What is a "Desire Path?"

Autumn / Winter 2023, “Desire Paths.”

When researching & designing collections there are two main approaches I take; the literal approach & the metaphorical approach.  The literal approach is simple in theory and goes down the path of finding an idea, researching that topic, relating this topic to colour & material, etc.  The metaphorical approach is more “30,000” feet up thinking, often relating to current situations & conversations in the studio.  In my experience, a collection I’m happy with is always a blend of these two lines of thinking.  The hardest part is naming the collection.  Naming a collection is completely unnecessary, we could just call it Spring / Summer 20xx and be done with it, but that’s not very fun to think back on.  I like to use the names to be able to refer back to where things were at the time.  If I think of AW20, I’ll picture wool coats, some knits, first runway show in Paris etc.  If I think of “If A Tree Falls,” I immediately feel the sensation of “is anyone going to come to this show?  Are we being insane?”


So what is a “Desire Path?”

A desire path (in its literal sense) is the proper name for that little indented path in the dirt/grass you see on the corner, formed by people taking the shortcut & not walking to the very end of the sidewalk before turning the corner.  They are formed for a number of reasons like an obvious shortcut, avoiding obstacles on the main path (think of a fallen tree you walk around) or taking the less steep path up or down a hill.  In simple terms, a desire path is a shortcut / the smoothest way from point A to point B. 

Photo: Alan Stanton Photo: Andy Roberts

In the digital age of today, desire paths also come in the form of UI design & understanding what users actually want.  Twitter didn’t have hashtags or @ signs originally, this was adopted after a long period of time where the community was doing it themselves before it became official.  After fielding email questions for a year about each garment's measurements, we built out a size chart system integrated into the site so people didn’t have to ask.

As an artist, designer, photographer, any creative profession really, 2023 offers a very flexible landscape if you are willing to try taking the road less travelled.  Uploading music to Spotify yourself instead of taking a record deal, in this thinking at least, is a desire path.  The reassuring thing is (in both its literal & metaphorical sense) a desire path is self-reinforcing & will become more permanent as more people take this path.

The overall sentiment in the studio right now is just figuring out what’s next & experimenting with new methods to every part of the process.  Do we have to follow xyz industry standard simply because it is industry standard?  Or are there new ways of doing things that most importantly, keep it fun & exciting to spend 16 hours a day working on.

The thought of desire paths right now doesn’t find its way much into the garment design itself, aside from a few literal graphics.  It stays pretty rooted in the shared thought process right now of myself & friends.  Things are shifting, we’re exploring new ways of working and delivering ideas and products in better ways.  Naming this collection after the thought is important to me to timestamp where we are and have something to look back on.


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