When music and fashion collide
When two worlds collide, when fashion intertwines with a whole new world, it connects its DNA with music. HUGO BOSS, a German men's leading fashion brand has chosen Liam Payne as their new HUGO global brand ambassador. And we had a chance to speak to Liam about the collaboration
- You said fashion started as a hobby for you. Now here we are, with you collaborating on an exclusive new capsule and being the first global brand ambassador for HUGO. What went through your head when you got this news?
I mean, it just even seems weird looking at my name, seeing my name on the label of some clothing, which is nice, but just weird at the same time. When I first heard that we were going to be doing it, I was just thinking about how many amazing people HUGO BOSS has had over the years, so many great names and different people that I look up to and watch on the big screen, like Ryan Reynolds or Chris Hemsworth.
Being the first one for HUGO is just amazing. When I found out more into the way everything was working, that we were making clothes, not just trying them on, this was really cool. When I was on the way to the first design meeting, I was in the car and I didn't really know what to expect. But as soon as we sat down and started looking at different drawings and different designs and things that were possible, it all became really fun and it drew me in.
- You collaborated with HUGO on an exclusive "HUGO x Liam Payne capsule". What was the most exciting part of being involved in the desig process of this collection?
I think just coming up with new ideas, it's quite fun. There's loads of different printing techniques that they've not actually done before. And there's actually a pocket now on the joggers that they've nicknamed »the Liam Pocket«, because I always used to drop my phone and smashed it. So we not only have a zip pocket inside the jogger pocket, but they started putting it across a bunch of different pieces even in their collection now as well. This is actually the most exciting thing for me, when you figure something out that hasn't really been figured out very much before.
- The capsule was just revealed at this year's Berlin Fashion Week, accompanied with your performance. How do you look at people's reaction to your collection with HUGO?
This is completely new territory for me. I think I'm most happy with the fact that when we designed everything, it's quite subtle and that my name is not anywhere in these pieces, except on the label inside. Not that I'm trying to hide myself or anything, but I just think that people who shop HUGO, should be able to walk into HUGO and still shop HUGO, whether or not I made it. I think that as someone who's designing the clothes, it's not your job to make sure that your name is everywhere. It's your job to make sure that the the blend between what is you and what is the brand fits so well, that people will mistakenly buy it, not even knowing that it was a piece of my collection.
- You were also named as the new face of HUGO Bodywear campaign. How does it feel to be the a part of a first partnership of this kind for HUGO, linking the fashion world with music?
It was really good, it was fun. It was a lot of hours in the gym to get that shoot done, which now I'm back on my training schedule again. It was nice to go to the gym with the goal of what you're gonna be doing, because I know everybody wants to look at the people on the boxes.
The shoot was really amazing. Get to shoot all of this with Mert & Marcus was just the best thing ever. When they took the first picture, I was so stressed because of being in underwear in front of loads of people, but working with them, they took the pressure off. And I don't know what it is about them, but just the slightest move they make you do and the way they place you within the shot, the way they actually direct you within the scene, it's super easy to work with them. All of the poses that I've been doing over the years, I've just been doing it so wrong.
- How would you describe the style of "HUGO x Liam Payne capsule"?
It's definitely smart casual and a bit more loose. I think it's quite nice as well. When we were designing the capsule, obviously it was so heavily designed around me and stuff that I wear and the way that I wear things. In the way we designed the joggers or the way that the hoodie fits or whatever else, I think is definitely my fit on a lot of the things. Some of it's has a bit of streetwear in there, but most of it's kind of smart casual.
- How do you manage to keep your own style, through working with a lot of different styles and being dressed by many different people?
Honestly, I think this is all because I've covered so many different ranges of fashion over the years, kind of because we started as young as we did in the band. You grow through your fashion at one stage or another, there were different elements of stuff that I've dressed along the way. So there's always something I can draw back to. The time I got it the most right was when it was the most simple and it was towards the end of the band. And then I kind of went off on trying different, new things. When I started off being a solo artist, being so nervous about presenting just myself to a fanbase and the world, I think I was kind of hiding behind as many things as possible. It was all the gold chains and sunglasses and everyting else, which was kind of me trying to create my own character, but it wasn't really me. But now I really have grown with fashion and I'm really happy that I made all those different mistakes.
