Articles on JW Anderson
For many in the fashion industry, London is considered the best place to find talented and creative young designers. While New York is considered too commercial (but still young), and Milan and Paris are still dominated by the luxury houses established decades or even centuries ago, London boasts a culture where young people get to evolve creatively. So many of today’s most revered directors trained and started in London. The likes of avant-garde showmen Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, to the more minimal and practical Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo. Today, one of the most prominent young designers in the industry that started in London is Jonathan William Anderson.
The Northern-Irish designer is known for his interplay of masculine and feminine aesthetics. On his runways, he made his male models wear skirts and other feminine tropes of fashion, while his female muses wore heavily-tailored pieces that harken to classic menswear. His fashions are a sort of escapism for the wearer who doesn’t want to conform to the gender binary and express himself or herself fully. Because of such a unique approach to fashion, both brand and the designer have amassed a cult following, becoming one of the most prominent new labels in the industry.
From Acting to Costume Design
Jonathan William Anderson was born in 1984 in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland. Growing up, he spent a lot of time in his family home on the Balearic Island of Ibiza, which had a completely different environment to his home in Northern Ireland. He shared that the stark contrast between his two homes helped him develop his unique sense style. Before establishing his brand, he tried his hand acting and studied at the prestigious Juilliard School in Washington D.C. at the young age of 18. Whilst there, he developed a love for costume design instead, leading him to his path to fashion.
In 2005 he studied at the London College of Fashion, where he perfected his craft. After graduating, he worked as a visual merchandiser for Prada, where he was introduced to a number of influential people in the industry. In 2008, he debuted his first menswear collection, establishing the JW Anderson brand. It was met with critical acclaim and commercial success, even gaining him a sponsorship from the British Fashion Council. Two years later, in 2010, he debuted his womenswear collection at London Fashion Week, which also saw immediate success. Because of his work, he and his brand have been awarded the “Menswear Brand of The Year” award twice by the British Fashion Council. The first was in 2014, and in 2015, he received it simultaneously with the “Womenswear Brand of The Year” award—the first company to do so.
Even for a young designer and brand, JW Anderson has already entered multiple collaborations, sharing his design aesthetic with other labels. The first one was with British high street brand Topshop, in 2012 and 2013. Entitled JW Anderson x Topshop, the capsule collection consisted of kilts and paisley-printed pieces, as well as some garments featuring a Halloween motif. Most of the clothes of the collection were basic British pieces, from argyle sweaters to long-striped tops. Within hours of the 2012 release, it was already sold out, prompting the fast-fashion retailer to have another capsule collection with the designer the following year in 2013.
His most recent collaboration is with Uniqlo in 2017. Similarly with Topshop, his collection with the Japanese retailer consisted of pieces associated with British culture but made with the fabrications and the quality the Japanese brand is known for. It consisted of trench coats, striped-pieces, tri-colored scarves, plaid garments, and chunky knitwear. The collection was also an instant success, and Anderson stayed on as the chief collaborator of the brand.
Although his brand’s name is technically separate from these two collaborations, Anderson also lent his talents to two major European brands: Versace and Loewe. He replaced his fellow London-based designer Christopher Kane as Versus Versace’s guest designer in 2013 but was then replaced himself by Anthony Vaccarello. After that, he was announced as creative director of Spanish brand Loewe, a position he holds to this day.
Design Appearances from the Red Carpet to the Runway
Contrary to what many might say, JW Anderson is not pure hype. It’s been proven by the legion of prominent men and women who have worn his designs both on and off the red carpet. Actresses like Kate Bosworth, Elle Fanning, and Kelsey Asbill Chow have worn his pieces on the red carpet, and they’ve also been spotted watching his fashion shows during London Fashion Week. His muses both on and off the runway are the likes of Miranda Kerr and Karolina Kurkova. Pop superstars Selena Gomez and Kylie Minogue have worn his designs as well. There was even a skirt that both Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé wore—much to the delight of the fashion press.
Things are looking up for the young designer and his brand. His work is some of the most revered season after season, becoming a highlight during the entirety of Fashion Month. Although he’s not as big as his European counterparts, there’s no doubt he’ll eventually equal them.