‘We know what Superdry do and they do it amazingly,’ says Idris Elba. However, when the clothing company enlisted his help, it was because it ‘wanted a departure’. He expands: ‘I certainly thought my collaboration should be more of my essence… something a little less with the logos and a lot more smart than casual.’
In a nutshell, that’s the rationale behind the Idris + Superdry collection, now into its second season. The youthful logo-heavy brand, founded by Julian Dunkerton and James Holder in 2003, has, through this project, been taken in a new direction, one that is more appropriate to an older customer looking for pieces that are a little more elegant and restrained.
‘Actually, Idris was already wearing Superdry – picking what was appropriate for him – and that’s how we met him,’ says Dunkerton. Like Elba, who is 43, Dunkerton and his co-founder are no skinny teenagers themselves, so the project is, perhaps, an acknowledgement that there’s room for a tweaked aesthetic from the brand to suit customers who may have grown out of the more ostentatious style Superdry has been selling for well over a decade.
‘We hit it off,’ says Holder. ‘Same ideas about fashion, same work ethic. We decided to do something together. Idris was very involved in the design process – it’s not just a case of putting a face to a brand. That’s not our way at all.’
The result is a collection of core men’s pieces – shirts, sweats, casual jackets, coats, jeans and the like – that still possess the brand’s love of details (pockets, belts, patterned linings) but where this has all been dialled down. What you get is value for money, and Elba’s personal style.
‘I design for my generation, and I hope my generation really like it, but at the same time there are pieces for younger people that I think could definitely work for them.’ However, the look is decidedly based around his wardrobe: ‘It started off really with what I wear – and yes, these are my favourite cut of jeans, this is my favourite type of T-shirt – and we sort of embellished on that.’ The aesthetic is, he says, firmly home-grown. ‘The truth is I designed it for the English gent. You know, we like a type of skinny jean, we like a type of fit in our T-shirts and granddads and knitwear.’
For Dunkerton, Elba is the perfect collaborator for a brand looking to broaden its appeal: ‘He’s just the coolest Brit out there.’