It is not often that a collaboration comes round that we can consider truly surprisingly–case in point, this capsule collection from American designer, Greg Lauren and luxury nautical lifestyle label, Paul & Shark. After all, it seems like every other day, we see the launch of yet another collaboration between brands. The inundated of collaborations might have lost its lustre by now, the great ones, like this effort between Greg Lauren and Paul & Shark, are birthed from the unexpected coalescence between two unlikely partners.
The collection sees a clashing of two different ethos of creation–deconstruction and amalgamation, bohemia and cutting edge technology. While on their own, they speak two different design language, where Greg Lauren and Paul & Shark met, is their mutual appreciation of knitwear. The collection sees knits transformed into tailored suits, oversized rugby shirts, and kimono jackets. But their work didn't stop there, took a deep dive into Paul & Shark archive and created a beautiful tapestry of coats, hoodies, shirts and trousers of an unexpected pairing of fabrics. Standout includes denim and down jacket vest, a patchwork of clashing plaids shirting and denim and jersey overalls.
We speak to CEO of Paul & Shark, Andrea Dini and Greg Lauren on the inception of their partnership, if there were any restrictions when working together and what they learnt from working together.
ESQ: How did this collaboration between Greg Lauren and Paul & Shark come about?
GREG LAUREN: I received a call that Paul & Shark was interested in working with me to develop a fresh take on the collection. I asked: “Paul & Shark? Do they know what I do? Have they seen my collection?” The reply I got was: “Yes, Greg, and they want to work with you.”
I think it’s one of the collaborations that doesn’t seem right at first, may not even seem to make sense, but then you realise it is absolutely perfect. So we met and talked about the collaboration, and I promised him that I would respect and protect the heritage and the DNA of it. And maybe destroy it a little bit. (laughs) When we were at the factory, Mr Dini showed me this beautiful cashmere coat and I cut it in half.
ANDREA DINI: We met last October in Paris. Apart from Greg’s work, he is such a great gentleman. It was a short meeting and he was wearing a fantastic piece of knitwear made by him, which could easily be part of the heritage collection from Paul & Shark. It was an easy discussion. I shared what I wanted to achieve with this project and he shared his vision and what he could do for our brand, and we shook hands.
ESQ: Were there any restrictions?
ANDREA DINI: No, our foundations were quite similar. In a way, I felt that he was a bit shy about being too destructive, but I wanted him to help me see my brand in a totally new light. The most important part for me is that I am learning what I can do with Paul & Shark and how far I can push it.
ESQ: Do you think that you have gone far enough or would you like to push it even further?
ANDREA DINI: I think the brand has been pushed quite far. Greg and this collaboration with him have set a new high for us and I appreciate it. But my hopes for our company is that we will take incremental steps toward his world and eventually find a nice middle ground.
ESQ: Could you tell us more about the collection?
GREG LAUREN: I was absolutely in love with the idea of taking the nautical lifestyle and a brand known for a very conservative, classic version of it, and turning it upside down. I wanted to change the perception of sailing, yachting, and focus on the nomadic, adventurous spirit I think people share now.
ESQ: What did you feel that the brand learnt from this collaboration?
ANDREA DINI: It was how far I can push the brand and a different way of looking at Paul & Shark. But the part that I really enjoyed is how Greg didn’t bring in any new materials to create this collection. He used fabrics that we already have but interpreted them in a completely different way. Another thing that I learnt from Greg is the company’s reputation for being very technical.
ESQ: Greg, would you like to expand on that?
GREG LAUREN: I took an archival sailing jacket made in Paul & Shark’s yellow typhoon fabric and deconstructed it, transforming it into a kimono silhouette with knit sleeves. Or, capitalising on the amazing knitting techniques Paul & Shark is known for over three generations and redefining it, be it a fully knitted navy officer’s coat or a navy and white knitted rugby shirt.
ESQ: There are many designers that you could have worked with, what drew you to Greg Lauren?
ANDREA DINI: I think the age group of our customers is quite similar and his passion is in knitwear. One of the core pillars of our brands lies in knitwear; we are still a company that doesn’t outsource our knitwear production. It is something that we take great pride in. I was looking for someone who shares that same passion in knitwear.
ESQ: Personally, I loved the idea of turning the knits into a tailored three- piece suit. Could you tell us more about what inspired you to translate knits into tailoring?
GREG LAUREN: The very first idea and concept I had when thinking about this collection was how can I use knitting in a new, fresh way. The knitted pieces by Paul & Shark are so iconic, I wanted to begin by seeing what we could do that would be original. I immediately thought, let’s try some knitted, tailored pieces, created in a traditional cut-and- sewn way. Using the beautiful texture of the knitted techniques, in classic nautical tones of navy blue, let’s do a suit! I’ve always been known for ‘tailored but unconstructed’ and this allowed me to push that even further. I loved the idea for the presentation of what we called the Knitted Dandies.
ESQ: Are we going to see more collaborations from Paul & Shark?
ANDREA DINI: The brand is 40 years old, but we only started introducing collaborations in the last two years. There are many reasons why we started to introduce it more at Paul & Shark, but forgive me if I am constantly repeating myself, the most important thing is to have different point of views and different approaches to my brand.
ESQ: And for you Greg, what did you enjoy most about this collaboration?
GREG LAUREN: To challenge myself to be as creative as possible, yet respecting the DNA of Paul & Shark.
ESQ: What would you like your legacy to be?
GREG LAUREN: I set out to make clothes from the perspective of being an artist. I love changing the way people see clothes, changing what clothes can say about us redefining luxury, making it about individuality and creativity.
ESQ: What would you like the legacy of yourself and Paul & Shark to be?
ANDREA DINI: For Paul & Shark, it is the authenticity of our garments. I like to tell my team that our brand is a promise that we make to our customers. A promise of quality and performance. And after this collection, I hope a promise of fun. There is no reason why heritage, performance and quality cannot meet fun.
For my own legacy, if I may say so, I hope that people will remember me as a man who never gives up.