Edward Cuming was born in Sydney, Australia – but now sets up base in Madrid. Graduating from CSM’s prestigious fashion MA, the designer’s graduate collection made people take notice. AW22 sees the brand branching out into their most comprehensive offering yet – exploring new textiles, processes and methods of creation.
Drawing on the idea of garments from his adolescence and taking the traditional building blocks of wardrobes, the new collection is “an amalgam of blown-up and exaggerated proportions, fluid silhouettes emitting notions of soft masculinity and subverted constructions uncovering what is usually concealed”. However, practicality remains of high importance, with the pieces finished in a functional and comfortable way. As the new collection launches, we caught up with the designer to talk it through – and how he got here.
Let’s start at the beginning – how did you get into designing?
For a brief moment in high school I was studying Agriculture as an elective subject; tending to vegetables, cows and chickens in Sydney where I am from. I quickly realised this wasn’t for me and needed a change. The only opening for electives mid-year was Design and Technology Textiles, so I thought why not? I had been wrapping myself in curtains since I was a small child (according to my mother) so I felt there could be something there. Fast forward and I’m on one of the most demanding MA programs at Saint Martins, so I suppose I made the right choice.
If you had to identify three pillars that underpin your work and brand, what would these be and how do they play out in the collections?
Bold and vibrant colours in unexpected combinations, a softness in textile and construction that translate into soft notions of masculinity, and the human hand that becomes visible in the imperfections. I am always looking at how we can elevate an existing textile through unexpected layering combinations or cutting away at fabric to reveal or highlight imperfections. The colour, as well as deciding between raw and luxury textile finishings, simultaneously play into that balance.
Do you have a piece that encapsulates your brand or ethos the best, and if so what is it?
The lightweight, two-tone Circle Window shirt made out of lining fabric from AW22 really speaks to the three brand pillars just mentioned. It’s a simple fabric that we elevated through layering and washing to create something delicately soft and sensual, and yet at the same time graphic and rough. This piece is the result of development over multiple seasons where we have been playing with washed and dyed linings to create collaged, multi-layered textiles.
I read that your work is grounded in ‘observation and an exploration of the sensorial’ which is interesting – can you tell us a bit more about this?
My design process is based so much on feeling, for example when you encounter people or objects that evoke an effortless elegance and energy. It might be the natural ageing of an article of clothing or simply the way in which someone appears to have gotten dressed in the morning, layering and tucking their garments in certain places on the body for comfort or protection. This observation feeds directly into my thinking when constructing a piece. A wash may give a piece a certain distorted twist, similar to natural ageing or maybe the collar is triple-layered revealing pops of colour underneath mirroring the person I remember. It’s about sensations and feelings translating into something tangible.
Have you faced any unexpected challenges along your journey?
Absolutely. Production is a big challenge for any new brand. Finding trustworthy partners and managing all the moving parts. It has been a learning curve each season but each time around it gets a little more frictionless. It’s a hard industry in the wholesale market; stocking in renowned spaces is so important but the schedule can be quite brutal.
Right now we are in a middle stage where we are no longer considered small, but also are not big by any means. This is difficult to navigate with factories when it comes to deadlines or production delays due to varying priorities or, in particular in our case, when we want to produce pieces with tricky construction techniques. It all is quite difficult but like anything, with time things become easier… Luckily Spain has a lot of small ateliers that we can distribute production to and remain agile.
Talk to us about the new collection!
The new collection feels very real to me. It’s our first full Autumn/Winter offering. Even though I adore light fraying garments that feel very delicate, it was refreshing to work with sturdier textiles this season and interpret them in our language. For example, working with denim was exciting. We were trying to establish something very utilitarian but still considered in the fit. Knitwear and heavier coats have been developed from some of my own archive pieces going back to my teenage years. Pieces that I’ve cut into and adapted over time to suit the silhouette I wanted at that particular time. We wanted to take everyday pieces that give comfort in the winter months and elevate them to a more luxurious offering by playing with concepts of inversion, replacing traditional techniques and highlighting imperfections that are usually hidden.
Materiality and colour are clearly major concerns for you – can you run us through your typical creative process?
I am constantly collecting research imagery; editorial, vintage clothing, and objects, so in most seasons I start with a look into my archives and see what images are exciting me. I try not to separate research by season as I feel the brand is more of a constant creative conversation than defined seasonal concepts. Often images have been used multiple times across seasons but each time I see them in a new way or notice a detail that I hadn’t before and that can translate into a simple manipulation that will spark off into ten new pieces. The process is very 3D and very instinctual. We do a lot of initial fittings to understand the silhouette, then just let ourselves go for it with colour and material.
What’s next for Edward Cuming?
We really hope to begin to present our collections in a physical format soon, so definitely working towards that!
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