Amsterdam-based brand Filling Pieces is known for its thoughtful, structural footwear, and its edgy streetwear spin. Creative director and founder, Guillaume Philibert, launched the brand in 2009 to focus on an experimentation with texture, materials, color, and a “form follows function” approach—heavily inspired by his educational background in architecture. Today, Philibert is sharing some exciting news, as Filling Pieces is celebrating its first foray outside of footwear and launching a ready-to-wear collection exclusively with Barneys New York.
The new collection—full of satin track pants, joggers, bomber jackets, tee shirts, and of course, new sneakers—has an artistic spin. On many of the tops, we see snippets of images from the Guggenheim (drawing from his love of the building from Frank Lloyd Wright), and a jacket (made largely of polyethylene) crafted of washed tech ripstop for a crinkled paper feel and appearance.
To celebrate its launch this week at Barneys in New York and L.A., and online, too, Whitewall spoke with Philibert.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about why you initially created Filling Pieces. What was missing in the market?
GUILLAUME PHILIBERT: Filling Pieces was founded nine years ago as a footwear label that bridges the gap between streetwear and high-end fashion. Back in those days there was still a big gap between streetwear and luxury sneakers. As a student I couldn’t afford to buy designer sneakers, and with a pair of sportswear trainers, you couldn’t get in to a club, for instance. For me it started when I first bought a pair of designer sneakers, I had saved up money by working in a clothing store for a long time, to me it was a special feeling being able to buy such an expensive shoe. However, due to my study in architecture I started thinking what it would be like to design a luxury product that would be available for half the price of what the designer brand were offering it for. That sums it all up. I made a sketch and started looking online for production facilities—that’s when the journey of Filling Pieces started.
WW:: What’s the brand’s driving message?
GP: Aside from the fact that we aim to bridge gaps in the luxury and street wear segments, we also strive to bring people together. Regardless of upbringing or background, especially in today’s fast paced society, it’s important to show the kids a positive perspective. Offering a platform for talent is something we’ve always done and strongly believe in. As descendants of immigrants we take pride in the melting pot of cultures we grew up around in Amsterdam. This has inspired us to become who we are today.
WW: Tell us a bit about your RTW collection, released exclusively with Barneys New York.
GP: For us as Filling Pieces, footwear has been our game since the start. However, as we’ve evolved as a brand and company, we also started looking at potential new opportunities to expand our universe. Ready to wear was one of those opportunities.
We didn’t actually plan on starting at a specific time, it was just a thought, until about one year ago. Barneys New York, who has been an amazing partner for us on footwear, reached out asking if we would be interested in working on a collaborative ready to wear project. An opportunity we just couldn’t refuse. Since that day we started doing our research, design and development journey.
Being able to work with a household name like Barney’s New York on our debut ready-to-wear collection is an absolute dream come through. After doing some research we came up with the idea to take a similar approach as we did with our footwear, taking inspiration from my formal architecture education. I remember the lessons about the late and great of the architecture world. Hence, the collection theme (“form follows function”)—an architectural principle made famous by one of my favorite architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. As with our footwear we aim to deliver the best possible product with the same aesthetics and high-quality materials.
WW: This is your first foray outside of footwear. Why now?
GP: After eight years in the footwear game we saw new opportunities and we felt confident about it. As we live in this fast-paced, digitally-driven age, it’s important to seize opportunities whenever they arise. We have learned a lot about the fashion industry by doing footwear for all these years. I felt like a natural step to expand our universe with apparel.
WW: You design with “form follows function” in mind. What types of designs, or complete pieces, in the new collection particularly reflect that?
GP: The Barneys collection was designed using graphic of the Guggenheim’s iconic staircases and architectural designs as inspiration in the lining of several pieces. And for example, with the track pants, we wanted to create a high-quality, comfortable pants that can be worn on various occasions and is still casual. From that thought the design followed.
WW: The collection is made up of luxury materials with technical fabrics. What are some examples of this? Any favorites?
GP: For the track suit, which is definitely one of my top favorites, we used Italian nylon metal which was double dyed to give it a distinctive metallic and iridescent sheen. It’s amazing to see that whole process. Furthermore, in my eyes the perfect pant, the Athlete Pants. Made with comfortable stretch nylon with an elasticated waistband this perfectly fits our brand ethos, it’s smart enough to wear at formal occasions but you can also wear it during an off day with a baggy sweater.
WW: Tell us a bit about designing for footwear vs. designing attire and accessories.
GP: It’s a completely different ballgame. Something we slightly underestimated at first. With shoes, for us now, it’s not that complicated. We’re just starting with clothing, we’re still learning but making great attire is definitely different. The use of fabrics and working with different patterns and blocks, it’s very interesting to see how that works.
WW: You’ve previously collaborated on pieces with others (such as Ronnie from KITH). Can you tell us a bit about designing in collaboration?
GP: That’s an interesting question. In fashion in both footwear and apparel, collaboration has become as easy as co-branding an existing product. We feel a collaboration should be more than just putting a logo on a product. Seeing the most unexpected collaborations coming to fruition this past year only has made us think about it a lot more. We feel our aesthetics, values and vision speak for itself and think this should also resonate with the partners we team up with. Working on a collaboration should not be solely about the final product but more about the journey and learning you get out of it. It’s about inspiring and being inspired.
WW: Any future wish-list creators you want to collaborate with?
GP: Of course we have a wish-list, but we don’t want to jinx anything. Only thing we can say, we are working on a special project which will be seeing the light of day this year. A very interesting collaboration where different disciplines inspire and learn from each other.
WW: You also seem to have a very lifestyle-focused approach to the brand (on Instagram we noticed music, travel, and other brands being spotlighted). Tell us a bit about some of your continual inspirations.
GP: Traveling is definitely one the biggest inspirations, being able to experience different cultures and meet new people is amazing. Also coming from the Amsterdam, and seeing the world we live in today, inspires us a lot. We are very privileged to be doing what we are today.