Sex, power and danger are three electrifying forces for the Knwls woman. Born through social media, she takes control of her own image, wearing corsets like armour and ready to brave the apocalypse. Founded in 2017 by partners in work and life Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault (and known eponymously as Charlotte Knowles until last year), Knwls imagines a world where women aren’t objectified, blurring the borders between fantasy and reality. A nostalgic reflection on their teenage years sees garments take cues from the 90s and 00s, but Knowles and Arsenault’s vision is situated firmly in the future.
Interview tak­en from METAL Magazine issue 46. Adapted for the online version. Order your copy here.

All clothes from the Knwls Spring/Summer 2022 collection.
The show of their Spring/Summer 2022 collection, Adrenaline, took place in a dimly lit underground car park in the murky depths of Central London. Models stomped down the runway to a clashing industrial soundtrack as though emerging from the apocalypse in torn skirts and stained leather. The collection embodied the fierceness and resilience of the Knwls woman, planting her in a post-apocalyptic future where clothes are deconstructed and maximalist. Combining dystopia and nostalgia, 90s silhouettes are shredded and layered. Skin-baring sexiness was captured in cut-outs, micro-minis and bustiers. The contrast between these sensual garments and the show’s dark atmosphere elevated the strength in femininity that Knowles and Arsenault continually champion.

Fashion has been flirting with the apocalypse a lot lately; perhaps as an apt response to the current times. But for Knwls, isn’t about doom and gloom. Instead, the theme served as a starting point to create an armour for the woman who’s ready for anything. Drawing comparisons to post-apocalyptic and sci-fi films like Mad Max and Dune, the collection captured the cultural zeitgeist as we emerge from the pandemic into a changed world. Knowles and Arsenault design emotionally, translating their feelings about the world through careful craftsmanship. Crisscross straps and shredded fabric purposefully create a feeling of effortless disarray. Emotions about the present transmute into a powerful vision for the future. The designers defy patriarchal structures, rewriting the rules to propose a hopeful alternative, a world where women are not harassed, judged or disrespected.
They create new connotations for garments historically associated with oppression. Strength and support, rather than discomfort and weakness, are drawn from their corsets and lingerie. They prioritise comfort and stretch, noting that it’s all about choice. No one is forcing women to wear restrictive corsets these days. The contentious garment has been subverted, a playful symbol for how women can reclaim something previously disempowering to express their autonomy.

Social media is another tool to express that independence. Instagram has been a catalyst for the brand’s success. Even in lockdown people continued to purchase their signature pieces to post on the ‘gram. Insta darlings Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Dua Lipa are among fans. When approached about dressing Hunter Schafer in the latest season of Euphoria, the collab felt perfectly aligned because Hunter is “such a Knwls girl.” Being part of these major cultural moments has made the brand a cult favourite that gets snapped up quickly on resale sites.

Despite its success, being a young brand is still challenging even with the support the London fashion industry offers emerging designers – Knwls was nurtured by Fashion East and recently made the finals for the 2022 LVMH Prize. However, they’re still a small team and at times the pressure feels immense. But Knowles and Arsenault are passionate, savvy and instinctive designers. They offer a perspective that encourages escapism and imagination all the while making clothes that women actually want to wear. The refreshing sartorial vocabulary the pair have crafted feels more resonant than ever. Whether she’s striding through a desolate carpark with adrenaline pumping through her veins or snapping a selfie for Insta, the Knwls woman doesn’t wait for society to catch up with her. She’s already a woman of the future.
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Your Spring collection is titled Adrenaline. How did you settle on this concept and how does it relate to the collection?
Charlotte Knowles: When we started designing it, we were coming out of the second lockdown. We just felt this general craving for spontaneity and to go out and do things, to feel adrenaline and excitement again. We wanted to instil this energy into the woman and into the clothes.
Alexandre Arsenault: It was our first standalone show as well. We always said that the moment we were able to have our own space and our own show, it would be full of power and adrenaline and energy. During lockdown, everything was consumed through screens, so it felt nice to go back to doing something live.
