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Why spend six years developing an idea, when you can dedicate a lifetime?

With a refusal to conform to fashion’s restrictive six month cycle, Tim Blanks & Sarah Mower put Aitor Throup’s philosophy centre stage at London Collections Men – as the designer launched the manifesto that will guide his design destiny.

Together with New Object Research , the name of his future archive collection, both the manifesto and the product are uncompromisingly powerful in their conviction. Instead of retailing a different batch of items every season, the designer will release a new design archetype one-by-one, or collection-by-collection. Built upon the concept of his five ongoing conceptual narratives, these archetypes will be distilled physical realisations of his most treasured intellectual enquiries. Having now built up a focused  ‘concept archive’, from which he can now revisit and explore, the idea is that he can dip in when he wants – and upgrade an idea to design archetype status. The creative kickback? These timeless pieces, not conceived or developed as a reaction to a specific style or trend, will leave Throup the time he needs to think of his next big idea.

The first complete New Object Research offering will consist of 22 ready to wear archetypes, and will be presented in January 2013. One complete outfit from the launch will be presented and available exclusively through Dover Street Market, with whom the designer is planning an event to coincide with Frieze Art Fair in London.

Lucy Norris caught up with Aitor Throup, at the New Object Research launch, to talk about the value of standing still, the importance of process over product, and why Burnley made him the designer he really is…

Lucy Norris: When we spoke in 2010, you had just completed Legs – which was a prelude maybe to what is happening today – as you were talking then about a repetition of a product…

Aitor Throup: Exactly, it was about isolating a product type. Basically, today I want to contradict the idea of a fashion installation or presentation, because my design is about product rather than fashion. It’s not a series of different looks. It kind of might seem boring to some people – oh, it’s loads of trousers. All I am trying to say to the fashion world is that I am not a fashion designer. I am a product designer. These are products. They’re isolated. I am also a concept designer; I am designing the concepts that dictate the process, which dictates the product.  Really, the product is the symptom of what I am interested in.

LN: So often it is that fashion designers start with the product:  they know they need to design a dress, so they go and find a narrative or story to fit the dress. They work backwards – with a commodity driven mentality.

AT: Yeah, I work inside out.  I start with an organ, and then I develop another organ, and a ribcage. Then, you are gradually building it up. It’s only when it has a skin that it is ready. My concepts for a long time have been really hermetically considered. It almost felt like, you know, those anterior crochets – the human body without the skin? It basically takes 6 or 7 years to build the skin, and then that’s the product.

LN: When we spoke last, we chatted about the value of repeating concepts – in delivering your creative ideas some kind of real justice…

AT: Also, it’s not just the idea of doing it justice, it’s that you are still interested in it. And, that you can take it somewhere else.  Fashion is sort of anti-what I am doing, in a way. However, whenever I speak about things like continuity, validity, integrity and repetition – the response from the fashion crowd is great, and I wonder why it isn’t happening more. So that’s why I wrote a manifesto, to finally say this is how you do it.

LN: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean about that cathartic process of putting something down on paper – and then leaving it be. However, I feel your reoccurring narratives, involving fractured communities and isolated cultures is something you will always take with you…

AT: Yeah,  that part is very personal. It’s about my upbringing. Growing up in Burnley, being surrounded by violence all the time.  Which incidentally, is what inspired me to become a designer – a few years down the line I found myself very interested in Hindu culture again.

LN:  So, it’s about taking the time to understand the other side of something…not judging, but uniting….

AT: Yes, and building a sense of community…