LONDON — Katharine Hamnett has joined forces with contemporary label YMC to create a capsule collection of men’s and women’s wear, launching in January. It was a partnership that seemed like a no-brainer, given the dedication both YMC and Hamnett share for fair trade and their focus on functional, easy-to-wear pieces.
“It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with the legendary fashion firebrand who first inspired us to go create,” said YMC founder Jimmy Collins.
For her part, Hamnett found that there was a synergy between her and the YMC team on both a professional and a personal level.
“I’ve always liked and followed YMC. Their aesthetic is quite similar to mine; we both focus on the shapes and fabrics and you’ll never see any unnecessary details. They are also very nice people. I’m at a point in my life where I only work with people I like,” she said.
Inspired by Hamnett’s archive, the collection includes re-worked versions of the boiler suit, the utility pant and oversize shirting, maintaining the same philosophy Hamnett had when designing in the Eighties and Nineties.
“I’m a kind of practicing feminist because I’ve always been my own boss. I’ve never bowed down to anybody and I have the same attitude when it comes to clothes. I design pieces that are easy to wear and to look after. You can put them on, and forget about them because you know that they’re working for you,” she said.
Unisex slogan T-shirts are another key component of the capsule collection. The designer and environmental activist had famously used her T-shirts in the past to make a number of political statements, like criticize Tony Blair for invading Iraq. This time, she is using her T-shirts to address the current political situation, using the slogan “Stop and Think” to encourage people to consider the causes behind the Paris terror attacks.
“It’s meant to say stop and think whether war is the right way to deal with people who are so enraged by Western intervention,” Hamnett said.
In accordance to her commitment to sustainability, the collection has been produced using organic cotton and environmentally friendly ink while still maintaining accessible price points. The collection is priced between 50 pounds, or $75, for a T-shirt and 300 pounds, or $450, for a boiler suit.
“There’s better things to spend money on than clothes,” said the designer.
But it hasn’t only been YMC who has been taking inspiration from Hamnett. Kanye West has also taken a few trips in her archive and has been following her guidance on sustainability.
“Kanye is a great guy and he is committed to sustainability. He has been given a hard time by the industry, but he proved everyone wrong by selling out in an hour. Photographing the archives with him was a bit of a lightbulb moment because I got to rediscover a lot of my pieces and all the interesting details behind them,” she said.
In addition to her collaboration with YMC and her work with Kanye West, Hamnett has also secured funding to launch her own e-commerce site in the beginning of 2016. “Natalie Massenet said that she has sold Net-porter because designers were doing such a good job of running their own online stores and I thought, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it.'”