1883 Magazine
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Austrian born and bred Tina Elisabeth Reiter takes menswear in a fresh direction with her graduate collection ‘The Sound of Homeless(ness)’, taking inspiration from her emotional detachment with the country she grew up in and a few too many viewings of ‘ The Sound of Music’. This particular collection won her the Best Menswear Collection of the Year award from London College of Fashion. We find out more about her prize-winning collection and her hardcore pattern-cutting skills.

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Hi Tina, Congratulations on winning the best menswear collection of the year award, how did it feel to walk away with such a prestigious prize?

Hey there – thanks a lot! It feels great, still a bit surreal and overwhelming, but good. I am incredibly honored to finish my studies with such an acknowledgment from London College of Fashion.

I am still and always will be very grateful that I was able to do the Master’s Degree thanks to the fact that I received a Harold Tillman scholarship for postgraduate studies. Without this lucky chance we would not have this chat today.

Yep – thank you Harold Tillman! Talk us through ‘The Sound of Homeless(ness)’ collection, how personal is it from your Austrian roots?

Quite personal actually. Turning ones innermost parts out and creating it again in fabric is the job of a designer. This is always a challenging process: embedding your design philosophy into the garments themselves.

The collection is about belonging-to and our roots. When you miss them or start questioning them because our globalized world goes head over heels - you are just feeling lost.

This is my sixth year abroad now and I have had a moment when I started questioning my past, my cultural background and upbringing – in a way the collection is a holistic approach, a research into my own past that led my designs and me into a new direction.

The collection can be seen as homage to the country where I was born and raised and where the national folk costume still plays an important enduring role in society. Austria is a country of steadiness, which can be a good thing for e.g. valuing our traditions, but it also means that things sometimes go very slowly and real changes are rare.

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We love the sepia colour palette, what made you use such a classic tone?

Before my Master’s Degree I only worked with black and all shades of grey, always with only hints of colour, if at all. This is probably the biggest achievement of the Master’s Degree - the use of colour. For the collection I was going for a broken colour palette, to emphasise that used and kind of vintage look, making the garments appear already worn, as if they already had a long journey behind them.

I’m guessing you’ve seen ‘The Sound of Music’ a few times? What inspiration did you absorb from it?

Countless times. I think the main inspiration was the totally kitschy far off reality pictured of Austria, which is forever connected to the beauty of the Alps and the role of the Austrian folk costume. How everything comes together and represents an ideal world, the opposite of our fast going globalized one. I think this is the major fascination I am having with it.

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What made you want to be a Menswear fashion designer?

My postgraduate diploma collection was mixed. Containing 5 womens- & 5 menswear outfits. Participating with it in a couple of competitions and fashion shows, the major feedback from people who work in the industry was, that my menswear was considered as more directional.

The final ’confirmation’ was given when I was invited after Graduate Fashion Week to join the MA Fashion Design & Technology course at London College of Fashion for menswear. It just happened very fast.

But I am very pleased with the outcome and think it was the right decision. These days are exciting times to be a menswear designer, because the menswear market is gaining influence and is growing constantly.

Your pattern cutting technique looks pretty hardcore, what look was the most challenging to create?

Thanks, I grasp this as a huge complement!

It is hard to say, they were all challenging since I wanted to do something new and unusual for menswear: creating a new working silhouette to make a difference. There is a lot of volume in the majority of the pieces, due to the usage of the traditional techniques that I extracted from the Austrian national costume. So it was crucial to get a balance into each look individually.

Probably the most challenging task was the adaption of those traditional techniques. This can only be done by hand, which means that they are incredible time consuming and I can barley count the invested hours.

 

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In 3 words, what would you say is your design signature?

Quirky – different – innovative

Who would you say is the ideal Tina Elisabeth Reiter man?

Men with character, whatever age. What I do is definitely not fashion for fashion’s sake; therefore they need to be strong individuals to actually understand what the collection is about. This understanding is expressed in wearing the pieces themselves. Each piece is quite unusual regarding contemporary menswear silhouettes. So the act of wearing is already a statement.

What’s next for you?

I am participating in a couple of competitions and fashion events during the next weeks. But my priority is to continue as a menswear designer here in London.

Words by Sufiyeh Hadian
Photography by Jayden Tang
Hair & Makeup by Pei Chen
Models Paul & Jaco @ Select
Footwear & dungarees by Elin Melin

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