“It was a very different way of working for me, mainly because they have such a huge team!” Joseph Turvey is talking River Island, or rather, the designer and illustrator is discussing the process of producing Joseph Turvey for River Island Design Forum.
“I’m used to working with a small team of people,” he confesses. “But with RI there is a different department for every aspect of the collection which was really daunting.”
Daunting though it might have been, the result is a strong selection of 16 typically Turvey pieces, from branded beanies to reversible bomber jackets (Joe’s personal highlight), and matching jersey sets, much of it tagged with a hand drawn camouflage print in pink and green.
The second menswear designer to be involved with the initiative – following T. Lipop’s tailored contribution for AW13 – Turvey was particularly excited to receive the call, as he says, “It’s an incredible opportunity to work with such an iconic British brand.”
There were challenges however, namely designing “something that would maintain my design aesthetic without alienating River Island customers”, plus the fact that Joe was simultaneously designing ‘Cash In’, his mainline AW14 collection which debuted just two days before the collaboration at London Collections: Men last month.
For both presentations a short film was created; part of the Design Forum package is the Fash/On Film event, which sees River Island and the British Fashion Council present a night of fashion film, both at LC:M and during London Fashion Week.
“This season we were very conscious about building our digital presence,” Joe remarks. “Combining social media and video is a great way to reach a bigger audience.”
Hence the RI video was directed by Alex Turvey (of no relation), and features the Justanorm collective, ‘a group of 6 ethnic male models from London’ according to their Facebook page, in reality some of the most exciting and in demand faces of menswear, who happen to be black and mixed race, close friends and big Tweeters.
Said video sees Chuck Junior and co hanging out, eating, dancing and skating (complete with camo covered pizza boxes, basketballs and skateboards), in a very London take on Jamel Shabazz’s photography of groups partaking in similar activities in New York.
The initial inspiration for the collection came from the documentary ‘Planet B-Boy’ – in which many of Shabazz’s shots feature – while Turvey’s own film was picked as a Video of the Week by Vimeo staff in January, ensuring that aforementioned ‘bigger audience’.
Joe’s River Island initiation as a consumer, was the purchase of a black parka for school which he still owns – he thinks – while his venture into fashion began not with menswear but women’s. “At some point I would definitely love to go back and do another womenswear collection,” he mentions.
For now though, there is the impending store launch of JT x RIDF to be worried about, the real measure – and perhaps the only one that actually counts – of the collection’s success. With the buzz so far constant and the line between Turvey aesthetic and River Island aesthetic carefully tread, this shouldn’t bring any disappointment for the designer, or his newly adopted large team.
Joseph Turvey for River Island Design Forum launches this week.
Words: Zoe Whitfield
Photo: Coco Capitan
Model: Kyran O @ FM London