Browns Focus: Conner Ives
“I want my customer to have an undying wish to look unique,” says Conner Ives of his work. The playful CSM-schooled designer (whose creations were spotted on Rihanna before he’d even graduated) is known for his mixture of wit, personality and sustainability, all of which coalesce in his latest collection. Based on 90s mail-order catalogues, the young designer brings the pieces to life through an exclusive photo series for our Browns Focus series. Below, he tells us more.
Hey Conner! Can you tell us a bit about the concept you created for Browns Focus?
The collection was a distillation of some of my favourite pieces from my last two collections. It also serves as the first exclusive launch of pieces from my newest collection; The American Dream. The pieces are made from vintage and dead-stock to produce a run of one-of-a-kind pieces.
For these images, we wanted to riff on the theme of 90s mail-order catalogues. Before the internet and online shopping; these publications were a work of art. So much emphasis was put into making each girl an individual; and I think that’s something we can learn from today.
What is it about these publications that inspired you?
I just loved how new these felt looking at them in 2021. My goal is to create something that is both new and nostalgic. I think nostalgia has such a power; it’s a force that connects us all. I loved the characters; and the joy in the images. I think in fashion; things can get very serious very quickly. And why? It’s clothes! It should be fun. So my goal here was to bring that back.
The images you created, and the catalogues that inspired them, contain really distinctive characters. Which one are you?
I have a bit of each one in me. But if we’re talking specifically about style; lately I feel like I dress as a tomboy. I love the idea of masculinity interpreted through a woman’s perspective; as it feels much more sensitive. I love the low waist baggy pants; tight tops.
Describe the Conner Ives wearer. Where do they shop and what’s their starsign? Paint a picture.
Oooh this is fun! Well, I think she’s definitely an eccentric. She has a masterful ability to combine high and low; as I try to do with my pieces. She has no one shop; an avid fan of Portobello Road market, but she also loves Browns.
I’m biased but she’s probably a cusp sign; born on the day between two signs. I’m an Aries/ Taurus cusp and I love the duality it presents. I can read two horoscopes and choose my favourite!
How do the elements that inspired your Browns Focus project speak to your wider vision as a designer?
I always aim to create a developed nostalgia in the imagery. I think this is a theme in the work. Vintage t-shirts reconstituted for new use. I love that this isn’t just a textile technique; but rather a larger gesture or theme in my work.
When approaching a collection, what’s your starting point?
My most recent collection was a study of American female archetypes, and pushing forward the evolution of Americana. I want to tease out unique perspectives and viewpoints; as I’ve grown tired of cowboy boots and hats. Not to say that I’ve rejected them; I just think there’s so much more to America than those.
Who would you most like to see wearing the pieces from your Browns Focus collection and where do you envisage them wearing these?
I would love to see my pieces on girls that have fun! That is always who I design for; girls who love what they’re wearing. So I try to make clothes that people will love based on print, aesthetic, and comfort.
I hope people can wear these pieces this summer; at a time when we start to have some more freedom. What’s good about the pieces however is they are just as suited to lying around the house as they are putting with a heel and going out for dinner. I hope girls get to dance in the pieces; I hope they get to feel sexy. That’s all I could ask for.
How would you describe your relationship with Browns?
Browns is family to me now! They gave me my start in this industry and believed in me at the ripe age of 22. I will never forget that. They gave me the confidence to stand behind my product. I will never take that for granted; nor forget it.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m a tease! So I’d never come out and tell you. But I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve...
Discover more from Browns Focus: Series One here.
Creative Director: Conner Ives
Assistant Creative Director: Inga Praskeviciute
Photographer: Ilya Lipkin
Models: Elspeth Wright @ Milk, Madison Wells and Sameera Hannan @ IMG
1st Assitant: Andrew Moores
2nd Assistant: Maxwell Tomlinson
Art Director: Isabella Bruuton
Producer: Chloe Stevens
Hair Stylist: Franziska Presche
Hair Assistant: Kia Sewell
Make-Up Artist: Thomasin Waite
Casting: Emma Mattel
Interview: Georgia Graham
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