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Your Space Or Mine

York-based designer Matty Bovan brings his cut-and-paste style to the streets

We catch up with the designer and founder of the eponymous label to talk about a very special installment of our Your Space Or Mine series.

Some pictures were never meant to be seen. That’s what makes our collaboration with Matty Bovan, the latest in our Your Space or Mine series, so exciting. The collection of posters features images of Matty in his studio trying on his own pieces, fitting photos that were only ever intended for personal reference. Collaged together with bright, eye-catching colours alongside his playful logo, they are evocative of DIY zines and offer a rare insight into the designer’s process. He designed every poster himself, intending to get across a “certain energy” intended to convey his personal energy into the spectacle of each.

02.09.21

Words by Marianne Eloise

30-year-old designer Matty Bovan has been innovating with knitted textiles since the start of his career. Born in York, he studied Fashion Knitwear at Central Saint Martins in London, completing an MA in the same subject in 2015. It was there that he honed his skills for unique, cut-together pieces of knitwear, showcasing a 12-look collection in his graduate show and earning the L’Oréal Professional Creative Award and the LVMH Graduate Prize the same year, which led to a placement at Louis Vuitton under Nicolas Ghesquière and later worked with Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu.

His gender neutral, playful pieces are all local and sustainable, crafted in York where he still lives today. That refusal to give into a London-centric industry only makes Matty’s work more impressive. He’s unreservedly inspired by Yorkshire, particularly the diverse history of York, particularly its diverse history: “The medieval, the Tudor, the Roman, the Viking; it’s romantic and cruel at the same time,” says Matty. After graduating, he showed with Fashion East for three seasons before moving to a standalone show, stamping his identity onto his work. Matty is unafraid to play with knitwear, fashion, and the rules of his industry, cutting, stitching, and repurposing end of line materials, and leftover fabrics, in a move that promotes sustainability while crafting exciting new clothes. His pieces have been worn by loyal followers such as Adwoa Aboah, Björk and Georgia May Jagger.

Photo: Matty Bovan Studio
Photo: Matty Bovan Studio

With each garment touched by his hand, with processes such as hand-crafting, hand-dyed yarns, and crochet, each piece is truly unique, with some styles that include special appliqué, even numbered in limited edition, and he exists at an exciting intersection of designer and artist. He recently released a zine and capsule collection called BOVAN Butterfly FC, a project that subverts the stereotypes and conventions of football fans. Butterfly FC was released following England’s tense Euros loss, and speaking to Hypebeast, Matty said, “I tie-dyed loads of different T-shirts and then printed over them, with some featuring a butterfly and text. Each shirt is unique having been hand screen-printed in York in our studio.” Refusing to be pigeonholed, Matty’s work defies all expectations, and we’re excited to see what he does next.

Later this year, Matty will be exhibiting at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in a show that again blends fashion and art. The event, “Boomerang”, is intended to question the “construction of identity, authorship and ideas of personal ‘brand’ in the age of social media.” Visitors to the exhibition will choose from a selection of “sculptural fashion designs” crafted by Matty and be photographed wearing them but won’t be allowed to take their own photo. The photos will then only be published in print. Of the exhibition, Yorkshire sculpture park says, “at a time where the average concentration of an artwork or image is three seconds, participants will be encouraged to engage with his wearable artworks for a minimum of 10 minutes.”

According to the park, Matty has previously nodded to their influence on his work and undertook a research residency in the National Arts Education Archive there in 2019. Proudly leaning into his roots, Matty is living proof that when they won’t come to you, you must build something worth seeing. We’re excited to be collaborating with Matty, and we hope that it will bring even more eyes and fans to his pieces on the streets of London, showing that you don’t need to be here to make a serious impact.

How did growing up in York influence your work?
York always inspired me, the different levels of history, the medieval, the Tudor, the Roman, the Viking; it’s romantic and cruel at the same time.

Tell us about the Your Space Or Mine collaboration with BUILDHOLLYWOOD – how did you get the inspiration and come to create it?
In a way it’s using fitting photos from the past 10 seasons of mine, and in that way they are uncontrived. They just happened at that time, with no thought of them ever being shown like this, and that allows them a certain freedom and sense of their own identity. I have a very specific layout style, and I did design them all myself as I wanted a certain energy in the billboards.

You’re an interdisciplinary creative, working on zines, art and fashion – do they all feed each other?
Totally, it’s important to push myself into different creative endeavours, and this always helps me in all other aspects.

How does it feel to have your work recognised, especially by awards? (International Woolmark Prize, Karl Lagerfeld)
It’s been incredible, I’m so honoured and humbled to have received both prizes. The support and validation means the world to me.

Your work is shaped by localism and slow creation, which was helped by lockdown, but always a choice you made. Why?
I’ve always tried to work as locally as possible, and it just amazes me how many talented people I have found on my journey. I don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to discover and support local talent when and where they can.

You’re an interdisciplinary creative, working on zines, art and fashion – do they all feed each other?
Totally, it’s important to push myself into different creative endeavours, and this always helps me in all other aspects.

How does it feel to have your work recognised, especially by awards? (International Woolmark Prize, Karl Lagerfeld)
It’s been incredible, I’m so honoured and humbled to have received both prizes. The support and validation means the world to me.

Your work is shaped by localism and slow creation, which was helped by lockdown, but always a choice you made. Why?
I’ve always tried to work as locally as possible, and it just amazes me how many talented people I have found on my journey. I don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to discover and support local talent when and where they can.

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