try to work with the best for quality and that’s why I use a lot of British and Italian fabrics. I don’t manufacture Griffin in England and I’m very clear about that, because I need high-tech machinery, bonding and welding and I need the luxury touch; the Italian handwriting with my British style. But we are making our core G9 Baracuta in three UK factories because they make it well. It’s like a Land Rover, it’s strong and well made and never changes.

What other brands do you respect from this point of view?

I respect any brand that loves quality, follows its DNA and doesn’t just follow a trend. It’s not just about who makes in England,

it’s about innovation and ideas. But if I had to give some names I would say Mackintosh, Christopher Raeburn, Barbour, Burberry, Nigel Cabourn, and Spencer Hart. There is a lot of talent here, but I would also love to be able to say Marks & Spencer; come on M&S, you could lead the way in rebuilding our infrastructure in manufacturing over here. The small companies can’t do this.

The trend for Made in the UK has been particularly popular over recent years - why do you think there has been this return to provenance?

If it wasn’t for the Japanese wanting Made in England there wouldn’t be anything here. The Japanese have been demanding Made in England for the past 20 years, while everyone in Britain seemed obsessed with making in China. There are a few reasons in menswear why it’s been a trend. First, there is a massive trend for buy local and artisan, which I feel started years ago in New York. In Britain we were slow on this movement and still seemed focused on celebrity and cheap throwaway clothing. Of course there were the deep thinkers who were looking for something real, quality and value for money as it would last a lifetime. This was the start of the heritage trend, which linked to the manufacturing story.

 

  • Graeme Moran

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