Style File: James Bush

Style File James Bush

Designer James Bush. Image supplied.

Wellington-based designer James Bush launched Collection 01 2022 from his eponymous label this week. James is a graduate of Massey University and the University of Westminster’s prestigious Masters programme specialising in menswear. He grew up in a family of architects with an insatiable interest in art history and design and brings an acute attention to object, form and space to his work. James perfected his craft working as a designer, patternmaker, and tailor in a number of high-end ateliers in Paris, Brussels, and London, as well as costume tailoring for film and TV. A graduate program with the British Fashion Council saw James mentored by LVMH Director of Executive Development, Jane Palmer Williams. James’ time in London opened his eyes to the potential for menswear tailoring cues to be incorporated into a womenswear line. He returned to Wellington in 2020 to launch his own label.

We caught up with James to find out more about his collection, what inspires him and what you would never catch him wearing!

Tell us about your latest collection?

In my work I am inspired by the relationship between perceived notions of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ and how these have been developed into languages of detailing, cut and proportion. In my latest collection, I have fused the language of men’s tailoring – the stitching, details and fabrication – with traditional European dressmaking techniques to create womenswear that is elegant and refined, yet is grounded by a sense of strength and control.

What made you become a designer?

I grew up in a very design focused environment so it was a natural direction for me to take. I took a while to decide between fashion and architecture, but fashion won out because it’s more democratic. Everyone engages with clothing choices every day and in that sense there is an immediate relationship with people and their bodies which I find fascinating.

What inspires you?

I’m particularly inspired by spaces and the ways in which people move through them. How does a building convey a sense of awe or peace? How can these same proportions and sense of materials be translated into clothing?

Style File James Bush

Looks from James Bush’s Collection 01 2022.

Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?

My personal style is heavily tailored, but I like to mix this with unexpected garments or accessories. If everything is tailored, I like to wear a chunky shoe or a sweatshirt to balance it out a bit. My design work is rooted in tailoring too but it’s the unexpected juxtaposition, or mixing of different ingredients, that I discovered first in my own wardrobe.

What is your all-⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠time favourite purchase?

A Comme des Garcons ankle length kilt. I bought this second hand when I was 18 and it was the first major designer purchase I ever made. I’d never worn anything else like it and it reminds me to go my own way.

What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?

A really great coat and then wear it to death. I love beautiful coats when they’re threadbare and ragged.

Do you have a style rule you always obey?

Wear the clothes, don’t let them wear you. Understand what you bring to the equation and make your wardrobe choices accordingly.

Style File James Bush

Looks from James Bush’s Collection 01 2022.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The year I spent on the British Fashion Council’s graduate program being mentored by LVMH’s director of executive development, Jane Palmer Williams. Jane helped me understand who I am as a person and a designer.

What can’t you live without?

My coats. I love how they move when I walk or get caught in the wind, nothing like a bit of drama.

Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…

I’m open to everything if it’s done in the right way.

Images supplied.