- What does HUGO mean to you?
I'd worn a few of different HUGO suits, different things on catwalks. I think in one element, it was just really perfect for me. And when we kind of made this brand partnership together, it just made complete sense to me. A lot of the pieces just cater to everything that I wear actually, which is really good. And it is exactly how I want to dress.
- What can we expect from you in the future, are there any other collaborations with HUGO already on the horizon?
Yeah, there's a few things that we've already shot which are very fun and quite exciting. There's another collection that we're gonna make as well. Another one of the two, I think, at the moment. So lots of different things. And I can't help it, the more I go on HUGO's website and look at what's been made, where they're going next with things, I just start print screening and trying to design things. I mean, I'm really enjoying doing this at the moment, so I hope I get to do it for quite a long time.
- Was there anything specifically, any idea, that you wanted to do that didn't come to life and you were hoping it would?
The problem that we had at this point was the timing, because we wanted to get it done for this specific period. It's great that the team worked as hard as they did because we got everything finished, but it was hard to do. There were so many different things that we had ideas for. And my problem is, I have like a million ideas. So if an idea gets left behind, it might get left way behind, because I'll think of something else that I like more. There was a lot of different pieces, especially more streetwear jackets. But I think I'm bringing that more into the second collection.
- How different is it to design then to write a song?
I've always liked drawing and as soon as we've made the first collection, I went home and started drawing bunch of logos, different colors and things and seeing what went together, because when drawing, you can make as many mistakes as you want. I think that's kind of similar in songwriting, you can re-record it and re-record it until you go »I like that a little bit more«, which is quite nice. It is a different sector. When drawing, your eyes just know when something goes together. Whereas the music is more of a feeling, like how does that song make you feel in a certain way or when you sing this line. I think that's the difference.
We sat down also with HUGO's creative director, Bart De Backer, a Belgian designer, who's in charge of designing BOSS younger brother brand's menswear. HUGO is a brand with fashion forward approach, aiming for younger customers. From the signature tailored suits to incorporating today's streetwear philosophy, HUGO is mixing together different styles and creating something new.
- 10 years in the future, what changes would you like to see in the world?
What I would like to see is free health care, free education, more equality and less plastic. For people to be more considerate of what we use the plastic for.
- What makes HUGO unique in your words?
For me that's a brand that always challenged the status quo in a bit classic mindset in a way. When we started the brand started to wear sneakers under suits, we had tailored jackets with denims. Then we started to mix tailoring with sportswear and now we actually go completely into the whole mix master idea. An example for this is creating a platform for self expression, that makes people who buy HUGO wanna wear HUGO just how they want to wear it, we're not gonna tell them how they should wear it.
Recently, we started blurring the boundaries between the menswear and womenswear, in the last 3 – 4 collections we created unisex styles, so we actually invite our customers to not only check one side of the shop, but also the other side. This is a new thing we are working on and esentially something we always did with HUGO. Something that was seen as established, we question and we start challenging. This is something that is current, but also we are gonna try to introduce it more into the mainstream. What you have now is still a niche of people and our reach as a brand is quite big.
- What are your next projects and which one you're most excited about?
That's a thing I can not really talk about, it's still »under construction«. But the thing is, in general with every collection we try to collaborate with a lot of people. The collections that I'm working on and are coming out now, we're always searching for talent and when we see a really good graphic designer or people who sketch quite nicely or a different way of making designs, then we try to collaborate with them. This is also in the spirit of HUGO as a platform for self expression, we are actually searching for talents that have their voice or their point of view on things.
- Could you tell us a bit about the inspirations behind the next collection coming out for spring and summer 2020?