CK: And being in the moment and seeing the clothes in person. We wanted to create a lot of movement and have a lot of texture in the pieces.
AA: The way we embodied that was this woman that is ready to brave the apocalypse, to go into the leftovers of the world and take over on her motorcycle covered in tar. For us, that's how we embodied adrenaline.
CK: It was a Mad Max kind of vibe, so we had all these abrasive leathers and skirts that we'd bleached and these tendrils that had almost been shredded. The jacket is almost as if it's been skidded on tarmac.
Do you feel like that apocalyptic vibe is a reflection of the cultural mood at the moment?
AA: Yeah, for sure. I feel like we’re quite emotional designers.
CK: It’s a story that evolves through the season as we're developing it.
AA: It’s more influenced by how we feel, how we understand the zeitgeist, how people are behaving on social media. We are led by this then we just pull random references and build this little part of our world.
So would you say that you are instinctive designers? Do you ever feel like you're running off adrenaline during the design process?
CK: Yeah, definitely. I think we're quite different designers. Alex is such a Virgo. He loves to plan and have lots of direction and I love happy mistakes and things evolving out of just creating. I think those two things together probably complement each other because sometimes I need to be a bit reined in and Alex is really good at the overall concepts of creative direction whereas I'm a bit more sporadic.
AA: Yeah, it’s a bit more chaotic than people who would sketch the whole collection, and then just do it. It's more pulled together from different things and then made into this new thing.
CK: I find that more enjoyable. I think I'd probably get bored if I drew a line up four months before the collection finished and it ended up exactly the same as that line up. I really like developing stuff and styling things together. To me, that always creates a more interesting silhouette and a more interesting combination. I think imagining it from your brain on day one could be quite limiting. 
The show itself was accompanied by a clashing industrial soundtrack. Why did you decide to use it for this collection?
AA: For us, it made sense to have this aggressive sound to really embody how we perceive our woman. It's this super powerful, confident woman and the soundtrack represents that.
CK: It always creates this slightly unapproachable energy. I think the girls really go with the music and they channel this strong, unapproachable energy which is what we always want to put across. AA: It makes people there a bit uncomfortable.
CK: They can't objectify the girl. She's really in control. You’re in awe of that. She has so much power.
You have mentioned before that you prefer in person runway shows to digital. What do you think we get from physical experiences that you can't get from digital?
AA: I always say that it’s like watching a live gig versus watching it on YouTube. It's two different things. You get something completely different. It's not that the gig on YouTube is bad. It's still enjoyable, but it’s a different experience.
CK: It’s an experience being in a room with other people witnessing it at the same time. It’s being part of something that not everyone has experienced. I think that’s a special part of it. Also seeing the clothes in person, you understand the texture more and how it moves on the body. It’s less controlled.
AA: At the same time, you can really make sure that people experience it the way that you want. You control the volume of the music, how much space there is, how much speed there is. Whereas if you watch it on YouTube, people are just in their own room with the speaker on their computer.
CK: It’s not curated in the same way. It’s not attacking all the senses.
AA: That said, we did a video for our next season.
CK: It's fun to do both. We like doing both. It's just different.
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Digital fashion has also been gaining momentum in recent years and the first metaverse fashion week took place last week. What do you think of digital fashion and what role do you think it will play in the future of fashion?
AA: I feel like digital fashion and the metaverse are two different things at the moment, but the industry is trying to streamline them into the same world and make them become one thing. I think they’re jumping the gun a lot on this whole metaverse thing. People are trying to make it a thing before it becomes a thing naturally. Once the technology is more advanced, it will be more appealing and more understandable to more people. In the future, when people are living in that world, it will make sense. At the moment, people are trying to go into a world that doesn’t really exist yet and trying to create codes for that world that doesn't really have codes yet. So, I think reality still has power. Social media and digital are really important, but we're not at the metaverse stage yet.
CK: Even on social media I think people respond more to real things than they do to digital things. Maybe it’s just taking a while for people to come around to it in a real way.
