The structural elements in the products that we use, the buildings we live in, the clothes that we wear and even the art that we create have a life cycle. Structural origins are functional and relevant but throughout time become deconstructed and nonfunctional. Eventually rooms in a house or construction details in a garment become nothing more than empty gesture. On the other hand, there are fully functional traditions that have been buried by empty gesture, like storytelling. Aitor Throup’s MA collection, “When Football Hooligans Become Hindu Gods”, is a three-dimensional comic that communicates the story of redemption and transcendence told through fabric structures that are based on a platform of football casual.
Throup’s wearable transformation from football hooligan to Hindu god
I was so excited to come across Throup’s work because he combines two of my main interests: comics and garment design. “One of the main elements of my work is what I call ‘branding through construction’. I have developed ‘blocks’ and ‘patterns’ based on my anatomical and sculptural studies, which have seams, construction lines and darts in totally unique places. These are all justified by my over-all aim to create three-dimensional, physical, wearable versions of my drawings/characters.” Here he introduces us to the collection:
After years of mixing with the wrong crowds on the terraces of most british football grounds, a group of hooligans (sometimes known as ‘casuals’) are beginning to doubt their deep rooted beliefs in the organised-violence underworld of football club loyalty.
the last THUD heard from yet another broken knuckle was enough to materialise the negative reality of a violent lifestyle to a group of eight soon-to-be hooligan ‘outcasts’…the pain of the fractured knuckle was overshadowed by the hardly audible pleas of the bloody faced indian boy.
a racist attack.
a sudden desperate need for forgiveness overcomes them.
the helpless victim looks up at them through his one dieing eye:
turns out the boy was a hindu.
Throup’s “transformation of Shiva”
Throup’s Shiva drawing
Throup’s Skanda drawing
Throup’s Narasimha drawing
Throup’s Hanuman drawing
Throup’s Ganesh drawing
Throup’s Airavat drawing
Throup’s Varaha drawing
Throup’s use of Harris Tweed in this collection goes to show that applications of the cloth have not been exhausted, and that it is still a relevant aspect of British heritage. “I am really interested in the significance of contrast – even to the extent of contradiction - within general visual culture. For me, fabrics are really important in creating a visual dialogue of contrasts and contradictions within my work, all of which are justified and informed by the concept or story behind it. Harris Tweed, like the other traditional wools I use extensively in my work, communicate a real sense of ‘Britishness’, of an almost old-fashioned nature. This creates a real contrast when seen next to the directional and future-focused man-made fibres used in the collection.”
“The more technical fabrics also provide a sense of British culture, but more specifically of the C.P. Company and Stone Island – led ‘CASUAL’ or ‘FOOTBALL HOOLIGAN’ sub-culture, specifically of the late 80s and the 90s (On which the over-all aesthetic of the collection is based). My work is generally very structured and technical (in terms of construction), to the extent of being sculptural. Using traditional wools, such as Harris Tweed, not only creates yet another unexpected contrast against the structural aspects of the pieces, it also facilitates the moulding and distortion of the fabric by using traditional (tailoring) heat application techniques.”
Throup’s Airavat, front detail
Throup’s Airavat, back detail
Speaking to Throup it became clear to me that his unique approach to design, backed by great imagination and common sense, will reset fashion’s life cycle, returning elements that are functional and relevant to our life. “We are becoming more ethical. It almost feels unethical to have trends ruthlessly dictated to us every six months. For me, that’s an already old–fashioned and irrelevant concept. I believe that the currency of tomorrow will be creativity, and the ability to successfully communicate it to others. Such creativity will be utilized and nurtured through story-telling, creating a platform around which both the designer/creator and user/consumer can interact with the product, in order to eventually UNDERSTAND it.”