William Richard Green is one of  the UK's most promising new menswear designers, combining a fresh experimental approach to fashion with wearability and a strong sense of heritage. He also happens to be Substance's in house fashion creative. Good news for us.

Green grew up in the countryside just outside of Birmingham. He cheerfully admits to royally screwing up his schooling. However, he always excelled in art. So, following an art foundation course he first turned his hand to making clothes. He left the Midlands behind with no trace of an accent, and was accepted into London's prestiguous
Central St Martin's school of fashion. In 2009 his graduate collection was met with praise by the fashion industry. They've been watching him ever since.

Green currently splits his time between his fashion label and his music, he's also one half of dance outfit
Joe And Will Ask. Substance met with its bright young  star at his at his studio in London's East end on a rare sunny day in February...

How did you start working in fashion?

I was taking foundation art when my mate, who was a lot more serious about it than me, applied to Central St Martin's. He was my best mate at school so I was like, Right I'm going to do that as well. I got in before I realised that it was kind of the best place to go. I did my two years there and then had a placement at David David, who was doing Fashion East at the time, then one at a furriers at Conduit Street. I also worked in a place at Savile Row. My final collection got a fair bit of press. But when I graduated my music was taking off, I was going on tour in Japan, so I chilled a bit on the fashion for a while. My girlfriend has her own label called Fanny & Jessy - she works just upstairs from me - and so when I returned it made me think, I might as well use this good degree and the bit of press that I'd got and just do something. So I decided to start the label, and that's kind of it really.

Was there a particular moment when you realised that you wanted to work in fashion?

No. I wasn't like, I just love wearing clothes. It's probably the most backward way into fashion ever.

6968.jpg Where do you get inspiration from?

With my label every season I choose a kind of muse. Not an actual person, but it's always heavily themed and I think that's more of a fun way to approach things. This season I'm looking at Vikings because I like how masculine they are, and the season before I did the North Sea fisherman.

Is it important to you that your collection is wearable?

It is important to me, yeah, because I think being a man designing menswear you kind of think, Would I normally wear that? Even to try not to, I think it still subliminally affects you.

You've experimented with rubber in your collections and you've also used squid ink to dye fabrics before. What techniques are you into at the moment?

I'm still exploring rubber as a fabric. What I like to do is try and make as normal clothes as possible out of it. Last season I made a rubber T-shirt and the season before I made a rubber duffle coat. I think it's really nice to explore this really fetishy fabric and turn it into wearable menswear. Also, I've been using a lot of waxed cotton and this season I really tried to keep all the fabric sourced from Britain.

How come?

Well, I think that if you can then you may as well, and you pretty much can get everything from here now. And you know with a name like William Richard Green I should keep it a sort of heritage thing. There hasn't been so much experimentation this season, but I looked into tailoring and looked to making it a bit more mature. The squid ink thing last season it looked really cool, but when it came to producing orders of this T-shirt dyed with squid ink, I had to cancel the orders.

You've collaborated with film director Zaiba Jabbar on films presenting your collections, one of which won the A Shaded View On Fashion Film Award. What do you think about fashion and film, and how the two are getting very close right now?

I make a film every season and I do like it. The possibilities are amazing. Online media seems to be the way forward now as it's something you can just copy and paste to your blog.

What about the future?

I'm doing a jewellery collaboration with Gogo Philip, which should be fun, and a shoe collaboration with Underground, who I've worked with since they sponsored my graduate show, but this time I've designed the shoes, so I can't wait to get them back. In the future I would really like to design a high end capsule collection for a British brand such as Burberry Prorsum because I'm really into British heritage. I'd really like to do that.

 Text: Polly Braithwaite


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