AA: Yeah, there are mega interesting things happening in the digital sphere, but I think we’re still a bit far from digital fashion really becoming a thing. I don't think it’s ever going to replace real fashion shows. We could have fashion shows for our avatars in this massive multiplayer game or second world, but I don't think it's ever going to replace the real world.
Your designs are often inf luenced by the 90s and early 00s which were times of greater optimism about technology and the internet. Do you feel optimistic about the metaverse and the future of tech?
AA: I’m optimistic about technology. I think the metaverse is a bit premature, but technology is advancing to a point that is so impressive. In the gaming industry you can create things with AI that just a few years ago would have taken years to generate. It’s getting so powerful and impressive that it will give us so much potential. The medical field is finding so many new technologies and getting closer to solving more issues. I think there’s massive positivity with technology. Obviously, we grew up in the 90s and the 2000s so that’s why we’re inf luenced by it. It’s nostalgia for our teenage years.
‘Future’ is a word that you have used to describe the brand. What does the Knwls woman of the future look like and how does she live her life?
AA: We built our design language around the idea that there is this woman that was born through social media. When we started the brand, we didn’t really feel like anyone was doing clothes that were sexy anymore and giving control to women. There was this new woman on social media and Instagram and the internet that was tired of how things were going. She wanted to be in control again and control her image. The fact that there was a screen creating that boundary left room for experimentation. We saw that there is definitely this woman who’s in control of her image and doesn't dress for a man. She doesn't dress for anyone else but herself and her audience. To us, that was the future. She was dangerous. She lived in this world that was on the borders of fantasy and the digital world. That's how we saw the future and hopefully, that's how the future is going to be. It seems like it is.
Conversations about feminine empowerment are often conflicting, with some arguing that any choice a woman makes herself is empowering and others saying it's possible for women to make disempowering choices. What is your view of this? And what do you think is the future of female empowerment in fashion?
AA: For us, it’s all about how women are wearing our clothes. We make such an effort to design things in a way that is never cut or done in a way that could be interpreted as objectifying. If there's a reveal or a cut-out, there’s always going to be something that makes it a bit weird.
CK: There's loads of layering. Even if there are parts revealed, it’s always subtle and in specific places.
AA: I think that most choices women make are empowering if they feel conf ident about it.
CK: Yeah. If they feel good, then they’re going to feel empowered.
Many of your garments are inspired by lingerie and corsetry which has traditionally been viewed as a restrictive form of clothing. Do you think attitudes are changing? How do you think corsetry will be viewed in the future?
CK: Whenever we do a corset, it’s usually comfortable and we always try to make sure that there’s an element of stretch so it doesn’t feel restricting. For me personally, when I wear a corset, I feel quite supported. For some reason, it just makes me feel better. It makes me feel quite strong. It’s almost like a protective thing. Visually, I’ve always found it really appealing. I think that the comfort factor is something that sets it apart and makes it relevant for today.
AA: It’s like armour.
CK: One of the main things that interests us about it, and underwear as well, is the technicality and the details and these really beautiful techniques and finishings. That’s something that we always apply to our clothes.
AA: It’s using something that has maybe a strange connotation and we’ve been transforming it, re-adopting it and gaining back control of that more oppressive connotation. There were corsets back in the day that were basically just bras. They were just used to support bosoms. It became through time, in certain groups, something that had to be really tight, but it started off as a support and a tool so it's about regaining control.
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 In recent seasons we’ve seen a revival of revealing fashions such as lingerie, cut-outs and micro minis. With that has sometimes come with a return of ultra thin bodies being revered as the ideal. How do you make sure that your garments are designed for every body?
AA: That’s a hard thing to do as a young brand. There’s a lot of pressure put on you to do everything and then you try to do everything. We made a lot of changes in how things were fitted with stretch fabric and stuff like that. But the moment you do bodycon, you add 20 layers of complication to your whole sampling and production process and fittings for shows. All these things that people don’t really think about. They’re like, argh why does that not fit everyone? Because we would need to do 25 different sizes for it to fit everyone.
