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Q&A: Michael Reid talks to us about his unisex brand Xavier Sadan

by | Feb 5, 2021

Xavier Sadan crept into our world when we noticed it after it was shortlisted for the SAFW Scouting Menswear Competition 2020. We weren’t the only ones to notice the work of designer Michael Reid. The collection The Circle of Life, an artisanal collection, which was shown at SAFW 20/21 is sold out. And, fashion influencers Felipe Mazibuko and Yasmin Furmie often feature and support his work.

The garments for “The Circle of Life” collection were created by a small group of artisans and made from previously discarded garments and fabrics, with 3D printed buttons. The website states that “Our raw materials were at the end of their lifespans, we gave them an afterlife.” 

We asked Michael a few questions:

 

Briefly tell us about the Xavier Sadan brand. What motivated you to design clothes and launch a brand?

As a child, I loved playing with toys that could transform or become something different. It felt as if they belonged in a world of their own – it was magical. In high school, I discovered the likes of Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens, and Martin Margiela at my aunt’s boutique – I loved the fabrics, the lines, and the craftsmanship. I launched my brand because I wanted to inspire creativity in others, as I was inspired with those toys and designer pieces.  The Xavier Sadan label’s narrative style is heartfelt, nostalgic, and concept-driven. We like to tell stories, through our clothes.

What challenges have you had as a unisex designer?

The biggest obstacle with creating unisex garments is fit – pattern construction has to be precise. An amazing mentor, Coenraad de Mol of De Mil, created fully unisex pieces. I apply a lot of his teachings to manipulate the pattern and cut a garment to merge soft masculinity and strong femininity.

You use the use of the words, “Good grief” in one of your garments. Is there a story or meaning behind the words?

Definitely! The concept behind the entire collection is the circle of life, and I explored a lot of duality – namely life and death. The first half of the collection is about the beauty of life, like the sand beneath your feet, or your first sip of alcohol (that you stole from your uncle when no-one was looking!). My aunt passing away at the time also made my thoughts on the theme more real. So, the second half hints at the seriousness of death, like gun violence, blood spatter, and mourning – especially during these times of the pandemic. I’ve always loved the juxtaposition within the expression “good grief”, and grief can be a good thing. It’s an expression of shock but also one of acceptance and, I thought, the perfect way to end this collection.

What materials do you use and from where are they sourced? Who makes the clothes?

For this collection, I used discarded garments and samples that were cut or forgotten, giving them a new life (thereby furthering the concept of the circle of life). I sewed about half the garments myself and the others were outsourced to a small but meticulous local CMT.

Do you dye your fabric? What colouring methods and chemicals do you use? Are they natural?

We don’t dye fabric, nor do we use any chemicals. I love the idea of using a fabric in the most natural state possible, and using it to create works of art. I prefer the focal point to be in the construction of the garment. The pops of colour provide the fun element, but are purposefully chosen to help convey the message of the collection.

What valuable change is your brand bringing to make sure it doesn’t contribute to fashion’s environmental and ethical problems?

We have innovated 3D printed buttons (which has never been commercially done before in the world!). They are designed and produced specifically for us, partially out of plastic off-cuts, and can be re-smelted into something new at the end of its lifespan, making them 100% recyclable (again, furthering the concept of the circle of life).

As a designer what is your opinion “less is more” when it comes to all the trendy fashion?

When I look at the impact of fast fashion, the last thing the world needs is “more”. I don’t want to oppose anyone’s creative expression, but part of my design philosophy is to do as much as possible with the least amount of resources. In terms of design, I would much rather see a small collection with multitudes of meaning and layers of concepts than a massive collection with watered-down ideas.

Fashion has transitioned from creation of garments to storytelling, what story are you trying to tell with your own creations?

I see it simply as me trying to tell my story and the stories unfolding around me, contrasted with the stories of those who have come before me.

“While the texture and colour palette are inspired by the classic menswear pieces in his father’s closet”. What is your father’s signature style and why does it inspire you?

My father is the most stylish man that I know and I definitely inherited his appreciation for good clothes. His style is very classic, and he strikes a good balance between formal and casual – which I can easily parallel to my work. (love you too, mom!)

How would you describe the South African fashion industry in one word in terms of sustainability?

Growing 🙂

 

  • You can follow Xavier Sadan on Instagram
  • Images: Supplied
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