Ten Designers You Should Meet: Cottweiler
The name of Ben Cottrell and Matt Dainty’s London- based menswear label comes from a combination of the former’s surname and the latter’s mother’s maiden name. Which somehow fit perfectly together. But then, that’s them all over: the perfect fit. They finish each other’s sentences. I wonder if perhaps they’re a pair of twins who were accidentally separated at birth.
The pair met on a coach while travelling from Bristol to Paris. Well, met properly. It wasn’t quite as fateful as that – they were already at university in Bristol together, studying fashion. “We didn’t know each other, but we were the only boys in the class. And then we went to Paris,” Dainty says. He laughs. “And then had a pretty crazy time drinking. We just kind of naturally gravitated towards each other.”
So what was it that the twosome shared? A fascination with sportswear, of course, but that came a little later. At first, it was even more simple. “In the studio, we obviously put our research up on the walls and stuff and realised we had similarities,” Dainty says. “We come from different backgrounds, different walks of life, different parts of the country, but we have this kind of common ground of inspiration.” Such as? “Skinhead culture,” they say in unison. Just a brief look at their Tumblr proves that this point of fascination is still alive and well.
But what is it about sportswear? What is it about the minimal, no-frills, concept-led (“We tend to design from a kind of narrative, character basis”) stuff that has defined their first collections, shown as part of NEWGEN? At first, the interest came from the clothes they wore as teenagers. “I remember wanting every Ralphie polo in every shade and every colour,” Dainty says. But then they got frustrated by the branding. You know, swooshes, stripes and all that shit. Cottrell tells me how he used to pick the Stone Island label off the sleeves of his jumper. This was all about something cleaner.
And so, in a roundabout way, Cottweiler was born. Sportswear, yes, free from anything but the clothing itself, constructed in luxe-y fabrics that the pair develop themselves (they’re self-proclaimed fabric geeks). In the beginning, it was all for them, then for friends and then for the world. Because, judging by the list of international stockists, the world wanted it. Not that it was that intentional – “It was this really organic process, it just kind of happened,” they say.
So what’s next? Well, collaborations, which they love, and then there’s more chatter and excitement about fabrics. But first things first: “You really need to come down to the studio and have a cup of tea.”
Taken from Issue 43 of 10 Men, THE DARK LANDS, on newsstands now…
Photograph by Kim Jakobsen To