CK: At the moment it is basically just me and Alex making a lot of the stuff, so it is pretty hard to make different sizes, especially when they’re complicated pieces.
AA: And then you need extra samples for the show if you want to have a few models that are not sample size and you have to redo tonnes of samples because you don’t know what the styling's going to be. You end up having to spend tonnes of extra cost and extra time that you don’t really have. We always try to cast in a way that doesn’t just show ultra-thin body types. Most of the Knwls girls we like have at least a bit of curve. They have a healthy body type. Again, it’s a really difficult thing to be forced to do as a young brand, especially when there are massive houses that have the capacity to have each sample in every size, do whatever they want and they just don't even try.
Your work is often described as feminine. Many labels are now describing themselves as genderless or gender neutral. What do you think is the future of gender and femininity in fashion?
AA: I don’t think feminine is necessarily gender related. There are a lot of men and non-binary people who wear our clothes. I think they wear it because of the fact that it’s feminine. If tomorrow we said we were going to do a men’s range, they wouldn’t be as interested in it. Or if we did a non-binary line, they’d be like, “Okay, the reason why we were wearing your clothes is because of that femininity.” Femininity doesn’t discriminate gender. There are always people asking why we don’t do a men’s range, but that’s not the point. The guys that wear our clothes don’t care if it’s labelled men’s or not. They just want to wear the clothes. We’ve had quite a few nonbinary people in our shows. Maybe people didn’t notice and maybe that’s even better. We’ve cast trans models, people of different sizes, people from all around the world and different walks of life. What’s important is that they fit in our world and represent the brand.
CK: As long as they embody the spirit.
SW: How would you describe the spirit of the brand?
CK: Really strong and in control.
AA: Dangerous. We always love someone with an attitude that’s like, I don’t really give a fuck about you, I'm just going to be me.
You work with a variety of materials. There’s a lot of material innovation happening in fashion at the moment, in terms of biomaterials, leather replacements and recyclables. Are there any innovative materials that you would like to work with in the future?
AA: Sure, there are a lot of materials in the beginning of development and leather replacements that are super interesting. I think they’re still not close to what they will be at their maximum potential. We’re looking into getting boxes made for shoes with recycled paper or wood pulp. We spend a lot of time on sourcing to find factories and manufacturers that have certifications. That’s why some of our clothes are so expensive.
How accessible are new fabrics and new materials to you at the moment as a young brand?
AA: To be honest, when we started the brand, it was really, really difficult because we didn’t have quantities and a lot of these new fabrics and new technologies that make sustainable fabrics would require an order of like 500 metres. When we were starting out, we’d find a recycled poly fabric and it would feel extremely cheap because it was just remelted polyester. It was super thick. It basically felt like melted plastic. Now that we’re growing and technology’s advancing as well, there are a lot of suppliers that have better data technology and provide something that feels much more realistic and closer to the non-sustainable fabric and we have better quantities so it’s obviously much easier now. I think the industry puts a lot of pressure on young brands to take the step forward when it's so much easier for bigger brands to do it, but they don't. Hopefully, in the near future, it’s going to be even easier.
CK: We want to use more and more recyclables.
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What role do you think fashion will play in shaping the future world?
AA: It can play a big role. I don’t know if fashion at our level will have the most impact. I think it’s mainly fashion on the high street level that needs to change to have an actual significant impact.
CK: Fashion is such a public facing industry. With the invasion of Ukraine, I think that our industry was one of the biggest ones to really share news and raise money. I think in that sense, fashion does have a really big impact on influencing society and spreading news because it’s so public facing.
AA: But in terms of actual change for the environment, I think it will definitely need to come from the high street. Obviously, we can make an effort and try to influence them, but until they’re actually held accountable for what they’re doing, I think it’s going to be hard, even if we do everything.
Do you think that fashion will have a net positive or net negative impact on the future?
AA: If the high street continues like this then negative. If you take all the luxury fashion houses plus all the young brands then that probably equates to like 10% of the damage of one of those fast fashion conglomerates.
CK: What goes to landfill is from the high street.
