Why Loewe Has Us All in a Chokehold
The partnership between Loewe and Anderson has been long developed, wholly organic, and has yet to feel like a Hail Mary for profit.
At the intersection of irreverence, kitsch, and surrealism lies Jonathan Anderson. The Irish-born designer — who currently helms Spanish luxury house Loewe as creative director, as well as his own eponymous label, JW Anderson — is often regarded as one of fashion’s best modern talents. He is known for his delicate, idiosyncratic creations that perfectly walk the line between frivolous and genius. In a day and age when the industry often feels stale and uninspired, Anderson has managed to liven it up with humor, reference, and intellect to create an arsenal of buzz-worthy designs.
After graduating from the London College of Fashion, Anderson started his career in menswear, where he experienced a meteoric rise to success. He launched his eponymous label JW Anderson in 2008 with an inaugural androgynous men’s line; it was eccentric, beautifully chaotic, and introduced an anomalous dance between conventionally gendered pieces. A few years later, he added a womenswear line that followed suit. The designer’s approach to witty craftsmanship resonated with the industry from the beginning; his short stint of work at his own label caught the attention of European luxury conglomerate LVMH, and Anderson was appointed creative director of Loewe in 2013.
At the time, the Madrid-based brand was fairly lackluster and struggling to define its identity. The young, eager designer spent his first year revamping the brand — and did so carefully. Anderson’s arrival at the house followed troubled stints by Narciso Rodriguez and Stuart Vevers, both unsuccessful in their attempts to revive the brand. Anderson’s creative and strategic touch — bringing the joie de vivre that marked his eponymous label to the house — proved triumphant, and the once-sleepy brand started gaining notoriety for products beyond leathergoods.
In the decade following his initial appointment as the head of Loewe, Anderson has accomplished a laundry list of successes. Loewe ranked #1 on Lyst’s Q2 2023 Hottest Brands index for the first time. Anderson has been able to transform the brand to compete among hot heritage houses like Prada and Bottega Veneta — a once seemingly-impossible mission. The Anagram tank top was also ranked the hottest product of the quarter, and the brand’s famous basket bag continued to create popular demand while also inspiring countless dupes.
Anderson’s prolific portfolio doesn’t stop there. The designer’s penchant for off-beat accessories, inflated silhouettes, asymmetrical hemlines, and unfamiliar proportions has resulted in some of the most interesting work in the business. Anderson and the Loewe team interpreted the phrase “walking on eggshells” quite literally, bringing the well-known saying to life with a pair of heels. In that same collection, Anderson morphed art and fashion together with a series of sculptural heels in the form of candles, soap, roses, and nail polish bottles in place of the traditional stiletto. Unsurprisingly, these designs gained traction online and became the center of discourse around Anderson’s innate ability to transgress the boundaries of fashion.
Loewe didn’t stop there, however. As more designers and brands continue to embrace the evolution of technology by creating metaverse collections and staking their claim in otherwise gimmicky tech spheres, Anderson has taken a different, more experimental approach. The creative director’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection featured warped garments that mirrored something out of Minecraft. Pixelated hoodies, pants, and tops ‚ all created with the help of perfectly-engineered 3D seams — translated to yet another win for Loewe. The outcome of Anderson’s undeniable genius, and his balance of mainstream appeal and those-that-get-it-get-it ethos, is nothing short of a fashion fairytale.
In addition to Loewe’s commercial achievements, Anderson’s designs have also graced large stages for iconic performances. Rihanna wore a multi-layered red look comprised of a silk catsuit, a matching canvas flight suit, and a custom leather corset breastplate for the 2023 Superbowl. The 38-year-old designer also proved his unmatched design aptitude with an array of looks for Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour. His signature surrealism and illusion techniques were center stage on Beyoncé’s high-shine crystal hand-motif bodysuit. Anderson also incorporated thematic touches that perfectly paralleled the mega-star’s album — like futuristic concepts, disco-tech, robots, and machines.
Though Anderson’s talents are indisputable, it can be hard to place why his designs have elevated Loewe and resonated with consumers and the industry. It all comes down to the British designer’s love for the craft. Anderson has fun while he designs — something painfully missing from a lot of other designers’ recent work. He is a natural risk-taker, and his work often feels refreshingly authentic. The partnership between Loewe and Anderson has been long developed, wholly organic, and has yet to feel like a Hail Mary for profit.
Anderson’s radical approach to fashion has also positioned him as a modern pioneer. He is satisfied, maybe even fulfilled when his collections aren’t particularly cohesive — and he doesn’t necessarily strive to follow the zeitgeist. This ethos sets him apart from other designers and allows his strong creative vision to design collections sincere in their specificity. It’s weird, but it’s good-weird! may be the most succinct, yet overly simplified way to describe Jonathan Anderson’s work — and, boy, is the industry lucky to have him. 🌀