Taking inspiration from classic tailoring techniques, Thomas Sehne considered his immediate surroundings in London to build a concept that challenges classic menswear in contemporary culture. Closely investigating the monotonous, tailored suits of bankers and other office workers on their way to work, he wondered if their way of dressing is in fact a uniform, rather than a representation of individuality. “Are we really what we portray to be through our choice of dress, or are there conflicts in regards to who we are and what we wear?”
After setting the initial mood and story, Thomas began to develop his ideas further by examining basic, mundane office wear. This led him to delve into the construction of a garment rather than the silhouette as the main focus of tailoring. “A garment we believe we know so well, we might not even pay attention to it. I wanted to create a certain depth in what seems to be so common and obvious.”
Through the sampling of details and construction, he continuously refined his ideas in order to develop a concept that could be carried through a whole collection. Reflecting aspects of design and tailoring, which was essential to his practice, Thomas aimed for his garments to feel familiar yet intriguing and thought-provoking to the viewer. “Interestingly, the pieces that might seem the most straight-forward and classic, were some of the hardest to develop.”
The main concept stemmed from the idea of a single garment having several identities within, revealing or changing itself, based on the angle it is viewed from. What appears to be a classic straight leg wool trouser from the front can turn into an elasticated nylon trouser from the back, giving a complete different character to the garment. From this, Thomas introduced the idea of layers within a person’s personality through tailored jackets and trousers using layers and fabric combinations. “Taking into consideration the corporate times we live in, I feel that this collection examines the conflicts that arise with it in regards to human individuality.”
As Thomas explains the need for a foundational understanding of garments, he emphasises the necessity of studying the construction and finishing of pre-existing garments, such as vintage pieces. This approach to understanding a garment allows young designers to push and adapt his or her own designs towards a better constructed and developed collection.
Thomas’ graduate collection is an exploration of various classic menswear elements. It communicates values that are important to him (attention to detail, sustainability, and quality), not only as a designer and but also as an individual. In the midst of the fast-paced fashion industry, Thomas notes that there should be more to a garment than just its appearance. “I hope that I can further communicate these values through my designs, hopefully inspiring other like-minded people out there.”
“Having taken inspiration from rather generic ‘office tailoring’, the idea was to keep the fabrics as well as colours rather clean, almost sober in feeling.” The essence of his collection lies in the classic tailoring, in terms of construction as well as the fabrics and the finish of each garment. By visiting traditional Yorkshire mills, he was able to find beautiful qualities of Mohair for the tailoring. Choosing from the mill’s wide range of stock colours, the colour palette was especially suited to the theme of the collection.
Thorough research becomes the foundation in which a designer is able to develop a conceptual starting point to a collection. It is vital to always have a garment in mind, and to think about how it might function. Thomas achieves this by refining his ideas through countless sampling throughout the process of design, which results in a thoroughly thought through and well-finished garment. “While I personally enjoy a focused and directional style of working, I believe it is important to always keep an open mind throughout the process. Sometimes we find solutions and inspiration in places we least expect them in.”
Words Soeun Grace Ahn