Professional Style Farmer
- Mar 14, 2008
- Reaction score
Robert Geller Fall/Winter 2014
Words by: Ben P
Photos by: @artishard116
Photos by: @artishard116
My favorite part of my recent New York trip to cover Capsule and Liberty didn't take place during the tradeshows, but instead in a small showroom on Walker St., where I had a chance to talk to Robert Geller about his Fall/Winter 2014 collection and preview some of his favorite pieces.
I'll cut to the chase: the collection looks great. It's full of texture, and the pieces are weighty and cozy-looking. Old classics - wool-blend sweatshirts, a new, dressier take on the flight pant, the Seconds collection - are mixed in with new silhouettes. The outerwear is particularly strong, including a neoprene moto jacket which looks like it could stop bullets, as well as a high neck wool overcoat that looks perfect for anyone in the Northern hemisphere.
But who cares what I think? Here's what Robert had to say about his work.
Ben: What can we expect from F/W 14?
Robert Geller: It's a lot of textures. We focus a lot on… let me start with theme as a jumping off point. We started with the movie "The Man Who Fell to Earth", with David Bowie, and it's - to me - when he was looking the coolest. I like David Bowie a lot. During that time there was something really special about the way he dressed and his style, and it's an interesting story - he comes to Earth as an alien, and [its about] his experiences here. The movie itself is ok. It's fun to watch, it has that late 70's graininess and sound, which is cool. I like the idea of nature vs. tech, and you can see a lot of that in in the collection. We use a lot more manmade fabrics than we usually do, a lot more nylon and acrylics [from] Japan, which are very nice. Beautiful manmade fabrics. We mix [them] with a lot with heavy wools, washed wools. I think when most people think of Robert Geller they think of warm texture and brushed wools much more than slick nylon. It's not like this collection is the slick nylon collection, but it has a lot more of those fabrics in there. You're gonna see that. Tailoring is an emphasis [as well]. We have a wide range of tailoring, we have a strong tailored group with really strong shoulders, which we haven't done in a long time, and we have a range of very soft tailoring with soft shoulders [that’s] oversized. In terms of silhouette, we have a range. The bottoms are mainly slim and short, and the tops are quite bulky, slim and strong; playing around with proportions a lot. Color is also always important to me. This [collection] is moody and stark, but not black - we have some black - but there's a lot of petroleums, bordeauxs, oxbloods, anthracites. Almost blacks. I really love those colors. They're red, but almost black.
B: Are you bringing back any of your classic pieces? Sweatshirts?
RG: Yea we have sweatshirts, but we didn't do the dip dye for this season. We are doing the nice Japanese lightweight jersey sweatshirts that we always do. We have lots of hoodies. We have the zipper blazers. We have the Richard group, which we brought back in a nice new fabric. We always switch up the fabrics and the details a little bit, but these are the things that I think are really great, and they should keep coming back.
B: The classics.
RG: Yea. The Richard blazer [for example] has had eight different variations - different lengths, different variations and stuff, but you know what you're getting. People really like it, and it's understandable. It's a good price point, it's lightweight, it's like you're a little more dressed up.
B: Are there any new pieces or silhouettes you're particularly excited about?
Lots. We always do 90% new silhouettes [and pieces]. There's one technique we did for the first time, called needle punch. It's basically doubling up fabric, and the needle pulls through the primary fabric, through the back, and pulls little threads up from the [second] fabric [into the first fabric], and it creates new color combinations. You can vary how much it pulls out, and how heavily, and you can do gradients. We did a sort of gradient stripe onto wool coats and vests, which is a very beautiful technique. It's very expensive to do, but also very cool. We did this printed engineering stripe in two colorways on pants and on a tunic top. The knits this season are really great. I think you'll like them a lot. There's a lot of textures. [Both] visual textures and tactical textures within the knits, really high quality. We have neoprene back again. I like neoprene for its characteristic of holding a shape very well. There's a lot of study of shapes within this collection. When you work with neoprene you can create some interesting things.
B: Are you still collaborating with Common Projects?
RG: Yea, we continued that. They turned out great. We did a high gloss chelsea boot with a metal plate in the heel. It's a little slicker than things we usually do, but I think it looks great. We did a track shoe from last season, and [this season] we turned it into a high top. We have that in a black combo, and we also did [it in] blue with this mustard yellow. I'm super happy with the shoes.
B: In the past you've done clothing with Common Projects as well.
RG: When I first started talking to [them] it was just us hanging out after a show, having some drinks. It was meant to be a collaboration - a cross collaboration. It was something we came up with and really wanted to do. The problem is that it's really hard to sell it. It's hard to sell one jacket and one shirt. We tried, and it looked beautiful in the showroom, and stores would be interested, but how do they present it? They can't. There's real estate issues in the stores that you can't just have one shirt and one jacket - they don't know how to buy it. We either [would have to do] a full collection, which we wern't ready to do in terms of capacity, or we had to just stick to the shoes. I loved doing the clothes with those guys [though].
B: Have you ever thought about doing your own shoes, or does Common Projects fill that need for you?
