John Burrows is an NCAD graduate whose recent ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ collection really caught my eye for all of the right reasons. It explored constrained ideas of masculinity in our society and also the restrictive dress of men. This graduate collection was just stunning.
His career is off to an amazing start with showing his pieces on the catwalk of the prestigious Cork Fashion Week as well as having interned with Irish Designer Helen Cody. I am delighted to be featuring him today and cannot wait to see what his future collections bring.
Have you always been interested in design?
I’ve always loved art and design, and from an early age always had the desire to draw and make things. Whenever I became interested in a subject I would explore it in depth bringing the different elements of the subject into my art and design work. I’ve always been interest in clothes, but It wasn’t until I went to college that I became fascinated with the fashion design process on a technical and conceptual level.
I love your bold aesthetic. Where do you find the inspiration for your work?
Thank you, I’ve found I am very structurally driven in my design work. I am naturally inclined to draw inspiration from the physical world, especially from objects with interesting structural elements. I think th1at is why I specialised in menswear for my degree collection because it gave me more freedom to exaggerate and play with structural masculine silhouettes.
There have been many different textiles used in your pieces. Is there a particular textile that you prefer to work with?
I’ve come to appreciate textile work in fashion. Initially I primarily focus on creating strong structural shapes, but now see how textile manipulation can add another dimension in clothing. I am particularly interested in fabric manipulation. In my ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ collection, I used a combination of drawstring ruching and laser cutting paisley motifs onto raw silk and neoprene. I became very interested in laser cutting as a textile technique. I loved how the laser physically burnt the paisley onto the fabric, giving it a primitive and raw, masculine feel.
Your ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ project had a powerful message behind it. Is it important to you to not only create great pieces but also to have a story behind them?
Its exciting trying to communicate concepts and thoughts in clothing. To be able to create a visual and wearable representation of a train of thought. I’m fascinated by ideas around gender and dress. With ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, I was specifically looking at society’s constrained ideas of masculinity and the restrictive dress of men. I took inspiration from the work of Austrian artist Egon Schiele who portrayed men in vulnerable postures and often in states of undress. This led to the collection’s main silhouettes being inspired by the deconstruction of traditional denim and biker jackets. Clothing is something we can all relate to and I think its a fantastic way of communicating ideas.
I believe that you have studied at NCAD – what has been the greatest thing that you have learnt while being there?
I loved my time studying fashion design at NCAD. Its hard to pinpoint one great thing, as I loved exploring all aspects of the fashion design process. I think learning about garment construction, from pattern drafting and fabric cutting, to technical sewing and physically creating the garments was for me the greatest thing.
With fast fashion being so mainstream over recent years and since we are now post-recession, do you think that we are slowly moving back to a place where we appreciate quality and the care that was put into creating the garment?
I hope we are moving back to that place. I have a high regard for design and garment construction, and feel that fast fashion has made us lose that appreciation for clothing. Clothes are often seen as disposable and readily replaceable and this can feel a bit soulless. Now with an upturn in the economy, the hope is that people will be more inclined to invest in more individual pieces that they love, and have an overall appreciation for the clothing that they have.
Do you think that it is important for aspiring designers to formally study?
To me formally training in fashion design was essential, but I know it is not the case for everyone. Having the creative freedom in college while working along side experienced tutors is really helpful in exploring one’s own process as a designer. In the industry having the opportunity to be freely creative is hard to come by, as there are many other factors to be considered. However working in the industry is vital in order to understand how the fashion world works as a business. I think its important to strike a balance between education and practical experience.
Would you have any advice for up and coming designers (something you wish you had been told!)
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist in my design work, but I think it is important to be experimental and allow the process to flow naturally. Don’t be afraid to play with ideas and learn from the mistakes you make as you work through the design process
What does the future hold for John Burrows?
I am currently working as a junior menswear designer for Diesel Ireland, and I’m learning so much there. I am eager to gain as much experience as possible in menswear at the moment and definitely see myself moving abroad at some stage. I would love to come back to my own design work though, It gives me so much satisfaction. I feel very lucky to have found a career I am so passionate about.
A massive thank you for John for doing the interview and I would highly recommend that you follow him on Instagram – I love his feed and it’s certainly one that I check on regularly. He is certainly someone that I can see growing into a house hold name in the future.
All images kindly provided by John for use.