AA: It’s also about educating people and making them understand that a t-shirt that costs £20 is not right.
CK: And valuing clothes and not seeing it as an activity to do every weekend or buying a new outfit online for every weekend. It’s just so unsustainable. It’s a social issue. I’'s the way that people perceive clothes.
AA: Most people who don't know about fashion or don’t really think about the fashion process think a t-shirt for £100 is ridiculous when what’s really ridiculous is a t-shirt for £20 because that means it costs them £3 to make. For that £3 they have to buy the cotton, make it into yarn, make it into fabric, dye it, sew it into t shirt, print it, label it, send it all across the world multiple times and then sell it for £20. There are definitely people in that chain that were not paid. People don’t understand that. They just think that’s the normal price for a t-shirt. Then as soon as you show them something that’s actually what it should be costing, they’re like, wow, this is ridiculous, I can’t buy 20 of them this year. It’s about education, like most problems in the world.
Last year you rebranded from Charlotte Knowles to Knwls. Why did you decide to change the name of the label?
CK: We had a trademark issue in America so that triggered us to think maybe we should change the name. Then when we talked about it, we realised it was actually quite a positive move. When we started the brand, it became this eponymous thing but we’re actually a massive team. It’s not just about me. It’s about this thing that we’ve all built together. We went through so many different options of what we could change it to. We wanted to keep it similar and recognisable but reduced and more cryptic and graphic. It looks quite futuristic to me. We kept the same sort of type from the original which I think visually helps people link it. I think it was actually a really positive change. I think people received it well.
The industry often makes out like each label’s run by one genius designer who’s put on this pedestal. Did you feel that pressure when the label shared your name?
CK: A bit, to be honest. I think it’s nicer to not have my first name in there. I wouldn’t say that I am the face of the brand. It’s not really the way that we operate. We're quite behind the scenes people.
AA: Yeah. We like it if the brand is in the spotlight and not us.
CK: It’s more about our world. It’s not about one person’s vision.
AA: The industry loves it though. They love when they can put someone in the spotlight and it’s all about them.
CK: People find it easier when there’s someone to attach it to.
AA: But it’s just not us. We prefer to put the effort into making the brand shine for itself.
When you changed the name, did you see it as a continuation of what you’d been doing, or did you reflect on what you wanted the future of the brand to be?
AA: I think it’s a continuation or a step forward. It seemed like a step backwards when we first thought about it because obviously, we had started building momentum with the other brand name. We were scared that people wouldn’t make the connection. It was definitely a really scary move but it made sense.
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During lockdown there was a lot of talk about what the sexy going out dress means today and since emerging from lockdown we’ve seen a revival in party girl aesthetics. What do you think the going out dress means today and how does it inf luence your work?
AA: I think again it’s all related to social media. It’s about what’s going to be the most attention-grabbing dress that is going to make you feel in control and sexy, but also get the most likes on Instagram. There are definitely clothes that you can see are getting more attention on Instagram.
CK: People love strappy and slinky pieces. I feel like that's very much the vibe at the moment.
AA: Our audience generally knows about the past so as soon as there’s an element of nostalgia where they can understand where the reference comes from then you can transform it with something that they can also understand but still feels new and surprising, I think that's when we get the most reaction.
CK: Yeah, something recognisable that has a twist.
You experienced a boom in lockdown with people buying your clothes to take photos for Instagram even if they couldn’t wear them out and about. Do you think that we will continue to see people making purchases principally to show them on social media even now that in real life events have come back?
AA: Some people, yeah. I think it’s a new culture, especially for pieces that are more niche and expensive. I feel like a big portion of those sales are related to social media usage and that’s it. They go in the picture and then they go in the wardrobe and then end up on Depop. During lockdown, we were scared that our sales would go down, but they actually went up because our main core pieces like our leggings were super comfortable to wear inside but also really good for pictures because of the prints. We were quite lucky as a business that we had this Instagrammable element to the clothes.
CK: Also, there’s that immediacy when you buy something and you want to show people. On social media, you can instantly show however many people are following you. Whereas if you wear something out, less people you know are going to see it. I think people definitely buy stuff to show it off on social media.
