RSVP: AllSaints Celebrates 25 Years

V had an exclusive talk with Wil Beedle, chief creative director of AllSaints.

On November 14, several notable guests gathered at Chateau Marmont to celebrate the 25th anniversary of AllSaints. The event welcomed several talented individuals, among them, musician Rainey “Rainsford” Qualley, photographer, Cameron McCool, actress Bria Vinaite, film director Gia Coppola and the Chief Creative Director of AllSaints, Wil Beedle.

All of the guests donned pieces from AllSaints recent collections but were also received customized t-shirts made by Emily Labowe of Poppy Undies. The shirts were a nod to the brand’s 1994 inception and were decorated with custom phrases.

As guests mingled amongst the melodies from Arsun, DJs Miles Hendrick and Honey, and Hateboy, they sipped on wine provided by Gia Coppola Wine and a Yola Mezcal signature cocktail.

For those who were not able to attend, don’t fear, V was able to speak with Wil Beedle on his perspective of the brand, his inspiration, and the promising future he sees for AllSaints.

When did you first realize your passion for fashion design?

 My parents recently showed me a photo from a ‘punk’ party I threw for my eighth birthday. In it, I’m wearing my father’s Bruce Springsteen ‘Born in the USA’ tour T-shirt but worn the wrong way around because I remember thinking that the graphic on the back was cooler, and probably more ‘punk.’ I probably didn’t have any specific articulation of what ‘fashion’ was at the time, but the seeds were being sown at a pretty early age.

Where do you draw inspiration from when you’re designing?

 That’s a big question, but simply put, our global community. I don’t think there is a singular, easily-defined AllSaints woman or man. That’s the beauty of the brand, for me. The more AllSaints grows, and the more I travel around the world meeting people who engage with the brand, the more I’ve come to understand that AllSaints is a uniform without uniformity; we provide a wardrobe, a platform and a brand spirit. But individuals will then add their own individuality, their own attitude, and wear the clothes in a way that fits their own lifestyle.

We did a presentation during New York Fashion Week a few years ago and I was trying to find a title that might fit – a punchy way of expressing AllSaints’ slightly twisted way of taking classics and reimagining them for current times. The hotel had Frank Sinatra singing ‘New York New York’ through the TV as a welcome soundtrack. Struggling to find the right button on the remote control to turn it off, I was stuck listening to the track for a few seconds. “It’s up to you, New York, New York…

That was my title. “It’s Up To You.”

Not one single person in New York got the context of the title! No one knew it was about New York. No one realised it was Sinatra. But everyone interpreted that title to be a call-to-action. A cool way of expressing how our consumers interact with AllSaints. It’s a catalyst for individual expression. It’s why I often refer to our collections as a uniform without uniformity. It’s not about total looks. We shouldn’t be telling people how to look or how to behave. It’s up to them to decide. It’s up to you.

AllSaints is known for its youthful eccentricity. How do you focus on staying ahead of trends?

 The longer AllSaints exists as a brand – and we’re celebrating 25 years right now – the more I realise what our true values are. We operate and behave independently. I don’t say that cheaply, as some kind of marketing slogan; it’s entirely genuine. And I feel strongly that it’s this independence that makes AllSaints unique, outside of passing trends. No one has told us what to do, how to operate, who to collaborate with, what to produce. I’m really proud of the fact that we’ve never relied on the conventions of seasonal catwalk shows, and we’ve never had to pay big-name industry creatives to in some way validate our work.

Ultimately, I’m a great believer in the idea that a brand is simply a reflection of the vibe and attitude of the people within it; and this free-thinking, unshackled, confident, independence that resides in our team rubs off on the clothes, and the people who wear them.

In three words, how would you describe the aesthetic of AllSaints?

Individuality. Independence. #ItsUpToYou.

Among all of the contemporary pieces in your current collection, which one is your favorite?

It changes every day. I tend to wear the season that’s coming rather than what’s in store. Right now, I’m wearing a silk scorpion print paisley from the coming season. Being able to wear it over and over and hone and perfect it long before the consumers see it makes sure that we get the styles that have the right versatility to express both the brand’s and the individual’s attitude.

In celebration of 25 years of AllSaints, can you reminisce on some of the most pivotal moments for the brand’s success?

Showing my first collection as AllSaints’ creative director in New York, I chose to present the collection in a huge loft on Mercer Street which used to be a knitting factory. We made the whole presentation a living-and-breathing factory performance, akin to how I imagined Warhol’s Factory to operate. There was live floral drawing going on in one corner, a photoshoot of the city’s young bands in the other, then a group of midtown Manhattan’s S&M dominatrix were being interviewed and filmed wearing the fetish-inspired women’s footwear collection by the front door. And in amongst all of that was the collection – and me, beaming like a kid in a candy store. The moment was pivotal because it was, to me, the first distillation of what the brand could be – multi-faceted, and with the spirit and attitude of East London transplanted to somewhere the other side of the world, being taken out of my hands, but being given new meaning.

You were appointed Chief Creative Officer of AllSaints in 2012. What have you learned in your last 7 years of executive and creative jurisdiction?

Doing things at the right moment is the essence of fashion. Early enough to surprise, but not too early that you get ignored. There are dozens of ideas, and designs, and fabrics, and people, and places, that never made it to fruition at AllSaints. Because the timing wasn’t quite right. I’ve considered bringing them back at a later date. But it never works out. Timing is everything. Even for a brand that often eschews passing trends in favor of timelessness. It’s the most important thing I’ve learned over the past seven years.

As the brand’s visionary, how do you instill your personal touch on the brand’s designs as a whole?

By keeping both eyes wide open, remaining eternally curious, never feeling satisfied, and trusting my instincts, no matter how oblique they might seem at the time.

What do you see for the future of AllSaints?

Right now, I have two main goals for the future. Firstly, I’m hugely drawn to the evolution of AllSaints as a brand around the world. Taking it into new cities, with new customers who will interpret what we do in entirely new and unexpected ways. The other major evolution in the AllSaints story is the creation of our off-shoot brand called Shoreditch Ski Club, which has had great traction at ‘designer’ rather than ‘contemporary’ level in the fashion market. Crudely put, the price-point is higher, and it naturally fits alongside what are deemed more ‘luxury’ brands. We debuted our first Shoreditch Ski Club collection last winter, and one fashion critic described it as “eco-punk alpine skiwear for yummy mummies who never leave the city.” That’s about right.

Photography by musicians Dylan Peterson and Cici Valentine.
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