With collaboration at it's core, the new conceptual project Bonnie Fechter does away with fashion protocol. It rids itself of restrictive labels such as genders and seasons and instead revolves around the results of creative partnerships. Each collection produced reflects a rare quality of thoughtfulness that emerges from the contrast and fusion of ideas and aesthetics.
In its first collection, Bonnie Fechter pairs with Studio C&C, a south London art and design studio to present True Grafters, a capsule collection of unisex basics. Studio C&C brings its background in graphics to the table while the designers at Bonnie Fechter focus on producing locally sourced, timeless looks, unsusceptible to the short lifespan of trends.
True Grafters merges these separate entities seamlessly. The result is a collection of oversized, boxy shapes with meticulously executed details that place a subtle emphasis on craft. Contrasting seams, raw edges, grainy textures, and simple graphics elevate the pieces and help accomplish the designers' goals of opposing fast-fashion.
Bonnie Fechter reimagines the social framework of fashion and the definition of a designer. In doing so, they create a series of collectable pieces. After a successful first collaboration, we got together with the founders to hear more about their backgrounds, their partnership with Studio C&C and all else that's to come for the promising young company.
Sarah and Rosie
Type of brand
We're a unisex and season-less brand that believes in slow fashion and collaboration.
Where can we find you:
At our studio in south London, riding around town on our bikes, or eating dumplings at Silk Road.
Who is the ideal Bonnie Fechter customer?
Anyone fun and adventurous.
Why is being a unisex brand important to you?
We both wear men's clothing as much as women's, so we wanted to draw on our similarities rather than our differences. People should be able to wear anything they want to without feeling limited. Bonnie Fechter offers clothing without the restrictions of a label.
Breaking away from the practices of fast fashion, you produce everything within the UK. Can you explain where your materials come from and where the different parts of the design process happen?
We do everything we can out of our London studio, from the design process to fabric sourcing, cutting and sampling. Anything that we can't do here we find somewhere we can as locally as possible.
Why was creating a locally sourced and designed label important to you?
Taking back responsibility for the clothes we make was really important to us. We wanted to be able to work with people face to face rather than always over the phone or email. It allows you to be more creative and free in the way you work. We follow each piece from start to finish so we know the footprint it leaves behind, and we get to know the people that we work with very well. Clothing is so personal and we wanted to make the process that way too.
What challenges do you face with this decision?
It's hard to ignore the added costs of keeping things local, especially production. However, one of the biggest difficulties has been trying to slow things down. In an industry that is so fast paced, setting up meetings face to face is often harder than sending an email as everyone is so busy.
Why did you decide not to release new collections according to season?
We wanted to be free to work with people who aren't dictated by the seasonal calendar, therefore choosing to work by project. There are now so many seasons to buy into that people think this marks the longevity of a piece of clothing. Things shouldn't go out of fashion as quickly as you are made to believe they do; fashion should be an individual's opinion.
If not by season, how do you plan on releasing the following collections? How often do you expect for new items to come out?
We will aim to work on two projects a year, but it could be more or less depending on who we find to work with and the opportunities that are out there. We just started working on our next project with a London based fine artist that is going to offer something completely different to what we've done before. Alongside the collaborations there will always be a core offering of products. There will be essential pieces to rely on, but that we will develop and add to over time.
How did growing up in rural Scotland affect your design practices?
We are both country people at heart and need to be reacquainted with nature every now and then to keep a clear mind. Growing up on a farm you are not overpowered with constant imagery the way you are in a city. It allows you to form more of your own opinions of what you think is beautiful - clothing or not.
How does it continue to influence your work?
The landscape and slower pace of life are constant sources of inspiration. It's so important to remain true to your own opinion. You have to have a voice in what you do, otherwise you will get lost in a world that is already saturated.
In three words, describe your first collection.
Collaborative, relaxed and tactile.
What is the meaning behind the title of your first collection, True Grafters?
It's a recognition of all the people we know who work so hard to be able to do what they want to do. You can't get anywhere far without grafting.
Where did you find inspiration?
True Grafters was inspired by the landscape we grew up on in Scotland and the people we spend our days with in London. The contrast of lifestyles offered something inspiring.
You collaborated with Studio Calm & Collected. How did this collaboration come to being?
They are close friends and have been so supportive of Bonnie Fechter from the beginning. We always wanted to work on a project together, even before launching the brand, so it made sense to start out with them.
Why Studio C&C?
They focus on collaboration as a studio and always come up with new solutions and original responses to the briefs they work on. They had never worked with fabric before so that in itself was a great starting point. The graphics that they created went through so many processes before they hit the cloth you have no idea! Their attention to detail is amazing.
Do you have any ideas for your next collaboration?
We're already working on our next collab with a great London based fine artist and muse. It's an exciting mix and a completely new starting point.
How do you plan on unifying different collaborations under one label?
The defining features of the brand will always remain the same, but, as with any label, each collection will come alive in different ways. The artist in a sense dictates the change of the aesthetic - just as a season would.
What advice do you have for other young designers?
Don't be afraid to bend the rules or break tradition… Go with your gut and don't be swayed by other people's opinions if it is not true to your own.