MELBOURNE, Australia — When BoF met From Britten P/L designers Alexander and Tim Britten-Finschi, the brothers were in the middle of a stressful and rather messy home move that was totally at odds with their clean and uncluttered design aesthetic. Indeed, in their almost clandestine studio, hidden amidst the bustle on Melbourne’s Flinders Lane, this season, the two recent winners of Australia’s National Designer Award at L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival, have produced a small but winning collection of sharp, pared-back and sophisticated menswear.
On a wool coat that has been heat bonded with two panels of rubber to create a dynamic finish of textural duality, the technical elasticity of the rubber and the familiar comfort of wool are spliced together beautifully. A pair of trousers has a waistband that expands upon being worn, but it’s been so discreetly packaged that only the gentleman wearing the trousers is in on the secret.
The duo is inspired by the late Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who reinvented the use of curves in modern civic architecture, a signature the brothers have applied to elements as seemingly banal as a pocket. Alongside its aesthetic appeal, the approach has smart functional advantages too. The curvature of the pocket neatly locks a mobile phone into place.
Before launching From Britten (their first collection was shown until 2010 at L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival) the brothers experimented with a range of artistic disciplines, but were continually drawn back to fashion, which is perhaps not entirely surprising given that their mother is Melbourne eveningwear designer Linda Britten. “We probably learned fashion through osmosis,” says Alexander Britten-Finschi, 26, who trained as a photographer. “We were exposed to it through our mother’s business and it was always what we wanted to do even if we didn’t know it.”
This month’s Spotlight features a custom BoF logo designed by From Britten. “It’s very true to our reductionist spirit,” says Alexander Britten-Finschi. “We’re interested in the nuances, the subtleties, the things that become clearer when you take a closer look.”
“Menswear is slower moving [than womenswear],” adds Tim Britten-Finschi. “We like to take time to design. There’s a nice sense of evolution when you do something and the idea’s not thrown away because it’s being replaced by another idea. We refine.”
Currently, From Britten, now in its sixth season, is stocked at Customer Store on Flinders Lane in Melbourne, an intimate store carrying tightly-edited selection of menswear. But the brothers have big plans. “[We aim to] expand in the Australian market in a really controlled way, leading to steady growth and then infiltrate the international market,” says Tim Britten-Finschi.
Their infiltration may come sooner than they believe. On the day BoF met the Britten-Finschi brothers, they had just received an email from Vogue Italia’s Franca Sozzani inviting them to present their work at the Milano Unica textile fair in September. The fair is sponsored by Woolmark and, this year, only six brands have been invited to present.
As the designers grow their business — day to day, garment to garment — it is with great pleasure that we shine this month’s BoF Spotlight on From Britten.