Clothes are showcased in motion on fashion runways, but in Peet Dullaert’s S/S 2017 collection movement is not the only vehicle, it is also the purpose. The photographs of his pieces convey an organic ability to morph as the models make their way down the catwalk, something difficult to achieve in still images. This is the result of a smart approach to tailoring. A word that suggests classic, straight lines, but that the Dutch designer has transformed into a tool to grant, more than aesthetic symmetry, freedom of the body. In this redefinition of construction techniques, Dullaert reimagines traditional garments as enabling pieces adapted to modern needs. He spoke to us about the liberating ethos behind his brand, the evolution of his collections and his strategic use of materials around the body.
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Part of the design logic of the brand is that its pieces are 'tailored to liberate.' How do you think your latest collection furthers that agenda?
The S/S 2017 collection is one that celebrates all genders and body types. Freedom of movement has always been essential to my beliefs, whether it’s about the cut, a look proposition or the choice of materials used for their flexibility, comfort and weight. It’s about the concept of clothes that breathe a pure spirit, lightness and looking forward to alternative ways of construction in synergy with the body. Take for example the consistently developed ‘Concorde’ trousers; its unique construction and shape is inspired by the legendary aircraft that gave us supersonic transport. Its name embodies harmony and union. Vital to me is that, next to shape, these signature pieces I’ve developed are created with the idea of a forward spirit, in motion, connecting us.
We can say the same for the recognizable stripe pattern that was introduced in 2012 with my debut collection. A Zebra inspired this diagonal vibrating stripe, a significant wild horse, free, a master of balance and a symbol of individualism. These are core values that are present in each signature element I develop. The stripe features in the collections, scarfs, a series of bags and our signature stationary and packaging ever since.
What do you think is the most important development you have achieved with this collection in the evolution of your career?
That would be unification. During the creation process of the S/S 2017 collection I found a way to upgrade the brand’s signature shape construction developed for tailoring to one suitable for all genders. It’s great to see that one tailored shape can flow freely embracing both male and a female posture at the same time. From that particular way of construction a whole series of interchangeable pieces in the collection evolved. This cut not only provides a beautiful alternative to the traditional separation of male and female dressing, it also delivers a pure conversation on individual body shape as garments take their ultimate form in harmony with the wearer. By developing this way of construction and non-labelling we’re able to truly speak about inclusion – an important step that looks beyond the conventional and starts real conversation about personal freedom.
On your latest collection you use a sort of piping technique you call Zen-line, many times combined with pleated fabrics, to achieve interesting shapes. What is your relationship with these methods and textiles in regards to their interaction with the body?
I’d like to think of the Zen-line as a lifeline. The essence of ‘Zen’ is harmony, balance and vibrating forward. Returning or reinvented every season, it became one of the signature elements in my collections over time. Some seasons more graphic and present like in the F/W 2016 collection, some seasons tone-on-tone, more fragile and anonymous. It really depends on the mood and direction the collection evolves to.
This construction technique has a very specific look and plays an important role in my collections, used to shape garments from various kinds of fabric, among them our techno-pleat garments, but also used to shape jackets or trousers from non-pleated fabrics. What I love about the pleats I work with is that they are very 'Morpheus'. They are present, authentically shaped and manoeuvre independently, just like the wearer. It is the “pure connection between the wearer and the garment”.
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Your pieces seem to redefine the body in non-classical ways. How does your work with tailoring, materials and silhouettes contribute to that narrative?
Each garment gets its shape through draping and trial on the mannequin and real bodies, both male and female. The tailored pieces, the pleated ones etc. Its very vital to me to create shape this way as I feel it goes hand in hand with movement essential to modern life. Take a jacket: the shape and position of the sleeves are a blueprint of modern posture; the combination of construction and material make the pieces easy to wear. Seams on a jacket run fluid and the shape of the sleeve is cut and set to look beautiful in various positions we find ourselves in throughout the day and night. Try it when you bend your arm to take a picture of something. I believe clothes should be easy to live in, regardless of the design. Wherever you may go.
Furthermore it’s the choice of fabric. To create certain shape catering to modern life it’s very essential to have harmony with one of the most essential elements of a collection. There is no collection without the right fabrics.
On your latest catwalk there were both men and women wearing similar ensembles. Who do you have in mind when you design? How do you work around gender?
To me it is an overall feeling that connects. I don’t really work from the idea of one person. It’s about that feeling and a way of dressing. This has always been important to me. Even though collections from the past were labelled ‘womenswear’, pieces were bought and worn by women and men. The S/S 2017 collection notes contained an essential summary of my beliefs on the topic of gender and what connects us people: “We find unity in shared emotions and salvation in individuality.” The clothes speak to multiple individuals, various ages, sometimes worlds apart but sharing the same values. Individuality is very important to me. There is not one, there are many and together there is unity. What defines us? What is feminine/masculine? It obviously plays a significant role in daily traditional lives, but should it matter? And why is it apparently so important to divide? To me the freedom of your very own choices matters. I seek comfort in the thought that the people around me live their lives free of generalization and stigmas. If you are in touch with yourself, you will make independent choices on what to wear and how to wear it. Regardless of whether it is women’s or menswear. 
Your S/S 2017 collection is already up for sale on your website. Currently there is a conversation about the fashion system and the temporalities of seasonal collections and the retail process. How do you work with the fashion calendar? Are you betting on a direct-to-consumer strategy?
The fashion calendar is important as it creates an order of some sort with a focus on the various fields that tie us all in this industry. We all work around that schedule. 
Our strategy is indeed mainly focussed on the direct consumer relation we have, since the implementation of our balanced and responsible production cycle in 2014.
One that I feel makes sense and applies to modern times, desire and demand. We don't do pre-collections, we do two main collections a year and accessories that are made available over-season.
Certain dynamics in the industry make little or no sense. You see the shows and new collections, and you see stuff you may like but are unable to get until about 6 months later. While back in the days the feeling of exclusivity of the products may have been enhancing, nowadays it is more likely to make people forget about them once the momentum has passed, due to the overflow of information and attention deficit. But most importantly I feel actual seasons don't make sense anymore. Who really dresses according to a season nowadays? We dress according to style, a personal perspective, not a season.
With the system we created, collections are made available to order after the show and run for about 10 months. Meaning two seasons run simultaneously for about 4/5 months, which is more modern and responds to the needs of a contemporary customer.
Another benefit of running a collection for this period of time is giving it the life it deserves. You can order now, we’re extending its availability, but also create the opportunity for customers to save for the products they want. In the end I believe real luxury is the opportunity for exceptional products to be part of people’s lives for years.
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