There are great team-ups: Batman and Superman, Bonnie and Clyde, and Craig Green and Moncler. British-based Green has released his spring/summer 2021 Moncler Genius collection that wants its wearer to go forth and embrace the outdoors.
He tells Esquire about his relationship with Moncler, the presence of sculptures in the collection, and his love for art.
ESQUIRE: Let’s talk about your collaboration with Moncler, from the first project to the present. How has it evolved before the Genius initiative?
CRAIG GREEN: As a brand, Moncler is so direct about what they’re about, like their heritage, down jacket and wardrobe classics so it’s a brand that I really respect a lot. Take their iconic structure: regardless of the wearer, they strap these blankets around them, which led to that Moncler classic down shape. It’s amazing.
We’ve worked with Moncler for, I think, almost five years now, and it’s a collaboration that I really love. We first started with capsule releases for a year before working on the Genius initiative. I was the one player with the brand that is all about functionality at its core, which is something that we do a lot at my own label. We start with something that is very Moncler as an idea and then develop from that.
That changes every season. It’s like, okay, what can we do now? What can we do with a down jacket? What can we do with a Downfield outerwear? It sounds limiting but those limitations are part of the excitement. It’s more challenging because you have to come up with a padded jacket engineered in different ways. Like the first capsule that we did. The research that went into mountaineering was interesting as we were pulling out images and trying to find ideas that maybe others hadn’t looked at.
I think something clicked with the AW19 collection (which was about travel). What I thought was amazing about Moncler jackets was the protection they provide. And they look voluminous but what’s amazing about the tech is that we made garments that could be folded and packed smaller.
ESQ: What are the technicalities that go into making a Moncler down jacket?
GREEN: It’s quite a complex process. We deal with the fabric, stitch it together and inject the padding to get the three-dimensional shape. The process is quite difficult but it’s also a simple idea that we were working from.
Moncler is always about protection and it’s always about being outdoors—to be protected against the elements of nature. Instead of looking to having protection against the elements during winter, we find ways to be protected from the sun or the wind. It’s a different consideration but that has more positive energy.
It was always about being movement ready. That’s really what somersaults when you’re working with the wind and sea and mountain. One of the key outerwear pieces that we worked on has the lightest possible down injection. It’s injected into protected areas of the jacket and the fabric is just a single layer that allows the movement, and lightness as well. It’s about protection and lightness but different from what we do in winter with Moncler.
ESQ: Could you elaborate more about the concepts behind the latest Moncler Genius collection?
GREEN: Every collection always starts with this idea of, I guess, an idea of fantasy around it. When we worked on the collection, all I wanted to do was to be outdoors. And I kept thinking about how amazing it is to forget that as human beings we’re meant to be in nature. And that’s taken for granted. More than just for the idea or a concept, we want the reality of allowing you to be outside with a backpack for adventure.
It’s the first time we ever shot the line outside as well. Usually, we shoot everything in a studio or in a kind of installation space. For this season, it was really about how the outfits interacted with nature. It’s about finding that balance, that’s what’s right at the moment. It’s like embracing nature, embracing the natural world, but finding the possibilities in it as well. What’s amazing about nature is that it has the power to propel us forward. They are almost like sails, kites and tents, and the wind is the energy that gives them volume.
We shot this collection on an island called Osea. It’s an amazing place because it has one road that goes out into the sea onto the island, and at different points in the day it will be covered by the tide. This means you can only access the island one at a time, which is another amazing relation to the collection, whereby nature is controlling the time pattern of the shoot.
ESQ: In a way, it’s almost like drawing power from the outdoors.
GREEN: Rather than staying home, the clothing encourages us to be outside. At this moment, we want it to feel like the lightness of freedom. I’m working with the natural world around us because it’s not real; it’s almost like a fantasy on its own. Nature is an almost magical feeling for us at the moment.
ESQ: Besides the concept, your exploration into technical fabrics is another big joy of your work with Moncler. What are the technical fabrications that went into this collection?
GREEN: One of the fabrics that we featured heavily in the collection is micro ripstop. It’s very lightweight, has a sandpaper feeling, kinda dry, and is almost like a cotton. This is a fabric that’s traditionally used for constructing kites, tents and sails. The fabric was focused around lightness. Because of its hardware and quality, it feels like the fabric is made to last forever. Did you know that even if you rip a piece off from it, it can still function?
Even the stitches are traditionally used in the construction of kites and tents. It’s the kind of stitching that strengthens the seams. Even if the garments were to have an airy quality to them, we wanted to build it strong and safe.
The lightest nylon is sometimes stronger than the thickest fabric. It has the same kind of properties as the down jacket that it might seem delicate and light but protects you.
ESQ: You built a life raft for your latest collection, why do you like building sculptures for your campaigns? Why the conscious choice to use sculptures as a campaign image, rather than the outfits from the collection?
GREEN: I came into fashion differently than some people. I instantly fell in love with fashion because of the storytelling aspect of it. There’s always that humanity of our work, it’s about people. It’s about people’s bodies and dressing them. That’s the human aspect of fashion, which sometimes isn’t always found in art or other realms.
But what I love about fashion is that aside from making clothing, you can still make sculptures, you can do prints, you can build installations… I’ve always loved those aspects of storytelling. Maybe it’s not the smartest commercially but sometimes I think the story’s more important than the clothes. That might be a bad thing to say about Moncler but people buy into stories. They also buy into the clothes. Yeah, you know, the meaning behind the clothes is as strong as the garments themselves, so I think that’s why.
ESQ: How do you want to see your partnership with Moncler carry on?
GREEN: I’m not sure if I’m allowed to comment on that but… I still feel that there’s a lot we can do together. It’s been five years since we started and it still excites me every time we start on something new together. And we do work really well together.
ESQ: How were the sculptures created?
GREEN: That has always been a really important aspect of my work. At the same time as we’re developing collections when we think about sculptures and installations and the storytelling aspect as well as the clothing. For this season, we made the inflatable boats as [though they were] actual boats; they could float on water.
This time the process into it is a bit more technical. We had all kinds of 3D renders and each inflatable piece was made separately, all built in London. We were like, is it going to float? Or is it not going to float? Luckily, it did.
We worked with a group of rowers and athletes for the campaign. We wanted it to feel like an adventure. The athletes had to wear safety equipment on the boat because of the strength and the pressure of the water and the waves.
ESQ: Where do you keep all the sculptures?
GREEN: Those are currently in someone’s studio. They are quite huge but luckily they are inflatable so they are easier to put away. Most of the sculptures from the showroom are also here in our studio. Moncler keeps the ones from the installations and those are usually placed in shops, display windows and things like that. I mean they’re quite big and we probably need a warehouse, else we run out of space soon.
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