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Some designers begin their collection with detailed sketches, others with elaborate moodboards. Finlay Vincent begins his with a single pocket. “I think I’m quite lazy with designing. I don’t like to think about what it could become,” he says. With no clear final product in mind, the Central Saint Martins student focuses instead on crafting individual components that can continuously build upon each other to create a whole. It’s through this process that his MA collection “Jacket” is born.


“Coming into the MA, it was about making a jacket that I’d be proud of, that I’d want to wear,” he recalls. “The idea of a jacket really fascinates me. We all have one, it’s like a personal uniform.” It’s easy to understand what he means just by looking at him, perpetually armed with a loose-fitting black t-shirt, baggy trousers cuffed once at the hem, a doodled-over cap and a pair of silver headphones. He moves with an enviable ease around the studio, his slender frame weaving noiselessly between spools of fabric and sewing machines. As I watch Finlay hold up a jacket in the mirror, its dimensions framing him exactly, I realise that the collection is not just a product of his thinking but an extension of his very being- precise, methodical and above all, in control. If there’s a distinction between him as a designer and as a person, it’s certainly porous.  


“Jacket” appears dark and inconspicuous in a studio brimming with colour and texture. But its true value is revealed in its usage. Growing up in Kenya, Finlay’s early experiences with clothing took place at second-hand markets, as he observed how people consistently chose practical, long-lasting items. It’s this deep-rooted instinct for using “clothes as tools” that continues to ground his design process today. Frustrated by how functionality seems to be increasingly subordinated by self-expression and aesthetical considerations, he envisions modularity as a means of reprioritising the way people interact with clothes. Indeed, by empowering users of his jacket to decide on its core function, he positions them less as passive consumers and more as active facilitators of their individual needs and wants.


Modularity in fashion is hardly a new concept, but the lens through which Finlay filters it feels remarkably singular. “There’s a word that doesn’t exist, hyperconsequentiality,” he says. “When you design something, you think about what you’re going to need in 20 years’ time. Lego pieces are designed so that they can always work with pieces in the future. That’s something a collection needs to be.” There’s a depth and complexity to this line of thought that reveals his natural curiosity for the world around him- hours spent observing, questioning and challenging. “He’s a cultural student, with incredible brand reference points and an understanding of what came before him,” says global creative director of Doc Martens Darren Mckoy. For Finlay, the work doesn’t take place in the studio as much as it does in life itself. 


Has Finlay succeeded in making a jacket that he’s proud of? “I think so,” he nods. But the slight crease between his eyebrows tells me that he will never truly be finished. A forever work-in-progress, “Jacket” continues to evolve in the self-conscious recognition that it exists for, through and past the user, always susceptible to different meanings and desires.


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