Interviewed by Justine Iaboni
Photography by Irina Luca
Effortlessly cool, Klaxon Howl is the menswear line designed by Toronto’s Matt Robinson. When he unveiled his nautical-inspired collection, the clothes were streamlined, functional and, sure, kind of pretty. He mixed raw materials like denim and leather with impermeable jackets and multi-pocketed vests. Trenches and pea coats came in navy and black, and some models wore muddy combat boots while others kept it classy with patent leather oxfords. Surely Robinson’s muse, the fisherman’s friend guy with the curly mustache, served as the epitome of the collection in a shearling vest, knitted toque and cargo pants. Another winning look featured a salmon-coloured shirt paired with dark blue, wide leg jeans and dark brown coat. The show ended with a beautiful tableau as the models posed, scattered across the runway in front of anchor props and antique spotlights. We caught up with Robinson backstage to get the inside scoop behind his fall aesthetic:
Q+A With Matt Robinson of Klaxon Howl
FILLERmagazine (FM): The collection looks like you spotted the “nautical” theme and took it out for dinner. Would you say that’s an apt description?
I think it’s applicable. The collection is inspired by this sort of working man’s clothing. You know, I work in these clothes; I want to feel like I can move in them and get them dirty. But at the same time, many of the pieces translate well into a more formal setting. Like some of the jackets and the suit – those can easily be worn out while also giving you the flexibility and comfort of daywear and work wear. Like you could have a couple of beers in them and it wouldn’t matter.
FM: The denim we saw on the runway looked raw – no stretch, no wash. The jeans, for instance: were those original creations or vintage pieces?
They were original creations but that’s just it. I don’t use any synthetic materials in my collection. Everything has a very raw, organic quality. I won’t do any modernized techniques when cutting the materials, so that gives them that dated quality you’re seeing on the runway. Even the suit; I’ve eschewed tailoring aspects that normally go into structuring a suit, which gives it that unstructured look.
FM: When a guy puts on a Klaxon Howl piece do you think it’s like playing dress-up or do you think the clothes can be transformed and redefined depending on the guy?
Well, it’s like what Frank Sinatra said, “It’s not the hat, but how you wear it.” Take this trench coat for instance [Robinson’s son Damian models it for me]. To start, the material is practical, which is what I was talking about earlier; felt-lined, waterproof – it’s a utility coat. Now, let’s say he gets cold – well, he can pop up the collar like so and do this top button. He’s transformed the coat to not only fit his practical needs, but also popping the collar gives the entire outfit a totally different look.
FM: This focus on how things look is key to your aesthetic. You’ve always said film and photography have influenced you. How does that interest in those mediums translate into fashion?
Film and photography capture a particular moment in time in terms of style and fashion along with other things. I’m always looking at old photographs and old movies; I’m a huge history buff. It’s these older references and older looks that spawn inspiration. You can take old suiting and tailoring in a black and white film and infuse that aesthetic into something more modern. I like to have fun with these sorts of things. For this collection I was really focused on old photographs of sailors and marines, but then I made it my own and the result is what you saw tonight on the runway.