Editorial

Jonathan Anderson On Remaking Loewe

By perspective
07 Nov 2018

The wunderkind British designer talks about the last five years piloting the Spanish luxury brand out of the doldrums and launching it anew for a 21st-century audience.

Spain’s most storied leather goods brand, which was acquired by LVMH in 1996, brought Jonathan Anderson to the helm in 2013, where he has not only introduced several bestselling bags and critically acclaimed men’s and women’s ready-to-wear lines, but also made Loewe a prominent player in the spheres of art, craft and culture.

Jonathan Anderson. SOURCE: JAMIE STOKER

 

 

In five years, 35-year-old Anderson has remade the very foundations of LVMH’s oldest luxury fashion house. When he joined, he spent a year revamping every element of the brand – from the logo down to the style of the press release – before he began work on his ready-to-wear debut.

“I did not want Loewe to be built overnight because it had been tackled before and it still had inherent problems,” the designer says from Loewe’s Paris studio, where he works two days a week. (He spends the other three at the J.W. Anderson office in London.) “At the same time, I wanted something that felt like it had always been there.”

The result is a brand that feels rooted in craft and tradition, but simultaneously modern. Its leather and woven bags are luxurious, functional and distinctive. Its fashion vocabulary is defined. A Loewe garment – grounded in classicism, but with a clean, contemporary shape – is unmistakable on a clothing rail.

Pieces from the spring/summer 2019 collection. SOURCE: JAMIE STOKER

On remaking Loewe

“What happens to a lot of historical brands is that they get so many layers of paint that they literally become baroque. Everything gets boiled down to a tourist idea. So for me it was how do you start taking layers of paint off over a four-year period. By taking all that away, you go into the focus of the material, the nappa, the leather, the hand. Loewe didn’t really have a clothing vocabulary before it was selling bags. Now fashion is a very serious component. You’re building a fashion language with the historical weight of leather goods.”

On managing a creative team

“In the beginning [I asked the master craftsmen] to design the bag they wanted to design. No one had ever asked them to do that before. People are used to being dictated to. From that we found loads of details that we now use. Because when you let people free, they come up with new things. If I micromanaged everything a) I would be mental and b) the output would be awful. Because ultimately as much as people think designers do this entire thing they don’t. It’s a massive group of people – incredibly talented people – behind the scenes who are making this all happen. I can be tough, but I let people do what they feel is right. You have to think creatively [across the business] in finance. And do something that you want to do. Because if you don’t want to do it, you’re never going to give me anything good.”

“Fashion is a competition. Ultimately you’ve got to sell the product.”
– Jonathan Anderson

On balancing continuity with novelty

“I think sometimes when you’ve been in a brand for a little bit longer, you realise those moments when you need to be boring because I’m moving at about 1,000 miles per hour and it takes time for people to catch up. And you sometimes know when you need to electrify things. When I am getting bored I know I have to work into the collection more, or if it’s a bag I need to reinvent it. Plus, fashion is a competition. Ultimately you’ve got to sell the product. And you have to really understand who you want to sell to because you’re not going to sell to everyone.”

Meet your new fashion community

 

Apply for new roles at exceptional fashion companies, browse exclusive work-related content, and be the first to see what’s coming from Perspective Careers.

Insights