I discovered that Bowie was living in Berlin in the 70s, from 1976 to 1979, where he recorded what I find one of his most innovative albums, Low, Lodger and Heroes. About that time he also strated to reinvent himself. What I liked about that whole inspiration is that he always tried to push something new, tried new things, mixing different styles together and this is what he did in Berlin, experimented and created kind of new ways of music. For me he is the ultimate mix master.
This was the inspiration of the collection. We mixed the Bowie heritage and the Bowie street style of the 70s with the Berlin of today, where the street style is still very influenced by 90s, but is also very US heritage. The Bowie tailoring was very important and what we did in this collection is actually looking at the suit itself, kind of in a different way. What I wanted to do and did in this collection is looking at the very basic philosophy and use that as a starting point, where the suit has the top and bottom in the same fabric, with placing this in the time of today, where leisure wear is dominant. Everybody dresses down at the moment. I took a track suit as a starting point and gave it to my pattern designer of tailoring and I asked him »Please take the heritage techniques from tailoring and make a track suit«. What we developed was a tailored version of a track suit. What I think is in the future of suits, what is our heritage, what I believe is our future direction is the new idea of the suit, that is more leisure, more fitted to the lifestyle of all, also the young kids today. People wanna look cool, they still wanna look very valuable and they don't wanna feel forced into wearing a suit.
We started to work together with the Estate of Bowie and we have a little capsule where we actually use the pictures of Bowie on our clothing. The cover of Heroes album, together with Bowie's quote is a very nice piece from the collection. We also worked a lot around the silhouettes of David Bowie, we focused a lot on the fabric, but always with a little twist, because Bowie always wore suits in brighter colors, which were a bit loud, but he could wear it one way or another, he made it work.
- What trends do you see shape the future of menswear?
Dressing up becomes more important, but I don't think it will translate automatically in more tailoring. Tailoring will take a different place in mens wardrobe. We try to have new silhouettes, the way of dressing will have a very leisure shape. The tailored jacket is an element you can use even in a very street inspired look. I think the formal and leisure styles will blend more.
- How does HUGO differentiate itself from BOSS?
It's a very different brand. In the past we were more like brothers, but now we are really a different brand. We talk differently to our consumer, the way we build our collections is completely different. For me, BOSS is a more established approach, where we question everything that is established. Brand HUGO by istself is also a brand that is based on self-expression, that means people who buy HUGO can actually wear it how they want to and they can experiment with it and try new things. For me this is a completely different philosophy.
- How much do you think sustainability gives importance to fashion, now in 2019?
I think it will gain more and more importance. We're also working on it in very different projects, so when we design, we think differently about things. I'm also reducing my collections, like the sizing of things becomes smaller, we get much more focused on our products and of course we are working into a different way of design, more long term design.
Also, a very interesting thing about young designers. Some time ago I talked to a teacher at Royal College in London and there they already see that young generations , the future designers are already thinking in the long term, what will happen when they design, what will be the effects on the environment. In HUGO we also started going into that mindset.
Shot by photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott inside an apartment in Berlin, the new campaign features Liam in signature styles from the brand’s underwear line. The musician and his model counterpart, interpret a young couple who have escaped to Berlin with the paparazzi hot on their tails.
“I feel lucky that as the face of HUGO, I get to front iconic campaigns such as this. It’s been an amazing experience to work with such an incredibly talented group of people,” says Liam.
In one hyper-saturated image, Liam is seen standing on a bed, wearing boxer briefs woven with the HUGO logo across the waistband. In a black and white shot, he poses for Maxwell as she captures his likeness on film. Perhaps the most intimate of all the images, shows the pair intertwined on the bed, while she wears his underwear and he wears nothing at all.
The bodywear range, comprised of trunks, boxer briefs, and tank tops borrows from the motif-heavy aesthetic of the core collection. Underwear styles are topped with waistbands in signature HUGO red with statement contrast logos, and sporty tank tops have vertical logos stitched onto their hemlines.