Tourne De Transmission, a label that will make its third appearance at London Collections: Men in a month’s time, is the product of Graeme Gaughan’s side project mentality. Founded in 2010, it followed the disbanding of a music venture he’d been a part of for five years, a follow up practice born out of artistic necessity. As he tells Clash, “It’s within my nature to always need a creative outlet."
Beginning with a line of T-shirts fronted by his interest in marrying words and images with little connection (he’d similarly been creating tees for bands), today the brand boasts a full apparel offering, something that has seen it earn a place on the aforementioned LC:M schedule and more recently a part on Harvey Nichols’ impressive menswear roster, where it neighbours the likes of Kenzo, Hood by Air and Stone Island.
“It’s really exciting to be taken seriously on that level, especially as with department stores there is a lot more risk for them in taking on emerging labels,” he asserts of the recognition. “I think Harvey Nichols are being the most progressive in their choices of the emerging brands they get behind; it’s refreshing that they always make sure they have an audience there too, as opposed to being reliant on hype mentality or the ability to say ‘we have this brand’."
A director at London PR agency, Sane Communications with a background in consulting, his stance on the retailer is weighted in more than plain bias. Moreover, he suggests that Tourne De Transmission owes much to the designers his day job involves him with, explaining that, “I was always observing and learning; it’s what allowed me to develop my own opinions until I felt I had something (I deemed) good enough to put out there myself. I never studied fashion design, so I guess the PR world is where I have been able to learn the craft.”
The late Barry Kamen, the former model and stylist involved with the iconic Buffalo movement of the 1980’s and with whom Gaughan collaborated on last summer’s capsule line ‘The Last Stand’, was similarly a core influence on the brand. “He would advise and suggest things and always expressed a different take,” notes the creative director of his friend. “I would say the AW16 collection (pictured above), touched on a travelling personality or searcher, of which Barry was. It’s why I wanted to dedicate that show to him. I would not have shown in the first place without his encouragement.”
While he reckons the Internet and ‘Instagram fashion’ have been the industry’s most considerable developments in the brand’s six year history – making the biggest impact on the business according to Gaughan – the arrival a formal menswear platform in LC:M is likewise a point of interest. “For me it was about taking the brand’s core ethos and putting a much bigger statement out there,” describes Graeme of TDT’s presentations. “It’s what allows you to create your universe. Platforms like LC:M allow you to do that on a global scale and to reach an international audience. It’s almost like showing in the Tate.”
With a musician past and keen interest in subcultures, it’s perhaps inevitable that music feeds into the label. “My interest in fashion overall was cultivated through music,” admits its founder. ‘It stemmed from what musicians and DJ’s were wearing; that’s actually how I ended up in fashion, through being in bands and making music for different artists. I started working at a label, in the store, and they realised I knew a lot of musicans. They asked if I could help them do more seeding to bands; it came naturally to me because of the network I was part of – and that’s how I’ve got to where I am now.”
Music is also a “constant subliminal reference point” he adds, “I have one track that I start to get into around the time I start thinking about a new collection; that sometimes goes all the way through to the show, like Fever Ray did for AW16 and ‘God’s Whisper’ by Raury for SS16.”
Further down the line (read: next month), Gaughan would like to merge the two arenas further; “I haven’t been able to (make music) for a while but I’m thinking of ideas for the SS17 show,” he confirms. “It would be nice to do my own soundtrack, if I have time.”
Words: Zoe Whitfield
Photography: Katy Thomas