RG: They do fill that need. I believe in partnering up with people who are better at doing things than I am. They make great shoes and have a great business. Our collections align very well. Most of the time when I see someone wearing Robert Geller they're wearing Common Projects. It just goes hand in hand. They also have the infrastructure to do it right, and they know how to do it. [In the past] we've made sneakers and shoes, but the development costs are crazy. Building a last. We can do much more interesting things with Common Projects.
B: Do you have any other collaborations in the works?
For Spring collections we do sunglasses. For this Fall we really pulled it back. We just did the shoes - although out hats are from Kashuta in Japan - but other than that nothing else. We wanted to really focus on the collection. We brought Seconds back. It's fun for Spring to do the sunglasses and the jewelry.
B: In the past you've talked about how it can be hard to sell your more adventurous pieces to consumers. What would you say to convince one of our readers to give something new a try?
RG: The thing is this - the way I personally wear clothes is this. My wardrobe is 90% of the things the stores buy as well, it's not as if I'm so out there. But every one or two seasons, I like to pick up the more special pieces. Those are the pieces that later on [become] the Holy Grail piece because everyone missed it, because it was never produced. It's scarier, it's more expensive, but it's more special.
B: It's worth it in the long run.
RG: Yea. I wouldn't fill my whole wardrobe with these type of showpieces, but it's good to have as an option.
B: Where do you see the brand moving in the next few seasons?
RG: I think we're on a really good trajectory. My plan is... I look at someone like Dries Van Noten. He has a huge business, but he's done it in such a way that everyone respects him. You can never feel that he sold out. He's grown [his business] in a really nice way. He has five or six stores in the world. The ones I've seen are all very pretty. I feel like he's taken his time with it. That's the way I want to do it. I want to make sure I sell to the right stores, I want to grow it. I eventually want to have my own store. When it opens I want it to be really beautiful, and I want it to be in the right place and at the right time. I'm not in a rush. I'm happy where I am. I love coming to work in the morning. I really enjoy creating the collections. I feel like I have a lot to learn. I'm getting better each season. Hopefully I'll still be around and keep building on what we have. Grow slowly, and do those small expansions - opening up a store here [in New York], opening up a store in Tokyo.
B: Have you thought about an online shop?
RG: We've looked into it. My cousin, who just finished studying at Columbia University, had two months [off] and he asked me if I had something I wanted him to look into it, and he looked into an online shop, what it costs. I'm not there, personally, to do it. It's something you have to do right. You have to have someone who just works on that. I'm not there, but it is interesting in terms of business, because of the margins you get. I've talked to so many people about it, and it's not that easy - it's not an easy formula where you just open up your store and it's all good. There's a lot of issues, a lot of returns, and all this bullshit you have to deal with. I know it's not easy.
B: Do you see retail changing in the future? The current seasonal model?
RG: It's interesting. I've talked to a lot of people about it. You [hear] that [physical] stores are going to be gone, you just have a wall where you project [and photograph] your clothes, and [stores] just have an avatar that [they use to model the clothes]. That sounds horrible. I don't think that’s ever going to be true. Maybe for some things, but that just sounds like the worst. I love going to stores ten million times more than shopping online. Maybe it's a generational thing. I like touching and finding things, picking things up, trying them on. You can't replace that. The romance of that. If you go shopping for that romance, for the excitement of clothing, you don't really have that online. That will never be replaced. If you're just buying for necessity - saying "I need a new sweater" - and going online to get something, it's easy and amazing. In terms of that, it's very nice, but I don't think the experience of, say, going to If, just to see what they have, and then finding something and saying "I love this thing" and buying it, and you wear it for the first time and you feel so good. That experience is really special. You can measure a garment, but you can never truly tell how it's going to fit you. You need to try it on. The way the fabric falls, you can't tell that online. I'm not an advocate for either [buying online or in person], but you can't replace [the online] experience.
B: What do you think of pre-selling straight off the runway?
RG: It's really interesting. It challenges keeping it fair with retailers who place their orders on the belief that they have the customer, but don't have the orders in already. Imagine if you have a store that does preorders, and you have a store that does regular buying and is placing their order, and if they sell 50% of it, they still have to pay for the goods. But the store that does pre-orders, they already have the orders, and it's unfair competition. It's a bit of an issue. If everyone switched to pre-orders, and that's the new model, it could be quite successful.
B: Two final questions - are you going to bring back the hooded bomber jackets?
RG: We do it periodically. We didn't do one this season. But I love it.
B: There's a chance in the future?
RG: Oh we will. It's always done well for us. But sometimes you have to skip something for a few seasons to get people excited. But I love that jacket, I love the shape.
B: Any final thoughts?
RG: I read StyleForum, and for me it's amazing honest gauge of what people think. There's days when it's rough, and there's days when it's good, but if someone says "shit, I had an issue with my buttons," I'm going to go and make sure it doesn't happen again. I don't want people to [be afraid] that I'm reading, I love it. I don't read all the time, but I do check in from time to time.
Robert Geller Fall/Winter 2014 Collection Preview