Monday, February 20, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

He had his catwalk presentation yesterday, which, described as "What Hermes should be doing." Unfortunately for me, I was turned away at the door. I dashed from Vivienne Westwood, but scheduling and traffic meant the timings didn't work. Lucky for me, I had time with Thomas last week. He has produced two critically acclaimed London Fashion Week shows already, and has ten global stockists. Yet you are probably wondering: who is he? Well, let me introduce you. He is a a 24 year old softly spoken Canadian boy who graduated from Central Saint Martin's MA course in 2010 - yup the one that has been run by Louise Wilson for 20 years, the very same one that produced McQueen, Kane, Koma et al. His aesthetic is a little but American sportwear; a little but tricksy Japanese cut, and he only makes in Britain.

Thomas Tait at his studio in Hackney 

Thomas Tait isn't like most of the MA graduates who have graduated onto the NEWGEN scheme though; rather than each collection being about about the big concept, complete with a mood board populated with images from far flung places and exotic women, his inspiration is "in my head," he says tapping it.

We are at his studios on Mare Street, in the Centre for Fashion Enterprise, (CFE) that supports young designers just starting out. Thomas has two large strip-lit rooms on the second floor.
I'm a fan of his work. It is minimalist, chic, sleek, functional and clever.  Looking at one of coats with their slightly curved-arms, and asymetric hemlines you just know it will be good, and fabulous to wear, for five years minimum. Thomas is all about cut, texture, silhouette.

My favourite jacket

Thomas points out his Japanese "plonge"

His approach is rigorous and woman friendly. Oh, and you want to see him get excited about the cut of one of his jackets, and the way the supple glove leather he has gotten corrugated by a Japanese company - ok he calls it "Japanese Plonge" -  becomes the ribbing at collar, cuff and waistline. He is like a kid being given a candyfloss when the sample becomes ready.

The jacket on yesterday's runway show, and his yellow "Buffy" trousers

"I'm about how a woman will interact with a garment. I spend a very long time developing the cut and construction of my tailoring." Indeed he developed a slim-fit trouser for his first collection,  now a permanent feature of his range, which dear readers, has a gusset! Like in a pair of tights! Hold that "eeeewww" forming in your mind because it is actually genius.
Let Thomas explain.

"I want to create a slim silhouette. When you talk to women, its super interesting. I'm fascinated by their neuroses, and how they see their bodies.What do they hate? What are they uncomfortable about? Where do they hate 'bulk'?.  It turned out to be in that area. So I put work into the cut there." And sure enough, it works. You can't see the, ahem, gusset. Or as Thomas says, "it creates a visual, but it is not present."

This gives you a clue to the Tait approach to cut. His collections so far have explored modern outerwear (last winter) and for spring 2012 he is looking at modern sportswear shapes in muted pastel tones; notably a modern riff on the T-shirt shown on the runway three weeks before Celine's almost identical one. "An American buyer called me back after Celine to tell me "you're in good company kid,"

For his Fall/Autumn/Winter collection, he has taken something of a Varsity route; a vaguely collegiate style. Cue riffs on baseball jackets and denim jackets, skater boy hats, skinny leather and silk velvet pants in off colours. even some denim, "we've created it with contrast wax thread top stitch, the jeans are high waisted and flare out slightly. We've embossed the back pockets, which makes me laugh a bit. We called the leather jeans "Buffy" The silk velvet trousers are upholstery weight." With Thomas its all there in the detail.

The 70s inspired two-tone suede jacket

The HUF hats on the drawing board

His looks are inspired by sportswear, classic tailoring which he gives his own unique twist. The shades of yellow and brown he has chosen are a bit Seventies western; he has developed hats with skatewear brand HUF. "Lots of my mates wear HUF. I have an affinity with the sense of brotherhood in the skate community."

"I am afraid of mood boards, I can never fulfil on a board what is in my head. My ideas are not static, they are flashes of light, film clips." I suggest perhaps a moving moodboard - and he laughs. That will be my show."