Do you think that buying clothes just to post them on Instagram is necessarily a good or bad thing?
CK: It’s quite useful. It’s quite good for the brand because it spreads awareness, especially if it’s a celebrity or someone who has quite a big inf luence. It’s really helpful for us in terms of sell through.
AA: We spend a lot of time on product development and making sure that the clothes are done the way that they should be done with the right finishings and the little details that are going to make them interesting for a long time so hopefully when someone buys something for Instagram and it ends up on Depop, it’s going to have a second life with someone else and that person maybe didn't have the money to buy it the first time because it was too expensive.
Then it ends up on Depop and they’re like, cool, now I can have it. Before then, people would go to an event once and then it ends up in their wardrobe, then it would just stay in their wardrobe or go to some dump. With Depop a whole new ecosystem has been built.
At the same time, I think many people are experiencing a kind of Instagram fatigue after lockdown. Sometimes the app feels like one big shop. How do you stay engaged with your social community?
AA: At the moment we are so busy we don’t really have time to stay engaged.
CK: We’re not that present on social media because we just have too much to do.
AA: The whole algorithm changed and it’s a bit tiring because you have to hit the algorithm to get it back. But we try to do it professionally and inclusively.
CK: We try to engage with people a lot. We always try to reply to people that DM us.
AA: We try to talk to people. We see it more as a way for people to come and have a little glimpse into our world and get interested. The end goal is for people to actually buy into the world and start wearing our clothes and be part of the world physically. We try to keep it interesting and show little details when we can. We want to show people a bit more of the studio and behind the scenes and get them a bit more involved in the brand. It's just finding the time to do that.
CK: We put quite a lot into our campaigns and creative content which I think people respond to quite well. I feel like that keeps people engaged, having these shoots that are a bit more like an actual world.
You have an organic presence on Instagram anyway with people posting the clothes. You’ve dressed many top models and influencers including Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. What kind of impact did that have for you as a brand?
CK: I think Bella wearing it way back in 2018 for the VMAs was quite a big moment.
AA: We always said that we’re a brand that was born on Instagram. We’re one of those brands that has boomed because we got lucky with influencers which was amazing. It’s always a nice surprise when someone wears our clothes because we’re so insular and we don’t get immediate feedback other than likes on Instagram. When we see someone who we didn't know was going to wear it or someone that just bought the clothes on SSENSE and then wears them, it’s always super gratifying. Even if it’s not influencers. Even if it’s Jessica who has 200 followers. It always feels great to know that there’s one more person who believes in your little thing.
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The latest season of Euphoria featured a few young British designers including yourselves. How did that come about?
AA: It took two years! It was our Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Heidi Bivens reached out and then she worked with Charlotte to figure out what she wanted and what we had because at the time we had a lot fewer samples and smaller collections. We sent a few things to Hunter then we sent some stuff to Heidi. She was really into it and was like, yeah, we’re definitely going to do it, but it’s going to take a while.
 CK: We had a bra in season one.
AA: Yeah, there was a bra in season one. Heidi said it was going to take a long time because it’s a long process and then it took a long time plus covid, but it was amazing. We really like Hunter. We feel like she’s such a Knwls girl, so it was a perfect match.
Do you watch the show? What did you think of the second season?
CK: Yeah, we loved it.
AA: Yeah. It started off very intense. At first it felt like they were trying to impress or outdo themselves and then it calmed down and went into some super interesting things like the character development and some of the discussions that they had about sexuality or gender. They were done so casually and so perfectly.
CK: There was no cringe factor at all. It was just so authentic.
AA: It felt more relevant than any kind of social justice warrior campaign. They did things with one small discussion that were so refreshing and casual. It was perfect. It was so well written.
CK: Yeah. It was amazing.
You founded the label upon graduating from CSM. What advice would you give to designers who are thinking of starting their own brand straight out of uni?
