Have you been to see Hobbs and Shaw yet? It’s the latest installment from the Fast and Furious franchise, a spinoff starring Vanessa Kirby, Jason Statham, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Idris Elba, and it’s pretty darn good as far as mindless summer action flicks go. Now, I know what you’re thinking: he only really likes it because it’s got some cool cars. But here’s a secret—I’m far 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 luminary Errolson Hugh. Hugh has been called “your favorite designer’s favorite designer,” although more recently you might know him from having started that bottle cap challenge earlier this summer.
It’s fair to say Hugh’s attitude towards design, particularly 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 work is heavy with the latest technology—it is called techwear after all. But instead of ultra lightweight composites (the McLaren F1 was the first production road car to be made completely from carbon fiber), it’s cutting edge fabrics from companies like Schoeller, Gore, and Nextec.
Of course, it’s more than just clever textiles—after all you can use those and still make clothes that let you blend in; you know, normal-looking stuff. About the only place you’ll blend in wearing head-to-toe Acronym might be at a conference for space ninjas from the future, which is probably what drew Evelyn to his work. But we’re not talking cosplay outfits here—form follows function, and every detail has a reason behind it. A keen martial artist, Hugh often credits his first karate gi as the inspiration for his pattern designs that restrict your movement as little as possible, as demonstrated in a series of “Acronymjutsu” videos that are the closest the cryptic brand ever gets to advertising.
I had an inkling that Acronym was going to feature in Hobbs and Shaw when the first trailer showed our eponymous heroes wearing jumpsuits. These featured a rather distinctive style of pocket, almost identical to the ones you find on a pair of Acronym P24A pants. (All of Acronym’s designs have alphanumeric designations rather than names.) And although a big-budget action movie was the last place I expected to see the label show up, it wasn’t that far-fetched. Statham is a high-profile fan, along William Gibson, John Mayer, and the late Robin Williams (yes, really).
Hobbs and Shaw, along with Shaw’s sister, get their wardrobe upgrade after visiting Madam M, a Russian friend of Shaw’s who helps the trio in their plan to break into the bad guys’ HQ. First, there are those custom jumpsuits; once on the ground our heroes stick with the techwear vibe. After all, who doesn’t want to look like a space ninja? In fact, the techwear look extends to the assorted evil scientists and muscle working for the evil Eteon group, although Idris Elba’s transhuman villain Brixton owes a lot more to motocross.
I had to know for sure, so reached out to the Berlin-based designer. Here’s what he told me:
“The whole thing happened because Jason walked into wardrobe one day and was like ‘”Oh I know that guy.” We were on the mood boards for a lot of the stuff. But they were motivated and were really keen to get 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 the iterations. They needed 15 of each in like five weeks. I have no idea how they pulled it off.”
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 his substantial costar they had to get a bit more creative. That black vest is one Hugh designed for Stone Island’s Shadow Project collection, modified to fit The Rock. “Dwayne’s vest was a rebuild—we only had medium—and his pants were refitted extra-large P24As,” he said.
As techwear devotees will already know, wearing a lot of black water-resistant fabric works pretty well when it’s cold and wet outside, but less so when the climate gets tropical. So it’s not really a surprise that by the time our film reaches its conclusion in Samoa our heroes are back in more normal outfits. But that’s OK—not every car in the film can be a McLaren 720S either.
Listing image by Universal Pictures