We tend to start our collections the same way we would do an art/illustration project. We were complete strangers to how the fashion world worked, so that way seemed natural, and I suppose we didn't know any different. We would be interested to see how other studios work in comparison! Research is the start point always, digging around in books and badly made web pages. It’s a good excuse for us to spend time reading and looking, and to go and hang out in the British Library.
Usually, we start by finding an area of folklore we want to explore, whether there is a graphic element we find interesting or some narrative we want to follow. We try and make sure the graphics and the cut and sew stuff have some kind of dialogue with each other. Graphics make it easy to present things we've found or that we're interested in, but these are a little harder to convey with the cut and sew stuff. Sometimes they can end up being based on a character that the collection is about.
For SS18 we kind of focused on this researcher/collector character, so when we designed the Jacket they would wear we were thinking, 'right this person is going to be wondering around the woods collecting specimens, they're going to need big pockets to store everything. Its spring so it’s sunny out and this person is going to need a brimmed hat so they can concentrate on finding things.' Sort of designing some, almost practical, outfit for this fictional character to wear.
For the graphics stuff we used to focus pretty heavily on drawing everything ourselves, we were interested in illustration so initially, it felt like the right outcome. But as we got more into digging around for these weird customs and objects we felt less like we wanted to complicate how we presented them, so drawing isn't always a necessary tool.
As we've gone on our interest in folklore has also become an exploration of British identity. Britain is going through a bit of a weird time at the moment, there are loads of negative connotations surrounding the idea of Britishness. So part of what we're trying to do is excavate all these positive things about British culture that people might not know about, and find a way of presenting them in a contemporary context.