You know T-Michael. In his role as street style photographers’ darling or Pinterest board muse, I guarantee his trademark dreadlocked hair and peerless talent in layering tailored clothes will have passed under your fingers as you scroll unseeing through your Tumblr feed. What you may not realise is he is more than a JPEG saved in your ‘Inspiration’ folder on your desktop; he is a renowned menswear designer and bespoke tailor.
Now a resident of Bergen in Norway, T-Michael spent his formative years in London, a city where traditional tailoring and some of the most forward-thinking street style subjects and young designers juxtapose. Did this city sharpen his senses in regards to various forms of expression through style?
“My style is an organic thing. It’s evolved over the years and is in constant yet subtle change. It’s a combination of all the things I’ve been influenced by. I get really inspired when I see a look or style cultivated right. I most likely won’t be duplicating or wearing the same thing but the energy and vision it portrays gets me all fired up! The punk inspired look, the rudeboy, the hipster, afro-fantastic looks, the all black layering; they all leave a very welcoming blemish.”
T-Michael’s customer is ready made; they are the bloggers who post his outfits, his 17,000 Instagram followers, those who like his every move on Facebook. But how does having this level of acclaim and trust in his innate stylishness influence his designs?
“In regards to T-MICHAEL my style and taste is exactly what T-MICHAEL is… I love being hands on; magic happens when one is deeply submerged in one project. I love finding solutions in, and refining details of, traditional pieces,; customising existing art forms to reflect my soul, character and style.”[/vc_column_text]
“Being able to tailor and shape a garment involves knowing your proportions, your pattern cutting and your ability to translate ideas into a functioning garment. Once that is mastered, the fun starts!”
We like to think our success is because of the balance between function and style; keeping you dry whilst preserving your love for creativity.
Of Norwegian Rain I have written, ‘They are giving you rainwear that doesn’t hide and protect an outfit; it is the outfit.’ Aesthetics and protection do not clash in these clothes; they are woven together throughout; analogous to the style and art of Bergen being set against the rural backdrop, it could be argued itself perfectly designed.
“Function precedes form this time so the designs are put to the test and then tweaked to perform the task that we seek out create: designs that are tailored and stylistic without compromising on function. In Bergen, our customers buy the coats based on the strength of the functionality; the style element is an added value. On the international market it is the other way round; it shows the versatility.”
Norwegian Rain seems to have struck a balance between a Japanese ideology, in terms of the garment’s responsibility to do its job honourably, and the much-celebrated Scandinavian minimal aesthetic, was this intentional?
“The Japanese sensibility that we talk about is the shaving off of all frivolous details and leaving details that enhance the design in loud whispers. We blend the traditional with the innovative to create pieces that challenge the divide between high performance, tailoring and cutting edge; a celebration of the old and the new. In our world ‘Japanese sensibility’ is the harmony between contrasting ideas. The Scandinavian approach about toning down and fitting in so, done right it is very Zen like in nature. It’s powerful and alluring yet unassuming.”
T-Michael’s passion for his hometown of Bergen is evident; in particular for the ‘snap of the finger’ speed its residents can move from city to mountain. This is vital to the Norwegian Air philosophy. Their success is due to their understanding of urbanite’s struggles with extreme environments and seasons.
“A quick wipe down with a moist cloth or chuck it in the washing machine at 30 degrees and you are ready for that all important meeting the next day! We like to think our success is because of the balance between function and style; keeping you dry whilst preserving your love for creativity. I hope that what we do inspires our customers so much that it encourages them to cultivate their own styles, and to then inspire others.”
Norwegian Rain won Vogue Italy’s ‘Talented Newcomer 2010’ award and Norway’s ‘Designer of the Year’ in 2012.
Photo credits: Bent René Synnevåg – Courtesy of T-Michael
Written by Ms. Harriet May de Vere