The Creatives Behind Cottweiler

The Creatives Behind Cottweiler

FOLLOWING THEIR FIRST PRESENTATION AT LONDON COLLECTIONS: MEN, THE GUYS BEHIND COTTWEILER EXPLAIN THEIR PEARLESCENT TOUCH 

FOLLOWING THEIR FIRST PRESENTATION AT LONDON COLLECTIONS: MEN, THE GUYS BEHIND COTTWEILER EXPLAIN THEIR PEARLESCENT TOUCH 

Photography: Simon Armstrong

Text: MANDI LENNARD

Matthew Dainty and Ben Cottrell met on a coach trip to Paris, while studying at Bristol University. They both graduated with degrees in fashion and textile design before starting their ethereal concept menswear label, Cottweiler. Their pearlescent white nylon threads are being adopted by some of London's key underground protagonists, including Machine-A's Stavros Karelis, Complex's Daryoush Haj-Najafi and Nick Knight's son Calum. The girls want in, too: flimmaker Grace Ladoja and DJ Siobhan Bell have been spotted in their menswear parkas and boilersuits. Skepta's been documenting his visits to Cottweiler HQ on Instagram, and a long-standing relationship with FKA twigs has seen them collaborate on special stagewear pieces.

This past week, Newgen Men support from Topman has enabled the duo to graduate onto the London Collections: Men schedule for the first time with a presentation held at Covent Garden’s Oasis Sports Centre. On arrival, visitors are usually handed a locker key, so it seemed incongruous to have the menswear fashion throng pile in and not ask if there’s an Aerobike free. Ushered past the swimming pool, guests filed onto a viewing balcony that overlooked a row of squash courts, each proposing an individual live model tableau, giving an aerial view of Cottweiler’s S/S '16 semi-transparent, lightweight whites and creams. Theirs is an easy, effortless precision, with draped silhouettes that illustrate a purity of design and clerical detail, synonymous with religious dress codes. Filtering down the stairs, guests entered each recess to inspect the designs' details.

How does it feel to now be part of LC:M having shown off-site for the past few seasons?

MATTHEW DAINTY It feels great to be able to show what we do to a wider audience. There is of course added pressure, but we feel ready for it.

The layering elements to the collection display quite startling technical agility. Would you attribute this to your Savile Row experience?

BEN COTTRELL Yeah, for sure. The subtle detailing is actually quite technical. We take a tailoring approach to most pieces, especially the outerwear. Here you will find linings, facing, and hidden pockets, similar to that of a suit or formal coat.

The multi-sensory experience is always important to you; tell me about the soundscape this time.

MD It was produced by Panthamilk with vocals by Palmistry, and included samples from religious chanting and a compilation of different temple bells cycled in the same rhythm.

How did you go about casting the models?

BC We have been working with Mischa Notcutt for several seasons on casting. She really understands what we want and is great at street casting. Each season the boy has to fit the concept, but we also prefer to cast boys with their own character, who would wear Cottweiler in real life. The starting point for this season was watching YouTube videos of London Hare Krishna groups. Skinhead boys, but with a softer appearance. We like to mix street casting with agency. The presentation was about half and half.

I found the bold stance of the models counteracted the more spiritual nature of the collection. Was this intentional?

MD We like to present the collection in this way because we feel this shows the looks best. It also feels like a more striking statement. We are both obsessively precise with everything we do.

How did you come to start Cottweiler?

MD It was never really a conscious decision, just a natural progression from spending so much time together when we were studying. We both moved back to London together and carried on just making things for each other, shooting our own editorials and films. A few years down the line we gave it a name, but the identity has always been there.

What's important to the brand?

BC Longevity. To be able to continue to work by following our instincts and not be dictated by trends or gimmicks.

How do you work out how you will present each collection?

BC We have both been inspired by contemporary artists from quite a young age, so presenting something in a similar form feels more poignant to us.

MD When we were asked by NTS to show our S/S '15 collection at the ICA, it was the perfect setting to really go all out and incorporate film, music and fashion into a sensory experience where each medium has its own spotlight under one concept. As there is always a strong narrative to our collections and the way we design, making films in the earlier days was a way for us to tell that story. We now try and create the same experience, but in a live setting that incorporates all these elements. The sound for each presentation is really key to evoking emotion from the viewer. It has been about collaborating on making the sound really fit the concept, no matter how abstract or distorted, or even sometimes unnerving, it might sound.

Tell me about your collaboration with FKA twigs.

BC We met a couple of years ago through a mutual friend and worked on some pieces for the "Papi Pacify" video. This lead to developing some things together for her first tour and we still make custom pieces for some stage performances. She’s been very supportive of us and vice versa.

Who else is wearing Cottweiler?

BC We aren’t into celebrity placement. This applies especially to musicians. It has to be someone we would listen to and respect. Skepta is a genuine fan and we met through Grace Ladoja. He has great taste and understands the references and dress codes we use. Yung Lean and Sad Boys wore all Cottweiler for their performance at the Barbican. It was great to see so many on stage in the collection.

Which stores are carrying this summer's collection?

MD Machine-A [London], Primitive [London], Autograph [Birmingham], Slam Jam [Milan], SRJVO [Zurich], Very Much Business [Amsterdam], Opening Ceremony [L.A. and NYC], Wildstyle [L.A.], FourTwoFour On Fairfax [L.A.], VFILES [NYC], GR8 [Tokyo], and Koon With a View [Korea].

What are you listening to in the studio?

MD LeriQ's "Say You Love Me," Alexandria's "Try Me," and Tori Doe's "If I Ever."

What do you love about London?

BC We are really lucky to have our studio here, amongst all our friends who are regularly in and out.

MD: A lot of what we do is about our social environment, so London is really key to our inspiration.

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