The clothing label that urges you to be a citizen of the world: Melbourne label COLDSYSTEM is doing sustainable fashion right.

To suggest COLDSYSTEM is simply a clothing label would severely undercut the steps designer Gabriel Waterman has taken to create garments that have an awareness and sense of responsibility. NOMADIC, the latest collection from the label celebrates traditional techniques from Nepalese artisans, and focuses on championing the continuation of knowledge and craft being handed down generation to generation. We chatted with Waterman at length about the wonders and concepts of COLDSYSTEM.

Why fashion? Why menswear?

I create clothing because it gives people an opportunity to become part of a community. As most of us belong to a multicultural society, it is often hard to pinpoint exactly where we as individuals fit into an environment such as this. COLDSYSTEM was created to invite the wearer to become part of a community that embodies both a cultural and social understanding of the modern times we find ourselves in.

How long have you been doing COLDSYSTEM for? Where does the name come from?

I started the label at the end of 2013 while travelling through Kashmir, India, so about 18 months.

My studies in the humanities and earth sciences have helped to contextualise COLDSYSTEM and see concepts such as NOMADIC come to life. The name COLDSYSTEM stems from an appreciation for the natural environment and acts as a metaphor of respect for the high places of our earth.

Some of the pieces appear unisex. What are your thoughts on girls wearing your threads?

My clothes are for both men and women although this season I did design half of the NOMADIC collection specifically for women. I take a mutual approach to all COLDSYSTEM designs by having the line between men and woman blurred, thus making them equal.

What’s the backstory of this collection?

From travels earlier this year, COLDSYSTEM teamed up with a group of traditional Nepalese artisans to create the NOMADIC winter collection.

The NOMADIC collection focuses on the important knowledge carried down from generation to generation by the nomads of traditional pastoral lands around the world. Nomadic tribes still to this day use the changing of the seasons to support a subsistent lifestyle in an often harsh natural environment.

From the high plateaus of Mongolia, cashmere of the highest quality has been carefully selected. Traditional nomadic herders still to this day use a hand-combing technique to gather the hair from the cashmere goat with each individual goat taking roughly four years to produce enough hair for a single sweater. For this reason, a limited amount of garments are to be released to compliment the slow process that both the herders and goats have gone through to produce the NOMADIC collection.

Throughout the collection, fundamental approaches towards true nomadic attire are highlighted paying special attention to comfort and functionality. COLDSYSTEM’s Mongolian origin fibres are spun and transformed into the highest quality material by local Himalayan artisans through the use of old hand-weaving techniques. Garments across the entire NOMADIC collection imply a sense of wandering with all the comfort and functionality needed to support the life of a nomad.

Talk us through your design processes-from concept to production and release.

Through a hand drawing process, designs are illustrated and re-worked until the desired appeal is reached, then comes the first stages of pattern drafting. After a ‘trial and error test’ of the finished patterns, the planning of fabrics begins.

For the NOMADIC collection, I travelled extensively through Northern India and Nepal in search of textiles that I thought would best compliment the collection. On my travels, the concept itself manifested slowly through the process of meeting interesting people and their cultures. The various landscapes that I moved through also gave fresh and inspiring energy to the NOMADIC idea. Finally, the Mongolian cashmere that I came to discover became the natural choice because it involved the skills of the traditional Himalayan artisans themselves.

Why do you think it’s important to utilise traditional craftsmanship and techniques like those found in your collection? What do they offer to the collection that sets it apart?

In working with traditional craftsman, not only is the cultural heritage of a people celebrated, so too is the traditional art form in practice. Introducing traditional Himalayan hand-weaving techniques has been vital in helping the collection come to life. Through this process, lush Mongolian yarns have been delicately spun into incredibly soft, warm and authentic COLDSYSTEM garments. This is what sets the label apart from the rest.

Where do you fit into the “fashion landscape” of Australia?

COLDSYSTEM takes a step back from the “fashion landscape” of Australia and instead chooses to introduce itself as a label of the world. By doing so, mutual understandings of culture and environment can be more fully expressed and appreciated.

What kind of Melburnian wears COLDSYSTEM?

COLDSYSTEM is for the person with a discerning eye for detail and an appreciation for high quality design and luxury fabrics coupled with a respect for the natural world that is often hard to maintain in our modern urban environments.

Words by Jamie-maree Shipton.


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