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Women's Fashion / Insiders

Faye & Erica Toogood

The Insiders is a column written by Kin Woo, presenting integral, but often hidden figures within the fashion industry

Faye and Erica Toogood
Faye and Erica Toogood Photography by Maria Eisl

Insiders celebrates Studio Toogood; two sisters who have joined forces to create clothes “fashioned by industry, not the fashion industry"

Leave it to two sisters growing up in rural England in a sartorially-obsessed family to provide a truly unique slant on the way we wear clothes today. Debuting this season is Toogood, a new clothing concept by 37-year-old furniture and interiors designer, Faye Toogood and her Savile Row trained pattern cutter sister Erica, that takes a measured stance against the ever-increasing pace of fashion. With a rousing manifesto on its website that states “fashioned by industry, not the fashion industry, workers of the world unite”, Toogood was launched at Paris Fashion Week in September with a tightly edited collection of just eight prototypes of coats, taking its inspiration from work wear with each garment named and cut according to the craft of specific tradespeople, from road sweepers and oil riggers to mechanics and chemists. Says Faye, “Celebrating trade and craftsmen and their process has always been part of my work ethic, so it was a natural approach to encapsulate that in Toogood. Erica and I started discussing the need for a uniform – workwear, but not in a pastiche or retro sense, but with a modern approach to cut and finish.” True to their manifesto, Toogood celebrates a return to craftsmanship and provenance with each coat adorned with a passport, acknowledging each of the artisans involved in the evolution of the piece. Adds Erica, “We want to be directly involved in every process. We want to produce apparel that works, and will be part of your life, not just for the next 6 months.”

"We want to produce apparel that works, and will be part of your life" — Erica Toogood

Toogood is in fact just the latest string to Faye's well expansive bow. Having parlayed a background in Fine Art to a job as stylist at World of Interiors, she made the jump into setting up Studio Toogood – a multidisciplinary practice that has seen her create a critically acclaimed furniture range to design interiors for Comme des Garçons, Hermès, and Opening Ceremony as well as creating sets for the newly revamped Kenzo. “I believe in being instinctual and spontaneous,” explains Faye of her freewheeling approach, “I start it with two words or two objects that are opposing and contrasting in some way. The project is then about exploring and combining those two opposing forces, periods in time, contrasting materials or sentiments to create a space or an object.”

Coat by Studio Toogood
Coat by Studio Toogood Photography by Maria Eisl
The decision to show only coats was rooted in practicality, says Faye, “because they form the outer shell or cocoon of a person. We all have coats that have been part of our wardrobe for years – ones that you love and are possibly falling apart, but you can’t face letting go. They’re loyal items that say a lot about you.” The seasonless, unisex styles are a reflection of the humble workwear origins – the strong, pure geometric forms of the Beekeeper works as a chic elegant opera coat but can easily be nonchalantly shrugged on a guy. Says Erica, “Worker’s uniforms have been the perfect starting point for us – the garments behave on a very sculptural basis that somehow reacts very differently to each wearer: male or female.” While Erica works on the silhouettes, Faye concentrates on the finish, elevating the materials she works with by industrial rubberizing, hand painting and screen printing. Working on the line has been a welcome opportunity for the sisters to collaborate closely with each other, “We are very honest with each other and the creative energy between us just works – almost like a pair of dancers, our partnership can function in silence.”

After showing at PFW and Milan’s Salone Del Mobile, Toogood will makes its exclusive debut next month at the newly expanded Hostem in London’s East End with a bespoke space showcasing the line. Next season will see them continue this almost scientific study of a form and shape related to tradespeople, while Faye is enjoying how it feeds back into her other work. “It’s been intriguing to watch the different sides of the interiors, gallery furniture and apparel influence each other over the last couple of years – they bounce ideas off each other, whilst swapping experiments and materials.”

Toogood Artist in Residence installation is at Hostem, 41-43 Redchurch Street from May 2014.

Text by Kin Woo

Kin Woo is writer-at-large for Dazed and Confused and columnist for AnOthermag.com.

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