Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman on label launch

When Guy Berryman turned 40 three years ago, he began to contemplate his life and his accomplishments.

“It’s an arbitrary number but it’s a point of reflection for a lot of people where you review everything you’ve done in life and think about what lies ahead. Let’s face it, it’s mid -way,” the Coldplay bassist says on Zoom from a hotel room in London.

As a member of one of the hottest bands for more than two decades, he’s spent nearly half his life touring the world on successful tours, collecting seven Grammy Awards and selling over $100 million. of albums in the world along the way.

“It was a good time to look at everything I had done and use that as the basis for everything I do in the future.”

After years of subscribing to image creation, stage productions and stylistic research, the path to his next chapter led him to fashion. Enter Applied Art Forms: Berryman’s technical clothing brand for men was quietly launched in October 2020. Drawing inspiration from utilitarian, work and military clothing, the line recontextualizes classic menswear pieces with modern silhouettes, high craftsmanship and fine fabrics.

Unlike other celebrity brands, Applied Art Forms (or A/A/F as it’s stylized) is understated and not immediately identifiable to its august founder. Simple tees in neutral tones, smart cotton grandad collar shirts and casual hoodies sit alongside interpretations of classic deck jackets and water repellent combat jackets. (Prices range from €35 for socks, €80 for beanies and €100 for a t-shirt to €2490 for the brand’s signature Modular Parka: Full System.)

Unlike many other celebrities, Berryman’s background is adjacent to product design. “Before Coldplay, there was mechanical engineering and architecture,” he says. He refers to his late teens and early twenties when he briefly studied engineering at University College London, where he would meet his future bandmates and pursue a short stint in architecture. (Her father, Rupert, is a former chartered engineer.) Berryman is as obsessed with buildings and cars as he is with fashion and furniture. Plus, he’s been collecting vinyl records, vintage guitars, and synthesizers since he was a teenager in the ’90s. “When eBay hit the scene, it was like heaven to me,” he says.

As an avid collector of exotic mid-century Italian sports cars, Berryman lends his hand to niche automotive magazine The Road Rat as creative director. His favorite – although not the most expensive or valuable in his collection, which includes a Bizzarrini Strada and a Lamborghini Miura P400 – is the Jaguar E-Type.

While Coldplay’s tours have taken him to Dublin and Belfast, Berryman hopes to travel to Ireland soon.

If Berryman is spotted on a bar stool in rural Ireland, you might be wowed by his alluring looks, his unmistakable Scottish accent or his impeccable style – the Kirkcaldy native has an impressive collection of vintage clothes like Helmut Lang, Katherine Hamnett, Massimo Osti of CP Company and Stone Island, and watches (during our call, he briefly shows off his 1970s Rolex Sea-Dweller).

“I’m not just a face for the brand, I’m not just the guy who faces the money. This was created by me specifically to be very practical in the design process.”

Fashion makes Berryman’s heart sing, from his original 1950s Royal Air Force parka to the A/A/F version, the AM2-1 modular parka that can be configured as a bespoke officer-style coat or a more traditional parka, with interchangeable hood. , adjustable collars and length. Like the original, the parka is made from the same water-repellent cotton used in Air Force pilot uniforms during WWII.

“When we launched the brand, I knew the world didn’t need another mid-tier brand. There’s a lot of competition out there, and things never feel so special. I wanted to elevate in everything we do from the best possible fabrics and extremely intricate construction,” he says.

The difficulty of selling through an online store and communicating through digital channels is that people can’t look, feel and touch fabrics, they can’t see the quality of construction details, and they can’t try on things. .

This prompted Berryman to hold a week-long showcase at the Paul Stolper Gallery in London where he conducted a series of talks, and the public were able to shop from the line.

(“We decided to do this in a gallery not because we want to display the clothes as works of art, but because Paul is an old friend of mine,” laughs Berryman.) The participation produced some interesting results. : of course, there were the prerequisite fans who wanted autographs and photos, and although many discovered the brand through the famous founder, the majority of visitors connected with the clothes, some of them picking up a few coins for the duration of the event.

“It was rewarding to meet everyone in person,” he says.

“I knew the world didn’t need another mid-tier brand.”

(In 2022, he wants to continue building a community around the label which may include a club night: “It’s not even about selling clothes to just anybody, we want people to have a good time.” ) “I’m not just a face for the brand, I’m not just the guy who faces the money. This was created by me specifically to be very practical in the design process,” he says.

He visits the Amsterdam workshop as much as his schedule allows, where he can be found on all fours cutting fabrics and making fittings. Surrounded by a great team, the mission, he says, is “to do things that I want to wear myself”. Berryman insists on doing things differently. Applied Art Forms will not follow fashion’s seasonal calendar which sees releases two to four times a year. For him, the brand is an ever-evolving collection of essential pieces with occasional updates and new additions.

Although fashion consumes a lot of Berryman’s time, he has no plans to give up music anytime soon.

“We always identify with the fact that the four of us, as individual members of a group, are creating something greater than the sum of our parts, but we are quite talented in our individual ways.

“When we work together, we create something that rises above that kind of individualism. The notion of collaboration and the strength of collaboration is something I borrowed from Coldplay and fashion.

Berryman notes that his bandmates admire his latest adventure. “I think they’re proud of the accomplishments I’ve made in this area and are really supportive of the project,” he says. He notices that Chris Martin, the lead guitarist, loves the cargo pants while Johnny Buckland is the proud owner of the modular parka.

Meanwhile, Will Champion could dress in Applied Art Forms for one of the upcoming live shows. “We’re so excited to start touring again,” he says. Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams Tour concluded in 2017.

Simple tees in neutral tones, smart cotton shirts with grandad collars and casual hoodies sit alongside interpretations of classic deck jackets and water-repellent combat jackets.
Simple tees in neutral tones, smart cotton shirts with grandad collars and casual hoodies sit alongside interpretations of classic deck jackets and water-repellent combat jackets.

As the pandemic brought live events to a halt, Coldplay adjusted their working practices to complete Music of the Spheres, their ninth studio album. The government-imposed lockdown meant Berryman was spending time at his 19th century mansion in the Cotswolds – where he lives with his fiancée, Dutch model Keshia Gerrits and their two children Lucien and Bea, and daughter Nico – working at A /A/F and put the finishing touches on an album that is up for a Grammy later this month.

The accompanying world tour, with 53 dates, will see the tireless band visit Europe, North and South America in 2022.

We missed playing in front of people, the energy of the crowd – that’s always been our driving force as musicians.

Berryman is quick to count his blessings: “We were in a very lucky position to be in such an established position that if our tour was delayed for a year or two, it wouldn’t make a big difference to us. What I was particularly worried about was the newer and more promising artists who were just starting their careers, releasing albums, and they had to go on tour to promote the records, etc. I think it hit them harder than us. “Of course, all venues, cultural institutions, have all suffered from the loss of the entertainment industry. I’m glad to see him slowly getting back on his feet.

Between preparations for another colossal world tour of sold-out shows, Berryman is already preparing the next chapter for A/A/F, swapping the stage for the showroom when his schedule allows and pursuing his passion for car restoration and road trips across Europe, stopping to visit friends along the way.

“If you’re passionate about something, you’ll always find a way to make it work. Life is busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Elizabeth J. Harless