A love of craft, an appetite for precision, an obsession with forging a global brand that’s not based on shouty loudness and social media-contrived exclamations — these are some of the qualities that underpin Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe. The young Northern Ireland-born designer took over the helm of the venerable Madrid house (founded in 1846) in 2013, and has infused Loewe with soul (those loose-thread embroidered sweats and winged hats speak volumes); humour (the Puzzle bag and Elephant key purses); neo-hippie credentials (Paula’s Boutique tie-up) and a serious craft backbone, with the designer instituting the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize in 2017.
With this determined and deliberate recalibration, Anderson has remapped a brand that leaned bourgeois under Stuart Vevers and given it a big-hearted, quirky character that chimes with the holistic-leaning, matcha latte-drinking vibes within us.
Anderson oversees 14 collections a year between Loewe and his eponymous London label, and is admired for his agility and polymath skills. He values “imperfection” over hard-edged gloss, leans to asymmetry over executive slick and thrives on interaction — the Your Picture / Our Future photographic competition launched for his own brand attracted thousands of entrants.
Loewe clothes do ask for some kind of communion, interaction — they’re not obviously powerful, slick or sexual. The pick from the women’s Autumn line-up includes fringe-edged blanket coats made in an ingenious patchwork of leather and plaid; poetic knits interwoven with ribbons and feathers; and “magic” dresses that flow from knit into a sheer organza pin-tucked skirt. For men, while many of the pieces are gender-fluid, Anderson has sketched out an adventurer figure in houndstooth trousers with giant leather patch pockets, stripy long johns, contrast-lapel tuxedos (one ivory, one black) and floral patchwork shirts.
There’s a club-like following for Loewe. Fans, who are likely to share a taste for kombucha, retro acoustic and bicycles, are drawn to the ergonomic aesthetics, the warm nostalgic echoes and the enlightened mood. The Bond Street store is more akin to a craft gallery, with ceramic works and hand-knotted rugs sharing space with the collections.
Anderson grew up in semi-rural Ireland, and his bond with nature runs deep. He launched the Eye/Loewe/Nature capsule of utility pieces for men and sportsmen, while he himself volleys between his East London studio and a Norfolk coastal getaway. The sea air is clearly doing him good.