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Just before the launch of their collaboration with LEE Jeans later this week, I caught up with Matthew Murphy, co-designer of OTHER (with Chloe Struyk). Formerly knowns as B Store, OTHER is a fashion brand, a physical boutique on London’s Kingly Street in W1 and a web store. OTHER produces its own-label range of unisex, utility-influenced clothing and accessories, which it sells alongside expertly selected pieces from independent designers, including Sharpened Lead favourites Marwood and Berthold. Regardless of their current name, the team are no strangers to collaboration, B-Store previously worked with Liberty, fusing Liberty’s print heritage with OTHER’s relaxed but contemporary approach to shape and form.
The new collection with LEE combines some of the classics from LEE’s archive like the Western shirt and Rider denim jacket with elements taken from Japanese workwear including details from OTHER’s signature rice print on collars and elbow patches, polka dots embroidered nto jeans and inky dip-dye prints, collectively revelling in an enjoyment of all things indigo.
In the light of the OTHER team pairing up with the major denim brand, I asked Matthew a few questions:
SL: How did the collaboration with LEE come about?
MM:“OTHER is a fashion label but it’s not premium, we’ve always tried to keep OTHER accessible and affordable. We’d been looking for denim brand that was relevant to us, rather than doing denim ourselves, which would make it somehow more ‘fashion’. LEE has heritage but doesn’t try to do fashion, it’s always been slightly in the shade of LEVI’s, which is a shame, but they produce really great fitting jeans.”
SL: What is the beauty of denim for you as a designer?
MM: “Durability, simplicity, the silhouette changes but it remains utilitarian. Denim is now accepted everywhere, it can look clean, you can dress it up. And with LEE its a great fit. It can be hard to find a cut you like and men especially tend to find something they like and stick to it, it becomes a uniform.”
SL: There’s a Japanese workwear influence, how did that come about?
MM: “We had some 19th century images of Japanese worker uniforms, where the denim was patched, mended, sometimes they were held together with just threads but there was a reverence for the original material. And when I was out in Japan last year, there was an obsessive level of interest with some stores focusing on just one type of workwear. Workwear is a huge global market and some brands try to ‘recreate’ the classics but I wanted to use something more authentic. The collaboration with LEE seemed like a good time to use the inspiration of these images.”
SL: Did you get acess to the LEE denim archive?
MM: “We did, totally, and they gave us complete creative freedom. The Rider jacket is a LEE original, we looked at other jacket designs from the 70’s and 80’s: cropped, boxier and perhaps a bit more fashion but that would limit who would wear them.”
SL: It’s a very unisex collection, is that important to OTHER as a brand?
MM: “Yes, that’s part of OTHER, for instance we have a style of shoe that is as popular with girls and boys. OTHER is quite unisex, there’s always a bit of androgeny in the womenswear and there are some feminine touches in the menswear.”
SL: What other plans do you have for OTHER?
MM: “We’re working with Craig Green, we have an installation of one of his ‘exploding headpieces’ from the show opening this weekend and his collection launching mid-August. The presentation in his shows can be extreme, but away from that the clothes are accessible, wearable and he’s one of the most accomplished graduate designers of his age, we’ve bought the collection for the store.
“We’re also working on a collaborative shoe with Grenson.
“OTHER is a tool for these collaborations and for supporting creativity generally. We have a customer base that wants to know the story of the designer. On the website, people might be buying from a designer they haven’t heard of before and we might be one of only a handful of outlets selling their collection.”
If you’re looking for an interesting shop to visit when you’re in town, or a website to look to for contemporary, well-made clothing that connects you with interesting brands and designers then OTHER is a brand and outlet you should be aware of.