CK: Get your trademark! I think people just don't know what they’re getting into. It’s so intense and there are so many balls to juggle and there are so many sides to having a brand. I think you need to get the right support in place because if you try to do it on your own it’s so hard. We’re lucky we have each other and we’re lucky that we have my mum who is basically our financial director. She ran a business for 30 years so she’s very savvy. She’s been really amazing. I think people don’t realise what they’re getting into. It’s really crazy. You need support.
AA: They say that only 10% of it is the design. The rest is taxes, distribution, logistics and a bunch of other things. People don’t really consider that. A lot of the new students that graduate get impressed because some big department store or some big online store wants to buy £5000 of their collection and they’re like, “Oh I could be a star designer in London”. Then they jump into it without really thinking.
CK: Then before you know it, you’re on this treadmill and you can’t get off.
AA: It’s not as glamorous as it seems.
CK: It’s amazing and we love doing it, but everything at the moment is really intense because we’ve grown quite a lot and we're still such a small team. We're finding operations a bit overwhelming. We are not really an emerging brand anymore, but we still don’t have a big team so we’re having some teething problems.
AA: I’d say find someone else to do it with and someone who knows what they’re doing. You need to really consider it.
And do you think the industry could be more welcoming for young designers setting up their own brands?
CK: I think London especially is very supportive of the young people.
AA: I think it’s a bit too welcoming. It’s almost using young designers as a tool. On social media every week you have a new designer and every magazine jumps on it saying there’s this new designer that reinvents this or that. They use it as a new hype thing. All the big stores invest a bit in all the new designers and then if one sticks, they start putting more money into their buys, but if it doesn’t then they’re like, whatever. You see brands collapsing every day and brands being born every day and even 5 years ago it wasn’t like that, so I think it’s maybe even too welcoming. I think it’s amazing in England that we have that kind of support.
CK: But the support doesn’t really go deep enough. There are so many people that have been supported and had brands and then when they come out at the other end of whatever sponsor or support they've had, they don’t know what’s coming. Then they suddenly have these financial pressures on them. I think there needs to be more structural support and education.
AA: It’s rough for young brands these days. One thing I would say is you have to ask for help. Don’t feel like you’re too good. There are a bunch of other brands that are around you. Just ask for help and ask for things you don’t know about. Don’t just do it the way you think it should be done. We talk to so many young brands that are just cutting their margin in half because they thought, “Oh I want my trousers to retail for £300.” Yeah, but you only make 10% margin, and you give that 10% to your showroom so you make no money just because you want the trousers to be £300. That’s not how it works.
CK: When you start at a certain price point, it’s hard to then go up from there.
AA: Exactly. So just ask for help and ask about things you don’t know about. It's a rough start. Use the industry in London as much as you can where there are tonnes of other young brands and tonnes of support.
Do you feel like the relationship between young brands in London is more collaborative or competitive?
CK: It depends. We have quite a few designer friends. I think it depends on who you study with. We studied with pretty much all of our friend base who are designers.
AA: Yeah, I think it’s quite collaborative in that sense. There are obviously a few designers that are more competitive than collaborative, but most of the people that we meet that are our age are super nice and they're going through the same problems we are. There's no reason why you’d be competitive.
CK: It’s nice having the support. We’re really close with Jake and Stefan from Stefan Cooke. We really support each other and talk things out when things have been hard and when we have the same issues. It’s nice to have people around you who understand what you’re going through. Everyone’s super nice. We just did the LVMH semi-finals and all the designers there were so lovely. It was really nice to actually meet a lot of new designers that we wouldn't have met ordinarily.
Congratulations on making the LVMH Prize finals! How do you feel about that and what's next for the brand?
CK: I think we were very surprised that we got into the final! We’re just really happy and excited, but also a bit nervous. We’re not sure what to expect. I think we have to do a presentation in front of people. We don’t know who the panel is yet. We're just really, really happy that we got into the final. We weren’t really expecting anything after the semi-finals.
AA: And the future for us is just building the team and building the brand. Hopefully, in a couple of years, it will be a self-contained machine with teams in place and everything functioning so that we can really focus on the creative direction and do more collaborative projects. That's the goal.
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