Sunday, 5 February 2012

A Decade of Topshop's NEWGEN Initiative - T-shirt Time!

[All images from the Topshop Facebook page, with stylisation of t-shirt images by me]. 
 In honour of reaching the 10 year milestone in supporting new design talent, Topshop will be releasing t-shirts created by 20 of its nurtured stars. The collection is not only an innovative way of bringing high-end creativity to the high street, but it's also a great way to challenge the designers and get them to translate their ideas onto basic t-shirt shapes. At a very reasonable £30 each, the products also raise money for the charity Centrepoint, so it's also giving something back to the wider community. Participants include Meadham Kirchhoff, who produced a wide-eyed print of a doll, and Mary Katrantzou, who used her trademark floral graphic design to make a busy and engaging blue and pink piece that will fly off the shelves. 

I've selected four of my favourite designs to give you a taste of what is to come, with each accompanied by one of the ten personal facts that Topshop gleaned from the creators. You can shop the collection from 17th February - be prepared to fight me for the Gareth Pugh number.

Erdem's design is like an old toile print. It reminded me of the Scottish design duo Timorous Beasties, who updated the toile for the 21st century by turning it into a cheeky urban wasteland narrative of syringes and concrete. Erdem has modernised the toile with the shape of this t-shirt and the lace Peter Pan collar, making it perfect for wearing with cut-off denim shorts in the summer. Although he hasn't subverted the design as Timorous Beasties did, he's still made it his own, and it feels fresh and quirky.  

Craig Lawrence opted for layers of painted gold that hang like giant threads. As he likes knitting in his work then it feels right to have gone for something chunky and substantial. It's bold, unsubtle and the design won't date. Thumbs up.

I like that Marios Schwab shared his name for the t-shirt. 'Crystal Explosion' feels very appropriate! His radical shaping of the fabric, using a buckle fastening, is interesting because it allows the tail end of the t-shirt to gather, which is more like an implosion than an explosion. I love the colours that artist Tom Gallant used in the print, as well - it's an almost Christmassy mix of red, green, yellow and orange.

I definitely saved the best til last. Gareth Pugh is one of my fashion idols and he didn't disappoint with his NEWGEN t-shirt offering. Eye-popping prints are one of his specialities, so it's only fitting that they formed the design. I like how the pattern filters down to a point and doesn't cover the fabric completely. I also love the fact that Pugh says he worked at Topshop for three months as a Visual Merchandiser but was sacked, and didn't have a meeting of minds with the store manager. It's amusing to think that the very same manager might be selling Pugh's t-shirt with very gritted teeth.

The whole collection looks fantastic and there's a wide range of styles due to the variety of designers who have taken part. Here's to another decade of Topshop's NEWGEN initiative!

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