For British designer Olly Shinder, the fact that his Central Saint Martins graduate collection didn’t go viral is no biggie.
After all, his bachelor collection still got him “connected with the magazines that I was most interested in, with Dover Street Market,” he told WWD, recalling how retailers were calling and he was contacting Adrian Joffe.
Given that this led him to a spot at Dover Street Market Paris starting this season, clicks can’t compete.
The 23-year-old always had a sense that fashion interested him, but “coming from a relatively conservative family,” he didn’t feel that interest would be encouraged.
Growing up in London, he “made a point [of] going to every single art exhibition,” which eventually brought him to seeing fashion retrospectives at Barbican.
London’s Dover Street Market likewise offered an enriching experience of “clothes in a fine art context,” no purchase necessary. “Even if just visit[ing] [the store] casually, you walk away with something — a new idea, or a new way of seeing things just by having encountered the collection of [designers] who are sold there,” he explained.
From there he “just became obsessed. All I wanted to do was immerse myself in the culture,” he confessed. Before long, Shinder was busy sneaking into nightclubs.
Not just any clubs, mind you. “It was Vogue Fabrics, where Loverboy was happening at the time, [so] it was like I was already somehow sniffing out the London fashion scene,” he protested with good humor.
At the same time, he was cultivated his newfound interest — and an obsession for high-quality, well-made clothes — by interning at Phoebe Philo-era Celine and later for buzzy independent brands like GmBH.
“I wanted to be designing uniforms for the Olympics, I wanted to be doing all the airlines. I wanted to be some kind worldwide uniform designer, basically,” he said. So much so that it was a point he mentioned in his 2016 cover letter to be accepted at Central Saint Martins.
Another experience that shaped Shinder’s path was working as a trims designer for Swedish technical workwear specialists Snickers. Not only did that sharpen Shinder’s love for clothes that have wear in them, but it helped divorce notions of utility from gender.
Hence his vision of the Olly Shinder brand as a kind of function-first uniform that wouldn’t look amiss in a mountaineering shop — with a twist.
It’s what else he can throw into the mix that really has him going. “These are the things that differentiate and subvert the world of workwear and uniforms,” he added with relish, coining “luxury utility” as a descriptor for what resulted of his desire to “make archetypal clothing out of material not made [for] it.”
Cue details like the intricate pleating on the front of a jacket, luxury lingerie-level textiles and an airtight, watertight zipper used for decoration, all worked to “feel more personal to the wearer rather than being a kind of spectacle.”
At retail, this line, made entirely in London, currently starts around 200 pounds for tops and shorts cut from Polartec fleece, between 800 pounds and 1,200 pounds for trousers with a three-way zip detail at the knee, and up to 2,750 pounds for the jacket with the intricate lacing and triangular folds that he dubbed “the crocodile.”
When seeing his clothes up close, Shinder “hopes that people see and feel that the clothes are worth what they’re being sold for,” he said.
To him, joining Dover Street Market Paris is an opportunity to take stock of graduating while thinking about the next steps. Honing on his price range further, for example, but also putting in place a strcture that would “be somehow sustainable and satisfy me as a designer” while “feeling ethically right,” he outlined.
Shinder joins DSMP’s stable of 14 brands, all operating under different business arrangements, that can include brand development, production and distribution, with the Comme des Garçons-owned organization.
His graduate collection, commercially available for spring 2023, will be showcased from Oct. 2 to 6 during Paris Fashion Week, alongside Dream Baby!, ERL, Honey F–king Dijon, Vaquera, Weinsanto and Stefano Pilati’s rebooted Random Identities.