As The Style Examiner is always keen to examine the work of emerging creative individuals and brands, we have been keeping an eye on a number of talented Australian fashion designers who have been developing interesting concepts over the last few years. Citizen Deconstructed is one of such promising new labels that, despite extensive editorial coverage in Australia, has not had enough international projection.
The label’s current menswear collection, inspired by work and sportswear, includes an assortment of casual pieces in vibrant colours and relaxed fabrics such as denim and cotton that deserves some attention. The Style Examiner thinks that Citizen Deconstructed is a brand with the potential to garner more popularity from global male consumers. As such, we met with Robert Rigutto, the man behind the label, for an exclusive interview to find out more about the man and plans for Citizen Deconstructed.
Tell us about you and how you started in fashion.
When I was young I was interested mainly in two things: fashion and pop music. Back in the 1980s the two were very intertwined as music inspired and led fashion and was leading fashion. Quite often, a pop star would start wearing a look that would later be adopted by the fashion industry. I was very much into self expression, music and art from an early age, so I decided to study fashion design at East Sydney College, something that the majority of guys didn’t do back then. I then worked in Melbourne for a few years before moving to New York, where I worked as a designer for Barney’s, and then as a menswear design director for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and Kenneth Cole.
How did Citizen Deconstructed come about?
Essentially, it was born out of a necessity to work in Australia as there are hardly any menswear jobs here. At the same time, I felt that there was an opportunity in the market for cool men’s sportswear. I talked about starting something small with a friend who owns textiles factories in Hong Kong and, soon after, Citizen Deconstructed was born.
Why the name ‘Citizen Deconstructed’?
On a deeper level of meaning, we are all citizens in a world where societies and civilisations are being broken down, things are moving forward at a rapid pace, physical and mental barriers are coming down, and our individual and collective identities are being deconstructed. On a more basic level of fashion and clothes, the notion of deconstruction can be found in the ways in which we take apart the classic staples of a man’s wardrobe (including pants, denim jackets, and trench and pea coats) and put them back together in a different, newer, and more exciting way.
How many people are involved in the design, production and marketing of the brand?
It’s basically just me. I have help from my former partner and I work with two people in the Hong Kong office, who focus on production and sample management, but I do all the design, graphics, technical packages, fittings, selling, production of look books, marketing, etc. As you can imagine, it’s a little overwhelming for just one person, even though I have the support of one intern at a time, now and again.
What were your sources of inspiration for the current collection?
The collection is inspired by traditional notions of work wear as worn by male railroad workers, old time farmers, and postal workers of the mid west in the 1940s. However, the garments are reinterpreted to a modern look by resorting to appropriate fabrics, fit, proportion, and styling. The collection balances images of rugged masculinity with just the right amount of sophistication.
Which designers or labels inspire you?
I get inspired by vintage fashion, by people on the street, or by observing fashion history. I have an extensive fashion memory and have seen the fashion cycle quite a few times over the years, so it’s rare that something is truly new and original. Everything comes from the past; it’s the way that things are interpreted and presented that makes them new and interesting. There are labels (most of them womenswear) that I admire because of how they have consistent design aesthetics and unique creative signatures, but I don’t think I get inspired by them: admiration and inspiration are two very different things.
How would you define the Citizen Deconstructed customer?
It’s hard to define a typical customer these days both for Citizen Deconstructed and for most menswear labels as fortunately male consumers have developed their own taste and aren’t as loyal to a brand as they once were. As such, a Citizen Deconstructed customer mixes labels and clothes and is not someone who goes for a head-to-toe label look. I would also say that he likes bold colour and is likes his clothes with just the right amount of twist. He also likes to feel a little sexy as our clothes are cut with an athletic fit in mind. He is probably a sporty guy who likes to have fun and doesn’t take things too seriously.
What are the expansion plans for Citizen Deconstructed?
So far, I have been focussing on my home market in Australia and have started selling in Hong Kong too. The current global market is tough for new young emerging labels but we have had good reactions to Citizen Deconstructed and are planning further expansion in China and into the USA.