Have you been to see? Hobbs and Shaw yet? It’s the latest episode of the Fast and furious franchise, a spin-off starring Vanessa Kirby, Jason Statham, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Idris Elba, and it’s pretty good at mindless summer action movies. Now I know what you’re thinking: he just likes it because it has some cool cars. But here’s a secret: I’m much more in love with the way everyone is dressed in the movie.
Much of the credit for that goes to Sarah Evelyn, the film’s costume designer. But there’s another influence at work in the wardrobe department, that of techwear featured Errolson Hugh. Hugh has been referred to as “your favorite designer’s favorite designer,” although you may know him recently from having started that bottle cap challenge earlier this summer.
It’s fair to say that Hugh’s attitude to design, especially with his label, Acronym, is uncompromising. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Gordon Murray’s approach to designing the McLaren F1. Like Murray, Hugh’s job is heavy with the latest technology – it’s called ‘techwear’ after all. But instead of ultralight composites (the McLaren F1 was the first production road car made entirely of carbon fiber), it uses advanced fabrics from companies like Schoeller, Gore and Nextec.
Of course, it’s more than just smart textiles – after all, you can use that and still make clothes that you can blend in; you know, normal looking stuff. About the only place you get absorbed in wearing a head-to-toe acronym might be at a conference for space ninjas from the future, which is likely what drew Evelyn to his work. But we’re not talking about cosplay outfits here – form follows function, and every detail has a reason. An avid martial artist, Hugh often cites his first karate gi as the source of inspiration for his pattern designs that minimize your movement, as demonstrated in a series of ‘Acronymjutsu’ videos the cryptic brand comes closest to advertising ever.
I suspected that Acronym would appear in Hobbs and Shaw when the first trailer showed our eponymous heroes in jumpsuits. These had a rather distinctive style of pockets, almost identical to the ones you’ll find on acronym P24A pants. (All of Acronym’s designs have alphanumeric designations instead of names.) And while a big-budget action movie was the last place I expected to see the label pop up, it wasn’t that far-fetched. Statham is a high profile fan, along with William Gibson, John Mayer and the late Robin Williams (yes, really).
Hobbs and Shaw, along with Shaw’s sister, get their wardrobe upgrade after a visit to Madam M, Shaw’s Russian friend who aids the trio in their plan to break into the bad guys’ headquarters. First, there are those tailored jumpsuits; once on the ground, our heroes stick to the techwear vibe. After all, who? not do you want to look like a space ninja? In fact, the techwear look extends to the diverse evil scientists and muscles who work for the evil Eteon group, though Brixton, Idris Elba’s transhuman villain, owes a lot more to motocross.
I had to be sure, so I contacted the Berlin designer. This is what he told me:
“It all happened because one day Jason walked into the wardrobe and said, ‘Oh, I know that man. “We were on the mood boards for a lot of the stuff. But they were motivated and really wanted us to do the main outfits for Jason and Dwayne. The whole thing was super smooth. We sent patterns and materials and they built all iterations. They had Needed 15 of each in about five weeks. I have no idea how they managed it.”
Statham’s ensemble was almost strictly off the shelf. “Statham rocked stock P10As and a J73 with an arm patch! Looked great and fit perfectly,” Hugh told me. It probably helped that the actor already knew his size; for its substantial fare they had to get a little more creative. That black vest is one of Hugh’s designed for Stone Island’s Shadow Project collection, modified to match The Rock. “Dwayne’s vest was rebuilt – we only had medium – and his pants were re-fitted with oversized P24As,” he said.
As tech wear enthusiasts already know, wearing a lot of black water-repellent fabric works quite well when it’s cold and wet outside, but less so when the climate turns tropical. So it’s not much of a surprise that by the time our movie comes to an end in Samoa, our heroes will be back in more normal outfits. But that’s okay – not every car in the film can also be a McLaren 720S.
View image by Universal Pictures