Creativity is the outcome of playing with ideas that initially seem disconnected. Faye's sculptural eye and Erica's knowledge of shapes and materials come together to evidence this, and the result is Toogood. Founded in London by the two sisters, Toogood is reinterpreting classical patterns from a modern perspective and with broad neutrality: no gender, no age and no style dictates. We talked to them about their philosophy and latest collection, which celebrates domesticity.
First, let me please thank you for your time. Faye is a renowned designer of furniture, interiors and sculpture. Erica has worked creating costumes for theatre productions and custom orders for private clients. Was starting a fashion project the natural way to collaborate together?
Erica: Yes, we knew we would collaborate together; it was just a matter of time, to know ‘when’. We have very different interests and skills but we have the same philosophy. Faye would always require uniforms for her installations and that’s when we first started working together on clothing. The development of the brand wasn’t prescribed; it felt very natural and instinctive, which is a philosophy we still adhere to today.
Faye: The design of eight unisex coats based on workwear and trades in our first collection came from Erica’s dissolution of working in the fashion and theatre industries. She very much wanted to do something independent, so it was her scissor hands and my sculptor’s head coming together. I remember very clearly when she produced The Beekeeper and The Oil Rigger coats with the entire sculptural cutting. We worked in parallel: I questioned her traditional tailoring background and detailing, why would she add collars and buttons. We paired it back and made it as minimal as we could. It was very liberating and it was a unifying moment.
Are the ideas that spark creativity broad concepts, like housework in the Collection 008, or sometimes it is just the will to experiment with a material? 
The projects in the studio start with a concept from Faye, often autobiographical, but materiality also plays a key role. There is often one single concept that runs through the studio and straddles the various departments at that time – clothing, furniture and interiors. There is a strong sense of materiality and experimentation within the studio and we are always trying to push boundaries with the materials we use. We often use non-apparel fabric such as artist’s canvas, cling film or gaffa tape to create garments, and there is always an element of hand-painting or screen-printing.
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 06.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 08.jpg
You use materials collected from old fairs and markets and that makes the pieces unique. When you buy these materials, do you look for something in particular according to the collection or is it a more open process?
This is never prescribed or formulaic, it’s often a fluid and instinctive process. We have a material library in the studio, which Faye describes as her ‘jewellery box’. Over the years, she has collected many objects: from man-made and industrial materials to found and natural objects, this is often the starting point for collections or projects. Some of the materials we find might be used straight away or some could be sitting on the shelf for years until the perfect opportunity arises. We also use clothing archives and do extensive research into different trades. We always experiment and modernise materials so that it’s never a repetition or a pastiche of workwear but something modern and sculptural.
The collections and the brand are not only unisex but also neutral in a very broad sense. I like that idea very much: this is what we do and you choose how to wear it. What made you take this approach from the beginning?
Faye always talked about wanting a simple uniform, to design apparel for fellow designers and other individuals outside of the fashion industry. Simple lines, sculptured forms and finishes that push the boundaries of cutting and textiles as we know it. We work in an instinctive way. It was also a desire to create something that wasn’t enforcing a particular attitude onto the customer; we were fed up of being driven by trends.
Additionally, we believe the customer is becoming more informed and there is the desire of wanting to know where their garments come from. We are both passionate about British manufacturing, and wanted to pay homage in our collections to the industry, to tradesmen and craftsmen. We’re passionate about them, making sure everyone involved in the making of our clothes is acknowledged on our label: from the designer to the cutter, seamstress, presser and hand finisher.
Why is domestic work the central theme of the Collection 008
Faye will set a concept for the year which infiltrates into objects, clothes and space. It often has some relationship with what is going on in her life at that time and there is often an autobiographical element to the collections, so it’s no surprise that Faye’s second pregnancy pre-empted a collection based on domesticity.
The Collection 008 is very textural. We used crumpled and laundered linens in milk and butter tones, a mattress ticking stripe as well as a paper weave woven in Japan, which has a basket-like texture. We printed a dishcloth stripe onto silk organza, playing with familiarity yet luxuriousness. We developed a rag-rug technique for our limited-edition pieces, weaving lengths of cotton calico into a cream canvas in mop-like clusters. We also worked with the photographer David Hughes, who captured beautiful still lives comprising of household items – sponges, scourers and eggs – that were then printed onto garments.
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 22.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 21.jpg
In the Collection 008 we see that the collaboration with shoes manufacturer Feit continues. When was the first meeting and why did you decide to work together?
We have known about each other since the beginning of Toogood. Feit reached out to us as we have similar philosophies in our approaches and in how we work. They wanted to wear our clothes as much as we wanted to wear their shoes! It was a seamless and natural collaboration as we both have the same understanding and appreciation of materiality, form and the final product.
Toogood is a progressive concept and I imagine you would like to expand it and experiment in the following collections. Where would you like to go in the next years?
Thank you for your kind comment. As mentioned, we cannot predict where will Toogood go as it’s an incredibly instinctual journey. We would like to continue to push the boundaries of making clothes and continue to dress people of all ages. We are also launching a British denim collection and it will be very interesting to see how that progresses.
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 13.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 17.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 25.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 26.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 12.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 11.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 31.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 30.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 18.jpg
008 Toogood Brand Photography Tom Johnson 27.jpg