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Constructed entirely from Ventile fabric and made up of a system of modular components, Finlay Vincent’s jackets often seem more akin to machinery than to clothing. Citing instruction manuals as a key source of inspiration, he points to a diagram of a single bookshelf that transforms into a table and then transforms again into a bed. The words of industrial designer Dieter Rams come to mind: “Good design is as little as possible. Less, but better.” Finlay’s MA collection “Jacket” embodies a similar exercise in reduction, striving to remove all that isn’t essential and to imagine a garment in its purest form.

 

Components 1, 9, 11, 12 and 14 are combined to form a staple jacket, ideal for storing items on-the-go and shielding from sudden downpours. Each component comes furnished with robust “DOT” fasteners, which operate through a stackable military technology that allows the user to adjust the jacket according to their changing needs- an added liner for warmth, or perhaps a sleeveless vest for layering.

 

“When people think of modularity, they tend to think that the most important thing is that they come off easily and quickly,” Finlay says. “For me, it’s about making something that doesn’t ever change until maybe six months down the line when you want to take off a sleeve. The stronger, the better.” He encourages me to snap a collar on and off without guidance- a test of the jacket’s readiness- and it’s only when I feel the resistance of the snaps between my fingers that I can appreciate this sentiment. Radical in simplicity yet boundless in possibility, these are jackets that are meant to be worn, not simply admired. 

 

The use of Ventile fabric also proves integral to this ethos. Originally hailing from the West Midlands, Finlay laments how an industrial society once steeped in the tradition of working with their hands has now been eradicated by the proliferation of commercial shopping centres. In his words, “the sense of touch is so often lost.” Formulated by scientists at the Shirley Institute of Manchester in the late 1930s, Ventile consists of extra-long-staple cotton fibres (found in only 2% of the world’s cotton crop), which are picked, sorted and spun into a densely compressed weave that enables the fabric to withstand harsh external conditions. Initially created for Air Force pilots in World War II England, the young designer now harnesses the fabric as armour for a new generation traversing their own chaotic times. 

 

As for the monotonous colour palette? “I’m severely colourblind,” Finlay reveals. Colour doesn’t factor in heavily to his design process, but navy in this case seeks to encapsulate neutrality and universality- a blank canvas upon which the user can forge their own system of dressing.

Written by SHIN HUI LEE @SHINHUILEE

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