The designer Jonathan Anderson splits his time between London, where his namesake brand is based, and Paris and Madrid, where Loewe, at which he is the creative director, is, though he was in New York last week, shooting a campaign with Steven Meisel. The constant bounce around the world didn’t seem to faze him.
“Work is easy if you have major teams around you,” he said, three iPhones sandwiched in one hand (personal; J. W. Anderson; Loewe). “You just let people do what they’re best at.”
Mr. Anderson, 31, is a believer in division of labor, who prefers to think of himself as an “editor” rather than a designer. It’s a peculiarly modern point of view (at least, admitting it is). Over the course of a spin through Printed Matter, the art book- and zine-shop where he likes to conduct New York interviews, the better to shop all the while, I called him a factory foreman and an impresario. He agreed with both.
“Sometimes you think, ‘God, how do you let someone just come into the brand?’ but it’s very fulfilling,” he said. “You become like a manager and manage the situation.”
It is a logic that led him to open his first store, J. W. Anderson Workshops, in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London in January, carrying a mix of his J. W. Anderson collection and a series of collaborations with individuals who catch his fancy. They cycle through at a rate of about one a month, and draw in people whose names may not be familiar to many fashion consumers: the photographer Ian David Baker, the editor and publisher Luis Venegas, the ceramist Giles Round.
“I’m easily bored, so it’s quite perfect to do different things,” Mr. Anderson said. “I can’t do everything on my own.”
His latest collaborator is far less obscure: He’s the fashion-obsessed rapper ASAP Rocky, a fan of J. W. Anderson, who adapted some of Mr. Anderson’s designs into a capsule collection of tracksuits, knit hats and fur “teddy” coats.
“What we do is completely different,” Mr. Anderson said, “but fundamentally, that’s the beauty of fashion: You can meet in the middle on it. Everyone likes fashion.”
Rocky was a customer first, buying Mr. Anderson’s collections and eventually turning up at his show. He wore one of Mr. Anderson’s zippered track tops in a music video, but he aspired to a full tracksuit. Thus was a new collaboration born.
“I would never want to be a fashion designer,” he said via email, having been unreachable by conventional means. “But I do have a lot of ideas.” Still, he has shown up often at fashion events and shows, name-checked brands and collaborated with Guess Originals and Adidas Originals.
The new collection, which can be pre-ordered on the J. W. Anderson website on Thursday and will be available from the Shoreditch Workshops store on Monday, ranges from $275 for a beanie to $1,300 for one of the teddy coats. Rocky, as he is known, was given free rein, even down to the design of a new logo, spelling out, inscrutably, JWA AWGE.
“The first rule of AWGE is don’t ask questions about AWGE,” Rocky wrote in explanation (or not). “The second rule of AWGE is that if you are a part of AWGE, then you cannot discuss AWGE. The third rule of AWGE is refer back to rule number one if you have any questions.”
Pressed to elaborate, he offered: “It is a collective of creatives that come from multiple disciplines including visual arts, fashion and music. No one needs to know what the letters stand for. We know what it is, and that’s how we want to keep it.”
“We” does not, apparently, include Mr. Anderson, who didn’t seem to mind.
“He was allowed to do whatever he wanted to do,” Mr. Anderson said. “I don’t know what it means. I was just like, O.K., fine, whatever you want. I like that.”