Fashion Crush: Teatum Jones
All Images: Teatum Jones
The pandemic was brutal for the UK fashion industry, but one brand already had the winning formula. We speak to Teatum Jones about people and positive impact fashion.
When it comes to positive impact and sustainable actions, Teatum Jones have been putting their money where their mouth is since their inception in 2011. A stalwart of London Fashion Week, Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones have been silently but consistently working towards a more conscious fashion future. Marking the launch of ReLove Part 2, the pair are keen to celebrate the UK fashion scenes importance in amplifying the conversation around consumption and waste. We were lucky to speak to one half of the duo and find out how people centred design isn’t just good for us, it’s also good for the planet.
Young British Designers
“As a young designer you had to jump on the moving train,” Rob Jones told us via a Zoom chat. Together with his partner Catherine Teatum (left), they felt the pressure of being a Young British Brand. “We were trying to compete with other British brands like Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. Four or five years in, we realised we weren’t happy with what we were doing.” Teatum Jones could have become another casualty of the fast paced fashion industry, but instead they chose to change tracks.
The brand has always centred human stories when it comes to their designs and processes. So in 2017 they were excited to speak to Paralympian Natasha Baker with a view to creating a collection inspired by her life and career as a successful Equestrian. However by the time they had collected a story, it was already time for the collection to be shown at London Fashion Week and then it was on to the next season. “We wanted to extend our research and concepts for a whole year so we could be authentic to the themes,” Rob recalls. This realisation triggered a slow down in operations, and suddenly four collections a year became two.
Dressing Emma Watson
After a successful collaboration with sustainable style icon and women’s advocate Emma Watson, they entered an exciting new faze of Teatum Jones. The actor approached them to help create her wardrobe for the G7 summit in 2019. Emma famously wore a blue suit by the label, made from waste wool, with a quote embroidered on the back of the jacket. The quote was later used in her speech to the G7 summit. Subsequently, the design won an award from Eco Age. Rob and Catherine realised that many of their core principles meant they were inherently sustainable, they just had never communicated this before.
The accolade boosted their confidence that their methods were worth talking about. As a result, this season, they are proud to launch Part 2 of their ReLove initiative. “ReLove was us pushing the positive impact to the fore of what we are doing,” Rob confirms. Instead of merely creating seasonal collections, the brand now works purposefully toward positive impact both with regards to production and to people.
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Working With Liberty London Fabric
Having long been stocked at Liberty London, the label began speaking to the Mayfair retailer about a collaboration. But they were clear that it had to be “something much more meaningful than just using their prints. Instead we used damaged and end of line stock in a continuation of ReLove Part 1.” Teatum Jones took previously unusable Liberty print fabric, hand painted it, overdyed it and patchworked it with their own archival fabric. The result is a passionate and thoughtful collection that feels quintessentially Teatum Jones.
However the brand didn’t stop here. Continuing their partnership with Mary’s Living and Giving Shops, they have also incorporated vintage denim into the collection. As part of the ‘Zero Waste’ capsule collection. The unsold denim stock has been reloved and reimagined into bold and beautiful products for a capsule collection.
Rewear, Repair, ReLove
Mary Portas, founder of Mary’s Living and Giving (as part of Save The Children) said of the partnership “Teatum Jones are already living and breathing my ‘kindness economy’ philosophy.’ She continued, “as we leave lockdown and continue to move into a new, more responsible, era for fashion and retail, this really is the perfect example of a partnership for good which allows people to shop in an aspirational but sustainable and ethical way.”
ReLove isn’t a one off. It’s part of a greater effort by Teatum Jones to slow right down and use what already exists. Rob explains, “when we started (ReLove), the pandemic had stopped the fashion industry and suddenly Pre Collections were cancelled. Paris Fashion Week was cancelled, buyers weren’t coming and we were all panicking. (Brands) were told to make their collections smaller by merging Main and Pre collections together. We were urged to think about key pieces, duplicate these and pull back on everything else. At Teatum Jones, we had already done all of this.” Unknowingly, the label had future proofed itself long ago thanks to it’s aversion to the fast paced nature of the industry.
A few years ago they began offering pre ordering and ‘made to order’ to select customers. Today, they operate with this as their main method of production. “Reeling off lots of stuff to just move on to the new didn’t feel right to us,” Rob said. “People contacted us looking for specific things so it came from a practical place. Genuine customers that liked us were happy to wait for their product.” Now the brand concentrates on reimagining it’s key pieces each season. Not only through fabric and texture, like the popular Charlotte and Bella dresses in the ReLove collection, but through customer feedback too.
“Never Throw Away Good Design.”
“We don’t repeat, we tweak. We would never throw away good design” Rob tells us. As customers wear and live in their clothes, so Teatum Jones reflects their feedback in ‘tweaks’. Next season a dress may be longer, or a sleeve might be smaller so as to be more practical. The pair are always keen to speak with customers and the people who sell their clothes. “We do a lot of staff training ourselves so we know what people say when they try our clothes on.”
Have Teatum Jones unknowing stumbled upon the future of fashion? We believe so. They were proved correct during the panic of lockdown, and have graceful emerged from the pandemic not only intact, but with a clear plan for the future. For now, their latest offering in ReLove is only a taster of things to come. Who can predict what an agile and creative brand like Teatum Jones will be doing in 5 years time, or what the fashion industry will look like in general? But if we were taking bets, we’d put our money on these guys.
By Lucy Kebbell
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