INTERVIEW BY CARLOTTA BUOSI
Bianca Saunders is a Namesake brand. Essentially, it’s a concept. A new take on mens fashion, offering an alternative aesthetic.
Bianca, who grew up in South East London, was always drawn to notice and understand the differences between all kinds of people surrounding her. Due to her own Jamaican heritage, the designer’s strongly influenced by the clash between British and Caribbean cultures, which she references plenty in her innovative work. Challenging the stereotypes of menswear clothing as well as evolving visual expectations are at the core of her design. Passionate about researching, Bianca is determined to somehow change people’s perspective, and she chose clothes are her preferred way to make a statement.
1. Bianca, you are a true Londoner. Would you say you’re mostly focused on what’s around you, when searching for inspiration, or instead look further away from your surroundings?
I definitely look at what’s around me forinspiration, taking my friends and family as references. People do say they get a real "London" feel from my work. Further away does not inspire me and I believe it’s nice that I can put my own identity into my work, so it is not so far removed from me.
2. What would you describe as your main influences when it comes to your design?
A lot my influences come from conversations with my male friends and the ideas I get from their personal style.
Now and again I go to art galleries. For example, Lorna Simpsons’ exhibition "Unanswerable" helped me rethink my own research for my SS19 collection “Gestures”. For this collectionI looked back at the mannerisms and gestures taken from my research for my final year of Masters at RCA, focused on a film titled " Personal Politics". The film looks closely at Black masculinity and challenges its stereotypes.
3. How would you describe your style to someone who has never seen your work?
I create fashion that expresses and validates the ‘in-betweenness’, weaving subtle signifiers of femininity into an otherwise boldly masculine silhouette.
4. Why menswear?
Menswear is changing a lot and I realised how much more can be done, in terms of introducing new aesthetics. I find menswear more exciting as there are more codes you have to stick to. It’s about finding ways to readjust them. When I started, I soon realised how I tend to be drawn to looking at mens clothing for references or including men’s images in my research. Menswear seemed like the right switch.
5. Is there a message you wish to communicate through your design?
Evolving visual expectations of gender and challenging stereotypes. Continuing the conversation and making sure my work is still as authentic as it was in the beginning. What drives me the most is my research, as well as opening up important discussions through my work. I feel like if my work doesn’t have that element it stops being special.
6. What do you expect from London Fashion Week Mens in January?
I think London Fashion Week Mens is a great place to be. It’s not so much about the hype of the bigger designers, but giving smaller designers like myself a chance to be seen.
10. And what should we expect from your AW19 collection in January?
I am really excited and looking forward to it. Autumn/Winter is my favourite season to design for, as I am mostly drawn towards working with the heavier weighted fabrics. I do want to revisit my drape techniques and the ideas of expositing underwear as outwear.
Special thanks to Charlotte Berghman and the British Fashion Council.