Arctic Army is the unisex clothing label redefining outwear - designed by Paul Waite and Ed Jefferson the brand encapsulates the new unique aesthetic of outwear and creates prominent and eye catching designs inspired by the 90s. We sit down and talk with Ed about the brand, backstory and brightness of Arctic Army.
Where do you pull your inspiration from when designing your garments?
"We’re forever inspired by the glamorous muses of 90’s Rap and R&B culture, whether it’s the statement trims or prominent logos and bold colours. Wanting to re-define outerwear, by fusing streetwear elements paired with over-the-top silhouettes that create signature, bold yet wearable pieces. We always apply our Arctic Army DNA, a bold take on streetwear and outerwear fused together."
When you are designing your collections, what kind of person do you envisage wearing your clothes?
"For us it’s not just about fashion. Obviously, that’s a major part of our design process but it’s also about the technical and practical elements of our pieces. For instance, the oversized trims of our coats shield you from the wind and the down fill keeps you warm in sub-zero temperatures, the linings of the pockets are also soft touch fleece. So, saying that, it’s humbling to see people from all walks of life wearing Arctic Army for both style and practicality. We’d say we design our collection for those looking to break the mould of what fashion dictates, our customer appreciates quality and luxury, we believe attention to detail is what makes a true luxury brand. Arctic Army will always combine that attention to detail with a luxury supercharged aesthetic."
Explain your concept behind your latest collection?
"We wanted to introduce a luxury sportswear category that was well thought through and not something that would contribute to the problem of fast fashion that is so prevalent these days. This year we developed a collection of men’s, women’s and kids’ casualwear tailored in extra heavyweight loopback cotton, with top stitching which means it can be worn and used every day. Then pigment dyed in Europe and finished with hand screen printed logos. We have spent so much time getting them right, the fit and fabric handle. This idea of the “new suit” was something that was a constant when pulling ideas together. Something you can wear everyday whether you're on a zoom call at home or being chased by paparazzi in LA."
You have worked with top music artists such as Mist, Bugzy Malone, Chip, Blanco, 23 Unofficial and Saweetie - why do you think your designs are so popular among musicians?
"Tapping into the 90’s MTV nostalgia I think has really resonated with a lot of the artists, especially within the UK Grime scene. Our boujee aesthetic is very over-the-top and it caters for the artists that want to get noticed. It’s that attitude of excess which I think a lot of these artists gravitate too and we are loving it! The energy that has been building with Arctic Army radiates and it becomes less about the coat and more about the feeling you get when you wear it, you can really see that in the music videos. The reactions have been great."
What is your creative process when designing a collection?
"In a normal world we would lock ourselves away in Paul’s apartment in Mallorca and create the main elements of the collection that would grow into a full offering. Obviously with Covid-19 we’ve had to adapt to a more virtual collaboration together with Paul getting over to the UK when he can. We also still both draw by hand not on computer, this comes from our costume background, we always feel you can be freer on paper. Obviously, it eventually gets translated into a CAD drawing but that’s a big part of our process the drawing is what gets us excited and often snowballs into even better ideas. Iconic art and photography have been a catalyst for many of the collections. We’ll see an old editorial from a 90’s Vogue and think how we can translate that into a contemporary street-wear format. We love creating a story, it’s like a theatre, you have the clothes on beautiful models, we’ll build a huge immersive set for the campaign with one off crystal sculptures that we develop from start to finish, all the sets and props and art sculptures we make ourselves we don’t outsource any of the components. We’ve also grown a lot as a company and the production team has grown with it to help get the balance of commercial styles and more directional pieces. It’s important to be creative but also realistic at the end of the day and I think this is what has led to our success the ability to create practical everyday items with a super charged edge."
We love your “Out-Couture collection” where the pieces are all fully Swarovski crystal embellished - what was your thought process for this collection?
"Thank you! After having the success with our jackets, we wanted to develop a capsule collection that utilises our background in bespoke costume design. We called it “Out-Couture” like Haute-Couture. The idea evolved after we made a one-off jacket for Saweetie’s music video “Tap In”. It was always going to be an exclusive collection of one-off showpieces for editorial, celebrity events and performances and music videos. These coats are wearable art. We’ve also embellished a chainsaw and sledgehammer for photoshoots, even a basketball has been crystallised - the temptation to bounce it! Our In-house ateliers work with up to 90,000 Swarovski crystals on each piece placed on by hand one at a time they can take months to create, it truly is like couture we make them all in our UK studio. We really wanted to blur the lines with art, sculpture and clothing. We’re excited to be working on the next capsule and hopefully offering elements of it within our core collection where possible."