Now that 6876 are firmly back on the map, we caught up with founder Kenneth Mackenzie to talk shop. Plenty of topics came up, including the heritage boom, the plans in present and future for 6876 and whether he feels the need to remind folks that he was collaborating with Tricker’s before it was all trendy.
Read the interview after the leap.
You’ve noted before that you’ve moved onto a rolling product development. Do you feel that the old seasonal method of creating products is becoming obsolete?
The rolling product move came from two situations: (1) was financial as for a small company we couldn’t justify producing a “full collection” & that it was taking all my time/resources just to get the job done leaving not enough time to work on the creative side but (2) more importantly I really felt that the “seasonal” collection approach was quite dated & that 6876 needed to concentrate on making specific product that emphasised the aesthetic of the brand rather than to cover all bases…also each garment would & could be worked on until it was right.
There’s too much product out there that’s just generic & 6876 had never been about making huge collections anyway so this is a natural progression.
Do you feel like the gap between directional fashion and style is closing? A few years ago it wouldn’t have been absurd to see brands like Trickers and Church’s in a fashion mag, now it’s the norm
Well I think there’s definitely more of a mix of brands in stores, whether they are “fashion” or classic. But more so than there being a closing of the gap, I think there’s a realignment in terms of [what’s deemed fashion and what isn’t]. Also, in another way I think the very “fashion” brands & magazines are increasingly out of touch with how men wear clothing.
Speaking of Trickers, do you ever feel like reminding people that you were collaborating with them before it was trendy to do so?
The Trickers collaboration came from the fact that at the time myself & the guys in the studio wanted a less austere /warmer feel to the collection around 1999/2000 & through that we developed a more classic feel to the collection which resulted in us producing and accessories. We also thought of footwear and we had worn/were wearing Trickers so I approached them as first and foremost we wanted a quality shoe. In fact I think we played around with the styles more than most people do now & it was very successful although after a while we found it quite limiting as Trickers have quite a specific almost heavy feel unlike, say, Alden.
What’s your thoughts on the current heritage boom? Is it a good thing overall or does it leave the door open for people to buy old company names and reel out their history whilst making poor quality products?
Heritage products/brands obviously have their place and if something genuinely interesting is done to update these brands then I am all for it. But, as you say, there can be some “questionable” re-vamps when in fact the original product was strong anyway.
With the influence of the internet, blogs and so on, do you feel as if companies like yours don’t need to strive for global expansion? I mean, a kid in China will see this interview at the same time as one in New York.
Internet exposure & subsequent web retail is great for a brand like ours as it has opened up a whole new avenue of business & exposure to a small company. However it’s always good to have your product in a store that really champions your product. In terms of the traditional mens magazines, I see them as a dying culture which is accentuated by the blogs online. It’s like everything – there has to be a balance. We don’t really need to have many stores carrying our brand as we can sell on-line but it’s great if a very interesting one wants to feature your clothing.
When you create a product, are you inspired by abstract things (like old photos, etc) or does the function come first (i.e it’s sunny, so I’ll make some shorts)?
Designing can take on different forms or reasons: sometimes it’s an overall shift within how I work (i.e a reaction to say the clothing being too accented to a certain feel or certain fabrics/colours & I want to move in a new direction). But there are also influences on a more artistic level that I always find that quite difficult to explain to people as they’re very personal to me (obscure!) & it’s not always necessary for people to understand anyway. Then other times it starts from fabrics. I used to work in a much more structured way in the past but it’s different now. Recently we’d been working in a very sports orientated way, but with the Rosslau and Brecon jackets I just went back to just drawing to find a way of making an interesting jacket in terms of construction.
What makes a collaboration good or bad?
Basically it has to look that it’s kind of natural/believable and that both parties are genuinely involved
What other collaborations do you have in the pipeline?
SS2010 we are continuing our collection with United Arrows / Beauty & Youth & also there’s some some heavily sportswear accented projects we are doing with Hanon-shop & the continuation of R6 our accessories range..which will involve utilising the facilities at Regent belt to make some special one off projects with other brands.
Closer at hand we have the VCMP project with Hanon & Reebok. Our part is a version of the Capandula jacket (January 2010). After this, we’ve got quite a different project altogether – we are working with Patrick Laing, a product designer who has worked with us before on installations & shares a studio, to make a range of everyday wooden tools. We’re hoping to release this as a project in December.