Five Minutes With… Daniel Kearns, Creative Director of Kent & Curwen

Daniel Kearns talks about this season’s KEY INVESTMENT PIECES, the inspiration behind SS18 and the LONDON FLAGSHIP STORE opening this winter …

 

British men’s clothing line Kent & Curwen has its roots in Savile Row tailoring and dates back to the 1920s, when it produced ties and sportswear for top schools and universities. Famed for popularising the traditional cricket jumper, the label is being propelled into modern-day wardrobes with the help of David Beckham, a part-owner of the brand and regular face of it, and with the design expertise of Dubliner Daniel Kearns, who has worked in menswear design at houses from Ungaro to John Galliano, and was design director of menswear at Alexander McQueen from 2005-1010. We spoke to Kearns about the label; its London flagship store is set to open this winter.

How men dress: Irish men respect traditions but also like to find influences beyond Ireland. I think this is quite similar in London. There is a sense of etiquette and dressing to certain codes so as not to stray too far into the over stated or the flamboyant which most men are scared of, but at the same time a willingness to play with those traditions and have a sense of irony about them.

The focus for spring/summer 2018: was traditional summer sports; cricket, rowing, athletics. For inspiration we explored archive imagery from the 1948 Austerity Games in London, where British Olympians were required to provide their own kit, thereby defining their own national uniform, united by the Union Jack badge worn by all. The key items for the season are the cricket jumper which we presented with frayed edges, lived-in like an old locker room favourite and the cricket trouser recreated as a track pant but in traditional Fox Brothers lightweight cricket flannel.

The season’s key investment: The inspiration for launching the Greatcoat was due to Kent and Curwen’s military heritage. The co-founder Eric Kent fought alongside his brother in the Great War and by the 1930s Kent & Curwen was producing clothing for many British regiments. With this story in mind, I took inspiration from an officer’s greatcoat dating from the early part of last century, and re-worked the design for a more contemporary wardrobe. The Greatcoat has been cut slimmer than the original for a more modern silhouette, whilst still retaining original vintage detailing such as brass crest buttons, military shoulder epaulettes and double breasted lapels. I think this piece stands out, because it tells this story.

The London flagship store: Floral Street in London’s Covent Garden has a genuine menswear heritage – it is a location celebrated for menswear with shops like Paul Smith and Jones setting the standard. The building at number 12, where Kent & Curwen will be opening, was an old boy’s school built in 1860 – it makes great sense for us to open up there, the history of the site really suits the brand’s aesthetic. The new store concept focuses on a central cube, constructed in aged metal and handblown green glass, reminiscent of a decorative Victorian pub or orangery. Painted brick walls are a nod to the streets of London, the city to which Kent & Curwen owes so much of its aesthetic. Vintage school gym apparatus influences hanging and storage solutions, referencing the brand’s heritage in supplying sporting attire to British schools such as Eton and Harrow. University-style panelling is reinterpreted into ceiling detail inspired by the brand’s long association with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Ideal Irish getaway? The Roundwood Inn Wicklow, they do the best Irish stew! Also Glendalough for the walks. Sundays on the east link pier was always a good way to unwind and have a pretty amazing view of the city.

Sarah Halliwell

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