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As the brand prepares for its womenswear debut, Drapers gets a first look at its autumn 12 range.

 Quite often the term ‘buyers’ brand’ is bandied around the industry in reference to a label that has a full order book but doesn’t always fulfil its potential when it comes to sell-through. Folk isn’t one of those brands. Loved by buyers but also boasting a dedicated customer base for its menswear range, it excels on both counts. And now it hopes the same will go for its womenswear.

On hearing that for autumn 12 the brand would debut its first womenswear collection, Drapers couldn’t wait to see what the Folk woman would look like, and sat down with founder Cathal McAteer and designer Elbe Lealman.

“We’re looking forward to people being surprised by the collection,” says Lealman. “We felt it was important we wouldn’t just scale down the men’s collection. We wanted the clothes to fit a woman’s shape, and if anything came too easy in the design process we set it aside. The clothes have a different weight and handle to the men’s line.”

Categories for autumn 12 cross knitwear, shirting, outerwear, dresses and trousers. A knitted reversible bomber, double-breasted overcoat and cocoon coat particularly caught Drapers’ attention and sit nicely beside silk trousers, knitted chunky cardigans and a grandad-style shirt. The palette uses rich autumnal shades of red and navy with highlights of orange and painterly details for an artisanal look.

“We use a lot of Japanese fabrics and looms to bring out the texture,” says Lealman. Polka dots are a feature throughout the collection and, as expected, the signature Folk detailing, a strong characteristic of the men’s offer, is carried across into womenswear, including a T-shirt with removable necklace, a dress with removable leather cuffs and brass tips that decorate the end of the functional drawstring.

In terms of price, the women’s range will sit alongside Acne and APC (£25 to £203), but the style is sure to appeal to buyers of brands such as Vanessa Bruno and Isabel Marant. With a proven track record for quality and desirability, stores are sure to be inundating the brand with enquiries, but Folk is starting sensibly.

“We’ll start with people we know and love who already have a relationship with us,” says McAteer. “We’ve spoken to Liberty and [London lifestyle indie] Merchant Archive, who are receptive to seeing the collection. We want to sell to about 15 stores and then get on with the next collection to expand, and have booked all our production in advance so we can ensure delivery on time.”

Folk has four London stores, a store in Amsterdam and one in Munich. Of the London stores, one is dedicated to womenswear and stocks brands Won Hundred, Acne and Humanoid alongside Folk’s own footwear range that launched in 2005.

“We may have to downsize some of our collections due to space restrictions but we will continue to sell other brands in the store on Lamb’s Conduit Street,” says McAteer. “Our best-selling brands at the moment are Acne and Humanoid.”

McAteer is, of course, aware of the potential in the vast womenswear market. “If women’s does well it will blow men’s out of the water,” he says. And if this first look is something to go by, Drapers has every faith it will do exactly that and avoid the ‘buyers’ brand’ moniker. 

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