Pre-fall took Frederick Anderson on a personal journey. Intent on exploring the complexities of American identity within his work, Anderson began to examine his family’s history, unearthing a series of surprises in the process. “In my family, we were always told that we were Black and Native American, so I wanted to do a tribute to the original Americans,” Anderson explained. “I had two uncles who were both very pale with long hair, and that was [attributed] to their Indigenous ancestry. Once I began researching where we all come from, I discovered that was a lie. Miscegenation laws meant Blacks and whites weren’t allowed to intermingle; it was illegal, so everyone said they were Native American to get around that fact. America is built on these kinds of lies, and once you start uncovering them, you see things in a different light.”
Eventually, Anderson would discover that he has Nigerian and Irish ancestry. Few things are more American than being descended from immigrants and having to reckon with the nation’s history of racial injustice. Still, the revelation got Anderson thinking about how he could accurately reflect an America that is less melting pot and more pressure cooker. “I had to figure out how my story could be represented visually,” he said. “I’d started with red, white, and blue but ended up working with Irish green and a series of colors that were just slightly off. We had the flag’s stripes but none of the stars; I wanted to deconstruct things and turn everything upside down.”
Experimentation led Anderson toward a mélange he dubbed Immigrant Story. A kinetic mix of textures, patterns, and color, the lineup thrums with energy, even when the pieces skew subdued. At heart, Anderson is a classicist, so even when he’s delivering short shorts and completely transparent dresses, the clothes maintain a level of restraint. This allows him to incorporate revealing elements—a mesh dress, a scarlet jumpsuit with a cutout that crosses the entire chest—without seeming outré or vulgar. Anderson’s woman isn’t looking for attention, but she’s sure to get it in his 3-D crochet crop tops and lace blouses.
Such self-possessed sexiness is possible due to the level of detail Anderson puts into each piece. Doubling down on embellishment and loading up each look with a wealth of textural techniques elevates even the simplest garment. Thanks to ribbon woven into its tweed, a navy-and-white-striped blazer avoided all seersucker associations. Likewise, what could have been a standard maxi coat was elevated with the addition of fringed edges along its hem.
All the details were beautiful, but the best display of Anderson’s meticulousness might be in the lining of each garment. A fan of structure, he sought to maintain a tailored look throughout while acknowledging the current obsession with ease. Anderson’s outlook has seen his brand expand globally in the past year, but his affinity for constant change and democratized style feels distinctly American. “You have to make clothes that are relevant for the way women live now,” he says. “We’re not going back to structure [but] you don’t throw away the past; you take those techniques and the lessons you’ve learned, then move forward.”
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