Night Riders

The first time I met Anastasia Radevich was for lunch at Fred’s (Barney’s top floor)- this was almost like 8 months ago… I was excited to meet her- from her designs I could only assume that she was  very smart and talented. We ended up having a four hour lunch, and out of that lunch came an opportunity for a collaboration. We talked about how much we loved leather jackets, motorcycles, night time, and it seemed like we could agree on a lot of things when it came to craftsmanship and design. When I met Anastasia, she had a beautifully quilted leather jacket on. I was wearing my plain black snakeskin jacket.

I am assuming that many of you thought this was going to be a shoe, but we both wanted to do a leather jacket…Some of Anastasia’s shoes are not only beautiful but also technology driven, and I have a lot of experience with leather jackets, so we decided to bring these strengths together to create something that was not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional. We discussed how at night, there are many motorbike related accidents because there’s not much light-there are many motorbike accidents in general just because there is absolutely no protection for your body, but at night time there is less visibility. From far away it’s very hard to see these bikers, and the way they ride is very aggressive sometimes, they just come out of nowhere. Our idea was to bring more light to the rider, so that you could see them coming from afar. The main reason why I wanted to collaborate was because I thought it would be cool to have Anastasia design something that’s not a shoe, and on my part I was just filled with curiosity. I never worked with integrating light into a leather jacket, so I knew it would be a huge challenge. And now that we’re done, I can’t believe it, because this project was really difficult for both of us.

In this post we’ll take you through the whole creative process and our final prototype. It’s a lot but we kind of want you guys to see how we came up with design details and the choices we made a long the way, just so you understand why it looks the way it does at the end.

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We also wanted to design a custom box that was completely hand made from scratch to house the jacket.

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The box opens from the center almost like a jewelry box.

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We had a sketch finalized, but even still, design details changed a long the way.

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See this detail on the upper right corner..the close up of the shoulder. It was important to create a distinction between these kind of padded shoulders that have a seam set in the shoulder, and the shoulder that we drew. See with that burberry jacket I just linked to, you see the padded detail stops abruptly to compensate for the shoulder seam that’s set in. One of the MOST challenging aspects of this design was not only integrating the technology but also creating a sleeve without that shoulder seam set in, we had to literally shape the padding or even sculpt it around the shoulder, and each padding increment was a seam that was cut individually and sewn..and then it was padded. We didn’t want to compensate and abruptly cut off the shoulder and include a seam there because it would lack fluidity. The shoulder is almost globular.

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Another patience testing element of this jacket…. We wanted to die with this collar. It was so hard to get this collar to literally sit perfectly around the neck so that it looks like it’s banded almost like a piece of jewelry… We cut 3 and by the fourth one we got the collar perfect. To us the waste of leather is no matter, but everything had to be just right. Also, you’ll notice in the sketch there are exposed snaps, but we decided that the collar looked so much better without them, it has a much more futuristic vibe. It is amazing what you can create visually just by eliminating.

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Instead, snaps are brought inside with secure magnets.

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Another detail, we used a separating invisible zipper for this. We bought an exposed metal zipper, but once we tried it with the leather, it did not look right. The silent, minimal collar was being too overshadowed by the metal exposed zipper. The invisible zipper is probably my favorite part of this jacket. Anastasia was pretty specific about the leather color too, we wanted a ‘Ghostly Grey’ kind of tone, like kind of off white but darker..with a nice pearl-y sheen. Never feel like you have to follow conventions of course a metal exposed zipper is standard for a leather jacket, but it’s just that slight twist, you don’t see leather jackets with an invisible zipper but that’s exactly why we wanted to do it. Does it work? Yes. You’d think you could only use invisible zippers for thin fabrics, but it’s not true.

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Another one of our challenges, or maybe just mine. Anastasia had experience with technology so this was easier for us, but it was still hard because all of the technological components of this jacket had to be integrated with stealth. We thought logistically about how to include the switches. Above all though, Anastasia and I, we don’t care for going crazy and creating art for arts sake. At the end of the day, it’s got to be wearable for the customer. They have to see the garment and feel confident that this is something they can use, doesn’t matter how beautiful a design is. We did our best to integrate the technology as seamlessly as possible, so it doesn’t feel like the person is wearing some kind of wacky computer.

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The two side switches are included in the lining with small pockets in the same fabric so it kind of camouflages.

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Here you see the light peeking through. once you’re done with the switch, you tuck it back in so it doesn’t show.

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The bigger panel at the back (the wings) has much more light, and requires a stronger battery. The material we used is beautiful, it’s this light organza with galaxy-esque lights. This was included in the back of the jacket. The battery here requires a charger, whereas the other two just require small coin sized ones that are replaceable.

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This is the transparent organza material we’re talking about.

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Another difficulty, this organza (though delicate) integrates fiber optic lights that are all connected to wires. It was crazy to get this wing into the shoulder seams..Sewing shoulders and perfecting sleeves is hard enough as it is…

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It’s amazing what’s possible for us with technology. Even though Anastasia lives in Montreal and Italy, this collaboration was possible because of technology. We were able to communicate everything we wanted for the final prototype to each other and each of us were able to work on the jacket successfully- Had we lived in a world where one would have to write letters which are sent via horse carriages…we’d never be able to collaborate. And, because of this blogging platform (which is also a product of technology) we are both able to share this work in a lean manner (without too much cost) in a very quick and efficient way.. I just sent her an e-mail hours ago to let her know that the collaboration is done and to thank her for working with me. More soon, thanks for reading.

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