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Flipping Fabric: what’s in the name of a garment?

Well, for the Fraser Crowe’s creative team, sometimes a bit of fun, maybe a splash of irony, possibly a design or historical reference; and usually a nod to the thinking behind the design or how the piece is worn. Now and again, when it flows, there’s a play on words.

Let’s talk nomenclature in two of Fraser Crowe’s more understated garments.

Heads or Tails?

An elegant soft open jacket designed to be worn two ways: like flipping a coin, you can decide which way to wear this piece. Choose a soft shawl collar with flattering tails, or flip it to become a sharper collared piece with a soft hemline. A versatile staple with a difference.

fraser crowe heads or tails soft jacket

Flipping a coin, asking Heads or Tails implies leaving things up to chance, taking a risk, making a bet, and letting something unpredictable determine a decision. Fraser Crowe chose this name for this wardrobe staple because, aside from the obvious relationship to flipping the fabric 180 degrees to wear the piece a second way, one of our favourite questions in the workroom is what would happen if we turned it upside down?. Decision making towards the conclusion of our design process is never left to chance, but the value of being open to surprise and fostering a certain amount of randomness in our experimentation and reiteration phases is key. It’s an approach we seem unable to avoid and a win-win; playing with placement on the body and embedding multiple ways to wear our pieces not only creates a fun design process, but gives the wearer versatility in one piece.

fraser crowe heads or tails soft jacket

Shop Heads or Tails


It’s All Academic

An oversized flowing longline top named as such to reference an attitude and a historical garment. Crafted in fluid viscose or silk, this lightweight robe is the opposite of a heavy academic gown. The fit is light, relaxed and elegant. Style as a sophisticated pullover-anything top, or flip the funnel to the back and wear like a kimono.

Googling the phrase it’s all academic, we were surprised by how many references to sport popped up. Do commentators really commonly use that phrase in the last 3 minutes of sports games? Not that we’ve heard! Mind you, the Fraser Crowe design team don’t spend a lot of time listening to sports commentators.

Our point of reference for this oversize top emerges from observations of academic regalia, or ‘capa clausa’, the gowns originating from 12th century England, when university education was tied to the church; these heavy robes that are still worn (symbolically) by academics and graduands in formal situations all over the world.

Commonly viewing things through a lens of duality, Fraser Crowe’s It’s All Academic moniker also pokes fun at becoming resigned, an attitude of things being too late, too theoretical, too abstract, speculative, hypothetical, in fact the opposite of real. While the design team have occupied academic spaces and love the debate, we also enjoy irony, and to laugh at ourselves.

But don’t get us wrong! Nomenclature and indexing are important: classification, how we identify things, how things are categorised can be massive in theory and practice about design, visual culture and how objects and things impact on our world. For example we’d rather refer to our garments as clothing, more than fashion. We’re interested in the ongoing discussion about fashion being dead and delighted at how this is discussed by Li Edelkoort in her Anti Fashion Manifesto, 2015. Edelkoort promotes that the fashion system is obsolete, citing the death of fashion with a capital F in favour of a celebration and discussion of clothes, and the comeback of couture.

fraser crower hits all academic oversize top

Shop It’s All Academic

From another perspective, we totally love hearing how our customers are describing their new clothes. How they use language around the works is often more direct, and we respect that! Recent cracker phrases we’ve heard were “I feel like I’m at a party in this dress’, ‘my new floatie coatie is amazing’ and ‘this top makes me feel like I could perform magic’.

What else might be embedded in the name of a garment, or how it’s talked about? Have you ever bought something because of its name or title? Come on, admit it! I recall buying a pair of beautiful boots partly because they had the same name as my late mother, an artwork because it included a reference to my sister’s name and Fraser Crowe named a top after another sister.

The importance of nomenclature goes on, in various forms, and with many meanings…

Check out this history of the LBD, referencing how in 1926 Vogue editors dubbed Coco Chanel’s Little Black Dress “The Ford” because it mirrored the democratic ideals (and limit of colourway) to Ford’s Model T car. Or this piece about giving garments with female names.

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