Shapes of things to come: Aitor Throup's menswear is conceptual but eminently wearable

There are few contemporary menswear designers who confront the conventions of the genre. While notable visionaries such as Rei Kawakubo, for Comme des Garçons, and Martin Margiela are revered for their radical approach to fashion, their main focus is still womenswear.

The German designer Bernhard Willhelm and the Belgian Raf Simons may be at the top of the current crop of menswear mavericks, but even they are, at times, rebuked for creating collections that are impenetrable to the average gent. In an increasingly vulnerable economic climate, designers are presenting commercial collections, since being radical in menswear is not now the favoured direction.

Aitor Throup's work is distinct, communicating a conceptual approach to design while still creating accessible garments. "My work is primarily based on exploring new structural solutions to clothe the human body," explains Throup, whose uncompromising approach to design and presentation has attracted the attention of influential names in fashion: Stone Island, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Topman, and the football brand Umbro are all eager to be associated with him.

Born to Argentinian parents in 1980, Throup lived in Spain before moving to Britain, where he grew up in Burnley. Graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2006, he received awards from Umbro, Evisu and Levi's before leaving college. His graduate collection, a synthesis of street sportswear and religious symbolism, entitled, "When Football Hooligans Become Hindu Gods", won the ITS#FIVE (International Talent Support) Fashion Collection of the Year Award in 2006.

Immediately wary of the cyclical nature of the fashion industry, Throup believes that the seasonal structure is liable to force ideas, which can result in collections that lack depth. "I'm not saying that all clothing should have a conceptual depth," he explains. "I'm just saying that mine does."

Throup's concept, Aitor Throup Tailoring, launched during London Fashion Week in 2007. His first clothing model was based on his distinct design process, which begins with his drawings of characters. These illustrations are converted into tiny sculptures, which then inform the patterns and shapes of the garments.

"Drawing has always been my main passion and interest," says Throup. "My work is about finding a reason to create or design anything. I am interested in justifying all design features and avoiding gratuitous detailing. I only believe in origin, process and innovation."

The Aitor Throup Tailoring concept involves the release of a single outfit every season, with the whole process becoming the product. So the final package includes a copy of the drawing, a replica of the sculpture, and the finished outfit.

For his first on-schedule catwalk presentation as part of the MAN menswear showcase at London Fashion Week, Throup created a film with photographer Jez Tozer. Entitled The Funeral of New Orleans, it was a response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Throup's collection told the story, through clothes, of how five members of a marching band protect themselves and their instruments. The presentation confirmed Throup's radical approach to both fashion design and the communication of his collections.

Recognising Throup's talent, and inviting him to collaborate on a project, was the president of Stone Island, Carlo Rivetti. "He has an original and personal point of view, and to have both talent and ideas that are not mainstream, obvious or unrealistic is very rare," he says. "His theories have roots in design and engineering, and his fascination with shape related to anatomy and function are very interesting."

As one of the driving forces behind the Stone Island label is research into fabric innovation and treatment, Rivetti invited Throup to view the archive, find a piece of interest to him, and reinterpret it. The result, the Modular Anatomy Stone Island jacket, is a limited-edition version of a traditional down jacket, and as Rivetti explains, "is brilliant, both handsome and clever". Next season, the second instalment, Articulated Anatomy, will develop further, with the release of four garments. The aim of the collaboration is to compile an Anatomy Series, with a new approach each season.

Throup's latest creative collaboration is with Umbro. Previously, Kim Jones, now creative director of Dunhill, gave Umbro a stronger fashion identity, so an opportunity awaits Throup to innovate and stamp his design identity on the brand. Jones and Throup share a design sensibility that creates wearable clothes. According to Throup, the collaboration is still at the development stage. "Umbro has an incredible football heritage, which, as a football fan, is amazing to explore," he says.

The inclusion of Throup's work in the current Fashion V Sport exhibition at the V&A confirms the acceptance of his work by the design establishment. "It's a great honour. The V&A is such a landmark of art and design, and for me, a key source of reference and inspiration," he says.

Throup is comfortable with his work being viewed in a gallery, but aware of the issues surrounding fashion being presented as art. "I think it certainly can be, but only if the work has enough content to be viewed beyond its aesthetic values," he says. "There's fashion that proclaims itself as art, perhaps because it's sculptural or unwearable, but if the depth of the process or concept behind it doesn't stretch beyond its surface, it's probably fashion, not art."

Throup admits to having an issue with the psychology of fashion shows, where the viewer is passive and static and the work is active. "So far, I've desperately tried to force conceptual ideas on to a sometimes disinterested audience." With the viewer having no control over how long to look at something, or from what angle, Throup is keen to challenge and ultimately change the conventions. "I prefer the idea of my work being static, and the viewer being active around it, exploring and analysing at will. But I don't want the work to lose any of its validity in the fashion world either. I guess I just partly want it to be a new way to look at fashion."

More positively, clothing, according to Throup, can simultaneously be viewed as art and be practical. He gives Stone Island's Ice Jacket as an example. Also, the work of other conceptual designers, such as Carol Christian Poell, Issey Miyake and Hussein Chalayan, successfully bridge the gap between art and fashion and are inspirational figures to him.

Although Throup thrives on his work crossing creative disciplines, he has a commercial sensibility. He recently designed some trousers for a Topman project, and is eager to further develop his own lines. "I definitely see a product line in the near future extending beyond the limitations of clothing," he enthuses. "I want eventually to create toys, books, animations, sculptures and drawings. I want to show everything."

Modular Anatomy by Aitor Throup is available from Dover Street Market, 17-18 Dover Street, London W1 (020-7518 0680), and from Stone Island, 46 Beak Street, London W1 (020-7287 7734);

Majoring in menswear: the ones to watch


Graduating from the Royal College of Art with an MA in menswear and accessories, Long's signature fabrics include leather and sheepskin. He fuses them with modern materials such as netting and plastics, to create hard, graphic silhouettes.


Massey completed her MA at the Royal College of Art in 2005. Obsessed by detailing and avoiding man-made fibres, Massey's work explores the sartorial code of "what it is to be a gentleman", and how this has been appropriated during times of social or civil unrest.


Shannon graduated from Central St Martins with an MA in menswear earlier this year. He references Northern style "scally" dressing by reworking shell suits and classic sports garments.


The Danish designer Hans Madsen graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2007 with an MA in knitwear. He is much admired for his well-crafted, beautiful clothes that reference Scandinavian knitting traditions.


Describing her design philosophy as "making real clothes that men actually want to wear by using a native approach to luxury dressing", the German designer Carola Euler graduated from Central Saint Martin's with an MA in fashion in March 2005. Her first spring/summer collection, for 2007, was called "Without a Ride", and was shown in September 2006 during London Fashion Week.

The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Year 5 Teacher

    £80 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Year 5 Teacher KS2 teaching job...

    Software Developer

    £35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

    Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

    Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album