LONDON — Craig Green has taken his latest designs for Moncler Genius from macro to micro — and back again — in a bid to explore the outer limits of the down coat, and the feathers that fill it.
For his third Genius collection, Green, whose passion for constructing and deconstructing, geometry and modular design knows few limits, has created a collection of modular puffer coats, jackets and trousers that can be folded, flattened and packed away.
Fall 2019 will land on the shop floor at Kith in New York this week, with Green on site to show off his Space Age-y, workwear-inspired creations that come in a palette that takes in military green, light gray, orange, yellow and red.
“We started with the idea of lightness and travel. The whole design process was led by the idea of making the lightest possible garment — it’s part of Moncler’s DNA. Every zip, webbing and popper was the lightest we could get. The functionality led the design,” Green said in an interview.
Green created ample space in the modular pillows of his designs so that they can be easily deflated, folded and packed away. “I think that’s a magical aspect of a Moncler jacket. It’s something that looks so solid and protective, but you can actually compact it into a very small space. The down fill is still there — it’s one of the amazing things about down. When you take it out of a suitcase or a bag it kind of inflates itself.”
All the garments — including zip-up jackets with padded hoods, parkas and base layers — can be separated and condensed into small cubes. Zippers extract air as they are being closed. Green put a one-inch gap in-between every single down panel to act as a hinge so the item can be folded and the volume compressed.
Green and Moncler even created a film to demonstrate how to pack and unpack the clothing.
“At the store launch, hopefully people will be able to understand the importance of the functional aspect of the garment, and its uses for travel. It goes completely flat — although we couldn’t demonstrate that at the show, which was quite conceptual,” Green said.
The designer said after he created the collection, he made paper origami mini-dolls of how the garments could be folded, and how the sleeves could be packed into the back of the jacket. “You can see it in the film. We started with a small paper doll to explain the process, and it was up to the Moncler team to interpret the tiny doll.”
For the launch at Kith, Green and Moncler will be bringing back the “Vent Men,” figures resembling air vents, from the fashion show. The runway collection will be available, but there are more commercial pieces, which are also collapsible and packable.
This is Green’s third Moncler Genius collection, and the designer said he’s always learning from the Italian brand.
“I’ve always loved the idea of creating things within restrictions, and I think working with down is like no other garment construction because there are so many possibilities — and yet so many restrictions. You can’t stitch through the feather, and you have to do it in stages.
“We start with the concept and then we go through a lot of testing and trialing and design and development with the team to problem-solve all of those aspects. We learn a lot each time, and Moncler is very open to trying, which is kind of rare,” he said.
On a practical level, Green said working with Moncler has been an eye-opener. “I think the main thing we take away is just how they work, the industrialization and the scale at which the brand operates. They have 20 people during a fitting. When we have a fitting at Craig Green, there are two people.”
The Moncler Genius project, which was introduced in early 2018, has seen the Italian brand work with fashion-forward talents from across the globe including Pierpaolo Piccioli, Richard Quinn, Matthew Williams of 1017 Alyx 9SM, Simone Rocha and Palm Angels’ Francesco Ragazzi.
It’s been a hit in many ways: In the third quarter to Sept. 30, wholesale revenue at Moncler rose 11 percent to 304.9 million euros, due to the fall 2019 collections, to the Moncler Genius collaborations and the development of the shop-in-shop network. Wholesale was up despite a tighter edit of wholesale accounts.
Last month, the brand brought back its “House of Genius” concept stores for the second season. The stores stock the Genius collections, various brand collaborations, and the Moncler 1952 and Moncler Grenoble ranges.
Before the results presentation in October, Bernstein’s Luca Solca said in a research note that Moncler has built an “enviable position” at the top of the outerwear market.
“Moncler has done virtually everything right in recent years, from relentless product newness to achieving unprecedented EBIT margins [29.2% in 2018] at small scale. No competitor has been able to match their casual-plus-expensive product offer,” Solca said.
He’s expecting another three or four years of “above industry growth” from Moncler, due to “more stores, more jackets, as well as more growth in adjacent product categories like footwear and knitwear.”
Moncler’s Remo Ruffini on Monday night won the Business Leader award at the 2019 Fashion Awards in London. “Students are the future,” said Ruffini at the event at Royal Albert Hall.