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Meet Timothy Gibbons, the Irish Designer Behind These Cult-Favorite Corset Hoodies

In the early months of the pandemic, Timothy Gibbons was toying around with a shamrock-green Irish rugby shirt he’d found in a thrift store when inspiration struck. He pulled out his cutting scissors and sliced it in half horizontally; next, he put his Central Saint Martins degree to work, crafting a meticulously constructed quilted corset in a matching shade. He pieced the two together, and behold! Gibbons had created his very own fashion Frankenstein’s monster: a playful synthesis of sportswear and corsetry. “I like to keep my hands busy to stop me from going mad, and it just sort of happened,” he laughs.

It was a little later, however, that Gibbons stumbled upon the formula that would become a hit. Last summer, between stints assisting costume designers for film and TV in London, he spent an extended period of time in New York working in the studios of both Carly Mark of Puppets and Puppets and Kim Nguyen of Nguyen Inc. While observing the latter’s alchemical ability to upcycle trash into fashion treasure, he was inspired to revisit this hybridizing technique. “I was absolutely broke, living on friends’ sofas, and I saw the pieces Kim was making with T-shirts from Canal Street,” he remembers. “I bought this thrifted sun-bleached hoodie and started fusing them with corsets, and a bunch of friends wanted to buy them instantly. They just kind of took off.”

A few Instagram posts later, and word had spread: his one-of-a-kind, highly labor-intensive pieces were stocked by Café Forgot, and a throng of downtown It-girls quickly slid into his DMs asking to acquire their own. From there, the momentum continued. He recently created a custom “Utopia” corset hoodie for Travis Scott, while musicians from Charli XCX to Kim Petras to Courtney Love bought pieces last year after discovering him online. “When a boxer steps out of the ring and they get given that satin robe—I hope that’s what these are like for the pop girlies,” he says. “It’s a dream come true to have people I admire so much wearing them, and I don’t take it for granted. I’m very grateful to literally everyone who’s bought one, and has allowed me to spend this time supported by that financially to keep making them.”

As for why Gibbons believes the corset hoodie formula has attracted such fervent interest, he has a few theories. “I think it could be a post-pandemic thing, where people are looking for something that is semi-sophisticated and elegant, but also comfortable,” he says. “Although I wasn’t thinking about that consciously when I first started making them, of course—I just thought it would be fun.” He’s also quick to note he isn’t the only one to have come up with the idea: there were corset hoodies in Casey Cadwallader of Mugler’s collaboration with H&M, and designers such as Weslah have also experimented with the shape.

For his latest drop of hoodies, available today—and accompanied by a lookbook with The Face’s America Korban on styling duties—Gibbons decided to pay a more pointed homage to the two cities that have inspired him most: London and New York. (According to his godmother, he told her he wanted to move to both cities when he was a five-year-old growing up in Belfast.) “I haven’t lived in New York half as long as I’ve lived in London, but the effect that each of those cities has had on me is on kind of equal footing,” he says, noting that he deliberately went for a track jacket style and a Gothic font for the London pieces as a nod to its medieval history, while for the New York pieces, he channeled more of a varsity vibe. “I feel like both those cities have welcomed me into their arms.”

Next on the agenda for Gibbons will be expanding his offering, and trying his hand at applying similar techniques to track pants, sweaters, and skirts. “But I still don’t really see myself fully as a fashion person, or fully as a costume person—I think I’ve always wanted to exist in the middle of something, and that maybe comes through in my work, in that it’s a bit all over the place,” he says, before laughing again. “But I do get self-conscious talking about it, because at the end of the day? It’s just a hoodie.”

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