Menswear designer Jeff Griffin moved his brand from London to the countryside and embraced the natural world. One of a series of interviews brought to you by the Heineken Ideas Brewery.
PSFK recently spoke to Jeff Griffin, cult designer of Griffin Menswear, about his move from London to the rural village of Hartland in the South West of England as a way to truly embody what his brand represented. Inspired by Heineken’s new challenge to reinvent the Draught Beer Experience, PSFK.com has interviewed change-making creatives who are constantly reinventing the world around them. Mixing up urban elements with the practical bits of the outdoors has impacted Griffin’s design because the clarity that being in nature has provided has helped him to create long lasting garments that can withstand nature’s wear. His love for the outdoors also led him to develop Loveland Farm, an eco-retreat that is built using the latest green technologies with the goal of one day operating on a fully self-sufficient basis.
How has the transition from city to country helped you re-imagine your brand?
We were based in London like most of the British brands, that’s where we had to be. But with the internet we could spread our wings. After 15 years, I needed a new journey and experience. I love fashion, I am fashion, and need to be inspired. As I got older and stopped going to the clubs, I needed a new input. You grow up and your style grows up. I wasn’t scared about that at all. People are terrified of aging. I don’t see that at all. I wasn’t worried about moving away from it. We aren’t a brand that follows trends, we lead with what we love to do. Being here has given me time to think. There were too many influences at the design studio in London. Walking across cliff tops here my mind is totally clear.
What impact has nature had on your design work? How has your creative process shifted?
It has completely shifted because I am such an urban person. It’s nice to start mixing things up from the outdoors. I started to think how unpractical things are. In cities people are into the outdoors but have clean, nice boots. Nature isn’t about concrete pathways.
I’m thinking about more practical things like the changing of the seasons, things that are sustainable, quality, and things are going to last a long time. Not throwaway fashion. The more restrictions you have the more creative you become. I’m not so influenced by what I see around me. I’m now able to mix everything up. Having climbers and cyclists stay at the campsite, you learn what people are racing out of London to do on their weekend pursuits.
The input is interesting from these people. In past it was club culture, now my influences are much more sports oriented. Mixing everything up whether that’s looking at sleeping bags and thinking about how you can turn them into coats, as well as movement and how fabrics can work with the outdoors.
What gap in the market were you trying to fill with Loveland Farms? Why did you think this idea would appeal to people?
We went to an area not so easy to get to. I’ve always loved the extremes of where I’ve lived. When I lived in Notting Hill it was quite intense. On the edge of cliff tops it’s very similar. When I was traveling the world and staying at boutique hotels, like the Soho House or Standard that’s all about style, it’s still a box in a bigger box.
We’ve tried to put our box in the middle of a rural scene. It’s like camping but a bit more luxurious. What’s appealing is the experiences. After traveling around the world, the things that stand out are our experiences and the design related things you see across the world.
The campsite only holds so many tents. There is only one dome. We have a burner, growing wood, solar panels for electricity, low voltage LED lighting over the platform. We’re just trying to question and also to give some answers. We have our own livestock and grow our own vegetables. Being in a city, you have all this knowledge thrown at you, out here, I’m learning loads from how things grow and am getting more and more into the seasons.
What are you currently working on, and how do you envision the future of design and nature?
We’re opening ten stores in Japan in September, working on an autumn/winter 2013, catwalk show, and preparing the campsite since there is a wedding happening this weekend. People are looking for more alternative places to get married on a budget, that still involves all their friends.
There’s also a TV company from England coming here to film our set-up.
That’s how the day gets mixed up design, show, and wedding. Then at the same time, finishing the pate and all the meat from the pigs. That’s the how the day goes and tomorrow will completely different.
What does this all mean? We knew the market would go flat. So we decided to go sideways and learn about something else. The excitement here has rubbed on other projects. Like any artist, musician, or writer you get a block, but stepping sideways or to the edge of the cliff it becomes much clearer.
About Heineken’s Challenge To Reinvent The Draught Beer Experience
In a rather audacious move, Heineken are asking people from certain countries around the world to come up with new ideas tied to the draught beer experience. Over at the Heineken Ideas Brewery site, creative minds can offer a new vision to the drinks company.
Heineken say that draught beer is enjoyed the world-over, but it has not changed much over the years and Heineken sees the potential to take inspiration from technological advances and the development of other industries to create an exciting new era in draught beer.
Submit your new draught experience concepts at Heineken Ideas Brewery.