Colourway first came to our attention last year with their debut collection ‘First Light’. I’d never heard of them until I saw Greg talking about them on Fuckin Yeh, and was keen to know more. Generally you can set your trend watching clock to brands Greg finds and speaks about, and it seems Colourway is no different.
Since that blog post last year I kinda forgot all about them, but while we were putting Issue 7 together I was contacted by Christian, the brands founder, with some details on what they were working on and it seemed the perfect point to see what they were up to and shine a light on this genuinely brilliant UK brand.
For anyone unfamiliar can you tell us about Colourway, your role there and how long it’s been about?
Colourway is a casual menswear brand focusing on the use of quality fabrics and minimal detailing. I am a self-trained textile printer with no formal training in fashion, but a keen eye for detail and a creative urge to express myself through clothing. At present, Colourway is a solo venture and so I am heavily involved in every aspect of putting everything together.
I introduced my debut collection, First Light, just over 12 months ago. Within this time I have been fortunate to stock Colourway in some of my favourite stores throughout the world including Colette, Donuts, and most recently Ships Ltd in Tokyo.
This collection is entitled ‘Clear North’, can you explain the rationale behind this and how it ties into the brand?
I have spent the past 3 or so years visiting a number of factories and fabric suppliers throughout the UK and Europe. The producers I have found the greatest affinity with are situated North of where I am based.
I’ve had no desire to create a theme as such for any of my collections, however the rationale behind the title Clear North is the result of my last journey to Scotland. As I approached my destination the roads became more and more empty, I was surrounded by vast landscapes and a sense of total solitude. I guess if anything, Clear North is effectively a sentiment to that journey and to the people that have contributed to making it all possible to this point.
There are an abundance of new brands in the UK and some have outlasted others, where does Colourway fit into this and what does it offer the customer that others don’t?
I think you’re right; there is an abundance of creativity within so many popular cultures and industries alike. As a screen printer I have had first hand experience of working with a number of UK start ups and it’s really inspiring to see a few of these brands expand and develop organically over time. I guess staying true to your game and having the ability to overcome the many hurdles you will inevitably encounter during the process of developing a brand is key to staying afloat in this industry.
With regards to Colourway I’m by no means trying to develop a niche in the market, however, I work closely with my factories – make regular visits and have built relationships with the people that make my clothes. Therefore I feel that when I talk about the composition or construction of each piece of clothing I have every confidence in stating that I have developed something that will stand the test of time. Although I do not implement it as a sales tool on my website, each piece I produce is genuinely limited to a short production run.
Ultimately I just want to carry out my vision, demonstrate my genuine passion to make my ideas a reality and over time develop a clear identity that people can relate to.
Where do you see Colourway fitting in the UK market?
I know exactly where I would like to fit in, but I am happy just settling in at the moment and developing clothes I like to wear. I am pretty hopeless when it comes to social media so I feel privileged to be asked to answer some questions about what I’m doing. I have no desire to force anything on anyone and so I hope things like this will enable people to discover Colourway for themselves.
I’m really interested in your use of knitwear, not many people are doing it well – has it been difficult to get sorted, and what makes yours special?
The lambswool pullover was my first venture in to knitwear and I am really happy with the results. It was a very steep learning curve and I am really grateful that I had the opportunity to work with such an experienced and dedicated team of knitwear specialists. It’s very humbling to work with people who have dedicated their lives to one fraction of an industry. I was extremely green to the whole process and no matter how many questions or visits I made I was always treated with the utmost respect and was left feeling 100% confident in their execution.
Although there were minor adjustments made to each piece, it took four samples to get the finish I envisioned. Again, the whole process was great to be a part of and I look forward to round two!
The pullover features a two colour striped rib, dropped shoulders and regular fit. Constructed in Scotland from 100% lambswool sourced from Geelong, Australia – synonymous with the worlds finest yarns.
In a similar vein, what are the main difficulties associated with starting your own brand?
I guess it really depends what you are looking to develop and achieve. I have certainly experienced my fair share of bad luck, which is probably the outcome of having no formal training and in some instances the result of rushing and being too impatient for an outcome. My advise to others would be to develop a business plan and make friends with time. Research and read up on brands you aspire to – people that understand the industry tend to be very open-minded and share good advice. Although, leading towards the more couture aspect of fashion, I picked up a book a few years back whilst in Paris, ‘Blue is the new black’ – a guide to developing and producing a fashion collection, which certainly has some useful chapters for someone in my position and a great guide for anyone interested in starting a brand.
