Fearless Fashion: from Manchester to the King’s Road
If you go for a walk on the King’s Road in the next two weeks, you will spot something rather surprising at number 340. In the clear window overlooking one of the most glamorous streets in London a young woman sits at a sewing table. In the next display, a white T-shirt will scream at you in bold, black letters that “fear is fake”.
Fearless is the title of the Autumn/Winter 2015 collection of emerging fashion designer Naomi Jackson, who founded her own Run&Fell label only five years ago, at the age of 25. Originally championing luxury menswear sustainably produced and sold online, the brand has now added a slow fashion luxury womenswear range designed especially for the pop-up store.
“After I got my fashion degree I thought that the sensible thing to do was to gain some experience in the industry, but it was the depth of the recession and I couldn’t find a job,” says Naomi when we meet her in the minimal but elegant London shop designed by Not Tom. “So, after a couple of years I just designed a few clothes and asked a lot of factories in Manchester to make them for me. ”
Was she fearless? We think so. Manchester, once famous for being the “Cotton City”, has seen a decline in manufacturing since the recession and, as Naomi herself has admitted, it wasn’t easy to get her designs manufactured there in the first place. However, she loves her city and she embodies the soul of 21st century Manchester: she’s young, trendy, bubbly and she’s also a DJ – you could’ve seen her playing at the launch party of her shop earlier this week.
Most of Naomi’s designs are political. The “Fearless” collection is a slow fashion response to all the scary news that quickly fill up our newspapers. For the next couple of weeks, every day Naomi will pin a different T-shirt to the chalk board at the centre of the shop. Each T-shirt is a limited-edition design on matters of public concern, such as the pesticides that could harm bees or the beautiful lion Cecil who was recently shot in Africa. Customers coming to the shop will be able to have the Design of the Day slightly customized and screen printed in store in approximately an hour.
Harriet, who is the seamstress working at the sewing table, will also physically demonstrate what it means to make sustainable garments using quality workmanship employed in the UK: the process, the effort and the precious results will be transparently showcased in the very window display.
Naomi’s concept was selected by Appear Here together with the Evening Standard and EE as the winner of the King’s Road shop. In the longterm, the young designer dreams of establishing her own factory back in Manchester, to train and give work to local people who struggle to find employment, just like she did a few years ago.
“At this stage Harriet and I make most of the T-shirts because it’s a very small business,” says the designer. “But we employ local printers and all our garments are made in Manchester, while we use organic fabrics from Turkey.”
The Run&Fell pop-up store will be at 340 King’s Road in Chelsea, London, until 24th August 2015.
Photography by Elisabetta Landoni