It’s easy for brands we like to get lost in the mix sometimes so we thought we should catch up with Richard Dawson, founder of Forgotten Future, to find out more about the label’s influences, aspirations and, most importantly, where you can buy it from. Our Q&A is after the leap.
An experienced textiles and menswear designer and a veteran of Kylie Minougue’s creative team – why take the plunge to establish your own label?
It was perfect timing really, a case of now or never. I had been designing for other people and brands for nearly ten years but I had always wanted to create my own collection and vision without creative limitations and company politics. A freelance design role had finished, in which I worked really well with the overseas factory and their excellent production team, so I approached them to collaborate with me on my first collection and took it from there. Its important to have good support like this in place as I didn’t want to create a ‘home sewn’ product and I knew their quality and finish was great and would suit my handwriting.
What makes Forgotten Future different to all the other new brands out there and what is the Richard Dawson ‘signature’?
Well like many other new brands, I’d say it’s progressive, but I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, the point of view is mine which makes a difference. A strong colour message combined with a boyish feel ultimately describes the Forgotten Future look.
SS11: There’s a definite sense of the ‘make-do-and-mend’ (darned coat
pockets, hand-me-down oversized jumpers/shirts and the hand-crafted touch of
the appliqué Tees) ethos, but it’s really mixed-up with a tougher, more
itinerant feel, rather than the quaint nostalgia it’s usually reserved for.
Is this playfulness how we can expect Forgotten Future seeks to skit on
‘trends’ to in future collections?
Yes, I take inspiration from various sources, not necessarily all connected, giving a playful juxtaposition. It’s important to me that my collections are not obviously themed because that isn’t a modern way of working. My original inspiration is not always where I end up, its like a journey when researching.
The AW11 collection, Pony Youth, is inspired by the photography of Perry Ogden, an artist who seeks to investigate the transformations of societies through his work. So, Forgotten Futures: a line for reimagined retro trends,or a label that seeks to document social and cultural change through reinterpreting past styles?
I would say a bit of both. My collections have a playful side, which comes through in patten and proportion, sometimes influenced by a past attitude. Yet part of my research has a strong connection with a forgotten society by the way men and boys lived and dressed. What I love most about the ‘Pony kids’ book, people just don’t dress like that anymore, yet it wasn’t that long ago.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s get back to SS11. What are the main inspirations and stories behind this collection? Feels like there’s an 80s Harlem B-ball attitude (it’s those hoped socks!) – wide of the mark?
Fairly wide off the mark hehehe! Inspiration for SS11 started with an old post war photo album I picked up in Spitafields market which had pictures of a scout troop spanning 40 years in and out of uniform. Added to this there were ideas from the previous collection I wanted to expand on like constructivism and geometric patchworks taken from a vintage textile but executed in a more subtle and casual way. A love of 90s sportswear combined with a more formal post war vibe was were I ended up. The proportions are cut broader, off the shoulder than a every day silhouette, like when you have an old T-shirt that has lost its shape, or a hand me down from a sibling thats either grown or shrunk. Working with the photographer on styling the look-book we opted for a more sporty vibe, which suited the model (it’s so important to get the right guy to represent the brand for a season) hence the sports socks.
The SS11 colour palette is wonderfully subtle and subdued, except for those dramatic flashes of red of course. What’s the significance of that, it appears to be ‘narrative’ thread through the collection itself?
The subtle colours, were part influenced by faded photographs and uniforms, but you also see flashes of red in uniform detailing and on scouting badges. It was also important not to have the collection looking too sensitive as I really like mixing it up with a tougher vibe. While using red as an accent on more progressive pieces, I also needed that colour repeated through the look book shoot.
As a brand new label, how has Oki-ni’s involvement from the ground-floor helped enable you to go in the direction that you wanted/needed to right from the off?
I couldn’t have hoped for a more supportive stockist and buyer. The creative director/buyer at the time launched us with an interview online, that sat with other ‘new faces’ whom were more established than I, was great to be part of. They are very passionate about stocking new british designers but they-re not a charity. I’ve learnt a lot through being stocked with them, which has helped me in my design work, which styles will work, price points etc. Its important to have affordable styles under £100 and not to go over the £400 threshold because above that price point one is competing with well known super brands or cult status brands, which we’re not yet and not many fashion aware men will pay that much for an item from a new designer. Being with Oki-ni has also helped draw in attention from other stores/buyers.
And in what directions shall we expect Forgotten Futures to have taken, in terms of brand expansion, by the time our second Second Look feature with you rolls round?
For SS12 I’m designing accessories to help create a total look. I hope this in time will also cover shoes and jewellery, I would possibly like to collaborate with another designer on this. I shall still be taking influence from various sources and working on detail, proportional play and interesting colour combinations, as this is how I work. I’m hoping to be stocked with a few high profile overseas stores as we recently received a few nods of approval from buyers during Paris AW11.
Words by Alex Jackson