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Creative Director Ian Griffiths' Guide To Keeping Max Mara Upbeat

In the over three decades he’s spent as the creatIve director of Max Mara, Ian Griffiths has always Imbued his collections for the Italian luxury label with a sense of positivity. During a recent visit to singapore, the self-described optimist tells Imran jalal his guide to staying upbeat and strong.

… But don’t lose your values

“The speed of consuming fashion on social media has come to a point where a lot of people are getting confused. There’s so much froth and ideas are being communicated so quickly that they can go out of fashion even before they get to the stores. All that has however worked to the benefit of Max Mara because we represent lasting values; something which has a sense of permanence. The proliferation of fashion on social media has encouraged a lot of younger consumers to turn towards the world of Max Mara to invest in something that has meaning. Of course paradoxically, we’re using social media to communicate the continuity of the Max Mara narrative.”

The series of sorbet-hued three-piece short suits in Max Mara’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection originated simply from how the idea of pastels on military fatigues put a smile on his face, says the brand’s long-running creative director Ian Griffiths.

See things in a positive light

“We have to address the world and its problems with optimism even though it’s easy to be dragged down by the negativity. For instance, we’re all aware of the environmental issues surrounding the fashion industry, but let’s be optimistic about how they can be a stimulus for evolving new ways of working that will help solve problems in future. Our brand is one of the biggest consumers of camel hair fabric, which is used on our coats. The wasted bits that are trimmed were previously thrown away, but we had the idea of upcycling them into fibre to be used as wadding for puffer jackets. It’s sustainable in terms of energy and water consumption and you avoid the need to use feathers as down, which in turn reduces the use of a resource that has ethical problems. So don’t think of environmental issues as limiting – we can sort this world out.”

Don’t be afraid to shake things up

“This season, we’ve introduced new propositions to dressing. A pair of bermuda shorts is a new item that immediately changes the proportion of any jacket you wear. A long bias-cut skirt or dress is a new item that to me is essential as I wanted to explore something feminine and soft in the Max Mara vocabulary; something not quite romantic and possesses a certain toughness. The waistcoat is another new item to own as it makes you rethink the way you wear a suit and give it new associations. We added utility pockets to our waistcoats, which you can wear with a shirt, tie and jacket, and you’d end up with a new take on the three-piece suit.”

Max Mara reinvents the classic suit this season with skirts, shorts and gilets.

Be open to newness

“My attitude to the streetwear movement is to not go to the street, but let it come to us. I’ve started to notice millennials wearing Max Mara coats with casual things like sneakers. We have consciously presented designs like the (softly tailored) 101801 coat that will appeal to a more street-oriented market. It’s important though that the brand maintains its trajectory. To change direction would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and our identity and heritage.”

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

This article first appeared in the March 2020 print issue of FEMALE. 

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