When designer Jonathan Anderson presented his first runway collection for his label, JW Anderson, in 2010, critics fixated on his casual disregard for the gender binary, freely mixing the masculine and feminine. Twelve years on, it has become clear that Anderson gets a creative charge out of toppling just about any sartorial binary: His work for both JW Anderson and Loewe blends casual and formal, summer and winter, youthful and mature, camp and elegance. This ability to deftly combine seemingly opposing elements is also what makes his ongoing collaboration with Moncler so intriguing. As inspiration for the latest iteration, Anderson examined his affinity for Britain’s pebbled seaside and Moncler’s French Alpine heritage, and arrived at their common ground: rocks. Which led his mind to rock climbing, and the often colorful costuming associated with the pursuit.
The resulting collection, which is available online, in select Moncler boutiques, and in the JW Anderson boutique in London today, is dubbed “Dream in Color” and delights in rainbow-hued contrasts. There are puffer coats printed to look like green denim, ski vests that resemble bright orange life jackets, and mini-skirts that, at first glance, look like they’re made out of tweed, but actually are constructed in the same material as a sturdy winter coat. Even the accessories — padded oversized tote bags, bouclé-adorned Chelsea boots, and slides featuring braided puffed tubes — get in on the fun. On the occasion of the launch, Anderson spoke to W about the memories that inspired him, the thrill of blowing things up, and the joy of rediscovering one’s own clothes.
This is your third collaboration with Moncler. What was your overall inspiration for this iteration?
I was fascinated by youth culture and this idea that within rock climbing and sports, you have very brightly colored clothing, which you see in all different periods in history. I just wanted something that felt very optimistic, like getting out there in the big outdoors — the big escape.
Do you have any experience with rock climbing?
When I was a kid, we used to do these school trips to Ardèche, in the south of France. My parents would drop us off for two weeks, and we would do everything from abseiling to rock climbing to canoeing.
What were some of the other references you explored for this collection?
We looked at quite a lot of early utility wear, in terms of shapes and volumes. And a lot of different types of 1940s knitwear. I felt there was something nice about this idea of looking at that era through an ’80s lens or that early ’90s moment, where things became a bit more about going out culture.
You’re known for flattening out these binaries, whether it’s gender or age or whatever. Were you interested in flattening out the dichotomy between winter clothes and summer clothes?
I’m becoming more and more into this idea of the universal wardrobe. And as much as I’ve been exploring that in terms of gender and things like that over many years, I’ve started to see that there is this sort of trans-seasonal kind of idea within clothing—you’re buying things to last, or buying things for ideas, ultimately.
Is that overall idea related to sustainability?
Yeah. I’ve never understood the concept that if you buy something you wear it once. For me, if you buy something, you can continue to wear it, you can get bored of it, and then come back to it. Sometimes you decorate a room and then you get bored of it, then you want to redecorate it, but you come back to it, ultimately. So, for me, it's about making things that last, things that ultimately mix into your vocabulary. I’ve always felt that if I'm going to put something out, there has to be an idea with creativity that excites me, that it's just not product for product’s sake.
It also seems like there’s a lot of youthful inspiration in this collection. It’s kind of childlike, in a good way. Has that been something that has interested you lately? The idea of mixing even what’s age appropriate?
I like this idea of something very toy-like. I’ve always kind of been obsessed with blowing up things. There is a good feeling from that. No matter what age you are, this idea of youthfulness, this idea of things being toy-like, this idea of novelty somehow excites.
You’ve done a lot of collaborations, how do you make sure every new collection feels distinct?
Ultimately, it’s about putting wrongs with rights, or pushing the envelope on certain things. It’s about trying to find that balance of what you wear, and what ground you have not covered that excites you, in a product that you know that is made to last.