For British designer Olly Shinder, the fact that his Central Saint Martins graduation collection didn’t go viral isn’t a big deal.
After all, his bachelor’s collection still connected him “with the magazines that interested me the most, with Dover Street Market,” he told WWD, recalling retailers calling and him contacting Adrian Joffe.
As that has led him to a spot on Dover Street Market Paris as of this season, clicks can’t keep up.
The 23-year-old has always felt he was interested in fashion, but “coming from a relatively conservative family” didn’t feel the interest was encouraged.
Growing up in London, “he made a point [of] going to every single art show,” which eventually led him to see fashion retrospectives at the Barbican.
London’s Dover Street Market also offered an enriching experience of ‘Clothing in Art’ with no purchase required. “Even if I’m just visiting[ing] [the store] You casually walk away with something – a new idea or a new way of looking at things just because you stumbled upon the collection of [designers] that are sold there,” he explained.
From then on, “he just became obsessed. I just wanted to immerse myself in the culture,” he confessed. Before long, Shinder was busy sneaking into nightclubs.
Not just any clubs, mind you. “It was Vogue Fabrics where Loverboy happened back then, [so] It was like I was already getting a taste of the London fashion scene,” he protested cheerfully.
At the same time, he cultivated his newfound interest – and obsession with quality, well-made clothes – through an internship at Phoebe Philo-era Celine and later for vibrant independent brands like GmBH.
“I wanted to design uniforms for the Olympics, I wanted to work for all the airlines. I basically wanted to be a kind of designer for world uniforms,” he said. So much so that it was a point he made in his 2016 cover letter to be accepted at Central Saint Martins.
Another experience that shaped Shinder’s path was working as a trim designer for Swedish technical workwear specialists Snickers. This not only sharpened Shinder’s love of worn clothing, but also helped separate notions of utility and gender.
Hence his vision of the Olly Shinder brand as a type of function-oriented uniform that wouldn’t look out of place in a mountaineering shop – with a twist.
It’s what else he can throw into the mix that really drives him. “These are the things that differentiate and subvert the world of workwear and uniforms,” he added gleefully, coining “luxury utility” as a description of what resulted from his desire to “make archetypal clothing out of unmanufactured material.” [for] it.”
Cue details like the intricate pleats down the front of a jacket, luxurious lingerie-level textiles, and an airtight, waterproof zipper for decoration, all aimed at “feeling more personal to the wearer rather than being a spectacle of sorts.”
This entirely London-made line currently retails around £200 for Polartec fleece tops and shorts, between £800 and £1,200 for trousers with a three-way zip detail at the knee, and up to £2,750 for the jacket with the intricate one lacing and the triangular pleats he called “the crocodile”.
By looking at his clothes up close, “Shinder hopes people will see and feel that the clothes are worth what they’re being sold for,” he said.
For him, attending Dover Street Market Paris is an opportunity to take stock of his degree while reflecting on next steps. For example, continuing to refine its price range, but also creating a structure that “is kind of sustainable and satisfies me as a designer” while “feels ethically right,” he outlined.
Shinder joins DSMP’s stable of 14 brands, all operating under different business agreements that may include brand development, production and distribution, with Comme des Garçons’ own organization.
His graduation collection, available in stores Spring 2023, will be presented October 2-6 during Paris Fashion Week alongside Dream Baby!, ERL, Honey F–king Dijon, Vaquera, Weinsanto and Stefano Pilati’s relaunched Random Identities.