The label’s founders, print virtuosos Mark Eley and Wakako Kishimoto, tell Ian Wright about their return to LFW
Your brand is 20 this year - how have you seen it change over the years?
Not that much, honestly - we are much wiser but the core values that we brought to the table at the beginning are very much the same. We love fabric, we love craftsmanship, we love our print room, we love colour, we love pattern and we love product. The best part is that we have made many friends globally who have come through our studio or established relationships because of the work that we do.
How was your London Fashion Week?
Very positive. We’ve not participated on LFW schedule for four seasons, just launching the collections in our Paris gallery and the showroom in Tokyo - so to be active in our hometown
was good. Not that Living with Patterns [an exhibition of their work at the Aram Gallery] was an anniversary exhibition - it was a statement of creative intent in our 20th year.
You’re known for loving a collaboration - what makes them succeed?
It must be the way we can work together very harmoniously and from this everyday event it possibly makes our relationships with far and wide partners work. We have been very lucky. Most of the collaborations have been by people approaching us or just working naturally with friends.
How did the Clarks collaboration come about?
We had a cold call from Philippa Bogle at Clarks to say it was interested in using print and we were the go-to company. We discussed the opportunity, about the exhibition and LFW, and went for it - it’s a great range of three styles, two prints in two colourways. In the exhibition we made an animatronics machine walk the shoes on display over a two-month period to show Clarks’ quality, comfort and durability.
We hear you’re returning to the LFW catwalk next season - why now?
We think our company can strive forward with our design and collaborative credentials in place and, to add to the flavour, put the collection back on girls and ask them to walk for us again and use LFW as our stage. London is where we’ve always shown.
What’s the best thing about working with your other half?
ME It’s that we have two pairs of hands, twice as much time as any individual, two very differing attitudes and opinions and the same desire to do our best. WK You don’t have to explain things during the day and you can relax at home rather than talking about work.
And the worst?
WK In stressful situations at work you can carry certain untoward feelings, which wouldn’t happen if you worked separately.
ME Nothing really. Well, maybe the amount of unopened bags of clothes that are piling up in our home from Wakako’s personal orders of all the past collections.