“This might sound a bit outlandish, but I really feel that the tracksuit isn’t just confined to the sport/streetwear realms and can be and should be able to sit next to any other luxury piece,” stylist, casting director and NTS DJ, Mischa (Mafia) Notcutt tells Clash over email.
“With their Savile Row backgrounds, the attention to detail, design, fit and fabric choice really makes their pieces something special,” she continues, bigging up the menswear label Cottweiler, purveyors of a contemporary aesthetic that straddles both high concept and casual.
“Once you put a piece on you never want to take it off, hence why I am always in their studio trying to grab stuff.” Initially introduced to Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty’s lexicon through a third party stylist, Mischa has since collaborated with the pair several times: “I really believe in what they want to do.”
It’s a sentiment presumably shared by FKA twigs, with whom Cottrell and Dainty have also worked numerous times, tweaking their designs for the performer’s live show; Skepta and Yung Lean likewise are fans.
When Clash catches up with the duo it’s almost a month since the Cottweiler SS16 presentation. Their first official appointment with the London Collections: Men schedule - following an NTS affair for SS15 and a stint at the Alison Jacques Gallery for AW15 - this season they were championed by the BFC and Topman with support from the NEWGEN Men programme.
“We both feel very proud to be part of NEWGEN,” they announce of joining the Nasir Mazhar, Astrid Andersen, Craig Green and Agi & Sam clad line-up. “It has meant that we can take Cottweiler to the next level with increased exposure and more opportunities to reach a wider audience.”
Self defined as ‘concept led designers who respond instinctively to their social environment’, Cottrell and Dainty went public with Cottweiler in 2012, beforehand developing the brand in private while raising the dollar to launch full time.
“It grew quite naturally,” they offer of the label’s development since then, “from making things for each other, then for friends and eventually into wholesale in Japan.” Today their stockist list tops double figures, the bulk selling in the States, while they’ve just returned from the Paris showrooms (a post-LC:M buyers playground), at which the collection was met with wildly positive reactions.
Is it true they held back an entire navy section at the Oasis Sports Centre presentation? “The vision was always to use creams, whites and pearls to relay the concept,” they confirm. “When we do the showroom in Paris it’s a very different environment and it’s exciting to show buyers something that they haven’t seen already.”
Said presentation, held at the very beginning of London’s recent heatwave (and accessible only after passing an outdoors pool), saw Ben and Matthew work with Notcutt on the casting - “she understands straight away” - and Studio Boum on the sets.
Split up into three sections courtesy of the centre’s squash courts, the display - ‘an imaginary New Age group gather to share their perceptions’ read the release - could be viewed from a platform above or straight on at ground level; a strong assortment of tableaus, never has Instagram been so ottoman heavy.
“We wanted something that could be a blank gallery space, somewhere we could create our own world,” they explain. “The squash courts were perfect, and we liked the contradiction of walking through a sports centre into a space that was made to look like a new-build lounge.”
Fans of Raf Simons and Gosha Rubchinskiy - “we feel like we can relate to the type of guy they design for” - Cottrell and Dainty are excited for their vision of a spiritual masculinity to drop next summer - in-store and available to buy worldwide - while ahead of that they fancy Cottweiler’s chances on the catwalk: “We would love to do our own version of a runway show.”
A growing fanbase, happy buyers and social media shoutouts will surely only further the cause.
Words: Zoe Whitfield
Photography: Mehdi Lacoste