In the design process, how is the fit of the garment approached? Is Colourway employing silhouettes all of it’s own?
My intention has always been to make clothes that I am truly satisfied with, nothing forced or rushed, with the idea that every piece can develop its own characteristics over time. I have two pattern cutters, both specialists in their own field. I build on basic silhouettes, which are borrowed from endless research and I then introduce my own features or detailing to create points of difference. My aim is to develop a timeless aesthetic that runs fluently throughout every garment I present.
What advice would you give someone looking to start a similar venture?
I threw myself in at the deep end and have certainly learnt some lessons the hard way! You need to dedicate a lot of time and effort to gain the results you want. Never be afraid to ask questions. I feel happy with everything I have put out to date due to me taking this approach. I believe that working on my own has allowed me to take one step at a time and in turn, I have avoided over-stretching myself and getting frustrated with the process. I think you have to be realistic, love what you do and do what you love – avoid submitting to sales or market needs and trends. Don’t settle for the first factory you discover, get a thorough understanding of their output, who they have worked with and ultimately make sure that they in turn understand what you are trying to achieve. Both travel and meeting people within the industry is absolutely essential, go to tradeshows, visit factories and build sound relationships with the people you want to include in every aspect of the process.
Is there anything in the Menswear market at the moment that you feel is played out?
Yes, certainly. Trends come and go, I believe that this is the natural cycle and fundamental essence of fashion. I’m sure that one way or another we all fall short at some stage.
I don’t know if you are familiar with Saturdays Magazine, but in their latest issue there is an interview with Renzo Rosso, President of OTB (the holding agency for Maison Martin Margiela and many other large brands) who was asked a similar question. I’d like to live by his sentiments “My philosophy is to see how things can be done differently from their existing ways. I think it is super rare as a businessperson that you see this perspective, and because of that, fashion tends to repeat itself. In my opinion, fashion is incredible because it changes. It changes every six months!”
I’m interested in the double-gauze fabric applied to the 5-panel hats, can you tell us more about that and how it works?
Double gauze is a soft hand, light weight cotton constructed with a leno weave which creates a loose yet robust finish. The loose weave allows for a breathable light weight fabric ideal for the summer months.
The fabric was developed by a Japanese duo and available in three colourways all produced in limited quantities. It took four outlets, 3 in the states and 1 in europe to get the amount I needed to produce the hats. When all the fabric arrived it was shipped out to my manufacturer in the USA.
Every hat is unique due to the orientation of the original print combined with the cutting of each piece prior to construction. This made for a complete deconstruction of the original print.
How did you hook up with Jamie Hudson, and what is it about Desktop and his work that speak to you and the brand?
Based on my previous remarks regarding social media, ironically I began a conversation with Jamie through Instagram about a series of drawings he’d posted. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t realise at the time that he was one half of Desktop. I am very visual and I really liked how Jamie presented his work and his overall aesthetic was clean and intriguing. After a few emails back and forth Jamie explained that “Usurp” was an unfinished project. I really liked the story surrounding Jamie’s idea and so we presented his work across three t-shirts and an 8 page zine. Putting my initial ignorance aside, I am really fond of Desktop. Both Jamie and Kyle have been a delight to work with and I look forward to seeing the project unfold.
Are you planing anything else with Jamie and Kyle?
I think the artist series is a great way of connecting with likeminded people and i’ve really enjoyed working with both Jamie and Kyle. There has been talk of Desktop curating their own photoshoot of Jamie’s t-shirts in the Usurp series. Besides this I’d happily work with them again, Colourway related or not.
Whats next for the brand as a whole?
For the time being I’d like to retract from working towards collections and develop outfits and individual pieces on a more regular basis. I figure by doing so, within the next couple of years I will have a number of core pieces to develop a more seasonal collection. I am currently working on a mid-summer drop alongside more shirting and an early autumn piece of outerwear. I’d really like to find a stylist and photographer to work with in the future. At the top of my list I would like to find a store in London, continue my never-ending search for the perfect fabric and find more time to travel.