In the gum ball machine of heritage Americana and Milanese tailoring permutations that were the trade shows a few months ago, William Watson was a licorice jawbreaker—sweet, but dark and spicy, an acquired taste for most—with his distinctive mix of English tweeds, and minimalist 3-D collar shirts, and skulls… and braided hair. Watson’s designs are a statement of stark contrast between the ideas of cold, modern architecture and organic, primal desires. He brings an honest, inspiring point-of-view to the New York scene and it is my honor to share with you the little sit-down I shared with this brilliant creative mind.
Describe to us your aesthetic.
Traditional menswear with an eye keenly fixed on the future.
You do a lot of 3-D fabrications in your clothing. What inspires this?
The three-dimensionality is mainly inspired by the elements in modern architecture. Our conventional perception of a building’s shape and structure is being challenged. This is much like the 3-D elements in my designs, I am building the unconventional shapes on top of traditional silhouettes.
How do you achieve this effect with different fabrics?
I start with building 3 dimensional paper mock ups to work out the shapes I want. It takes a lot of trial and error and very precise paper patterns.
A recurring element in your collection in the past few seasons seems to be the heavy coat lined in a summery fabric. Tell us more about this.
They serve the dual purpose of adding a bright pop to the garments in a subtle and wearable way, and since all of the linings are sourced locally in NY, its a way of supporting the local fashion industry.
Tell us more about your fascination with hair: goat hair, fake human hair, loose and braided. What message are you trying to put forth?
It all started with a photograph from my Fall 2012 collection. I used a female model to show my detachable collars and was instantly drawn to her massive dramatic braids. I loved the idea of mixing this very organic and dare I say primitive element with the cleaner looks.
You’re originally from the UK, and I see a lot of it in your work, from the use of tweeds and tailoring, and the experimental nature of your designs. How does your English heritage play into your work?
My English heritage is undeniably a part of who i am as a designer. I use the traditional garments as both a jump off point for my collection as well as a guideline to give structure and direction to my creativity.
Your belted jackets are done in an interesting drop-waist silhouette. What makes you prefer this silhouette for men as opposed to having coats cinched in the traditional waist?
The modern men’s natural waistline has dropped from the traditional waist to the hip over the last few decades. But the belted waist of the trench coat has not followed suit. The drop waist on my trench is creating a more updated and comfortable silhouette.
Describe the man who wears your clothes.
He is a creative professional that views fashion and style as a form of self-expression.
What are your plans for the future?
My long term goal is a global full lifestyle brand on the scale of the great fashion houses of Italy and France. For the more immediate future, I am growing the men’s line, and starting to explore the women’s market.