Marwood is a brand that we have been keeping an eye on for some time now. This summer sees the launch of its first collection of ties, all beautifully handcrafted in the UK.
Today seemed a fitting day to publish an interview with Becky French [the lady behind Marwood] as she is presenting the brand at London Fashion Week's menswear day.
Where did the inspiration for Marwood come from?
Inspiration came from a friend venting his frustration at not being able to find a certain tie. It got me thinking that I see so many bad, cheap looking ties... too shiny, too puffy, too brash. After that conversation I kept coming across really lovely vintage patterns in a slimmer width with a matt finish and interesting patterns and colour combinations and started to collect them. I had wanted to work on my own project of some sort and this evolved from there.
How did you turn Marwood from an idea into a brand?
I started Marwood by creating a blog. It was a simple way to start putting something down on paper, but in a more official and considered manner. It has been an effective and disciplined way to record research and make me think about what Marwood could be if there were no boundaries. The branding had been integral to Marwood from the start and I worked closely with graphic designer Sarah Carr (who designed all of the branding) to create a clean, non fussy, strong framework for the product.
Why did you decide to make neckties?
Neckties became a vehicle to explore all the elements of design that interest me - acute attention to detail, pattern, colour and proportion. It also needs experienced craftsmanship to be made properly and so allowed me to work closely with skilled manufacturers in the UK and learn their process.
If you could pick anyone to wear a necktie who would it be and why?
Patti Smith will do nicely. Or Jack Kerouac in his day would have been the perfect man for the job. As muses they have the right sensibility and attitude to design for - independent and individual to the core.
What are your plans for next season and beyond?
Next season is currently in the development stages. We are still going to be working with English lace and the silk mill that we have started with... But we are moving it forward. We also want to add complimentary products to the range but it will be gradual. Ideally it will evolve steadily so that each product can have the type of attention that the necktie is having.
How important is local manufacturing to Marwood?
Local manufacturing is really important to us. To have constant and accessible contact with your manufacturer ensures a considered, quality product. Also it feels right to use the genuine skill and experience of a historically English product rather than imitating it for a cheaper price point. I think it is about finding the best people to do the job and if that's on home turf then that will always be the first stop.
What is the perfect accompaniment for a Marwood necktie?
A sharp looking tie bar. Some of this seasons silk and wool patterns would look great with a grey chambray shirt or tattersall - anything textured. I would love to see the lace mesh bowties used as a new take on the dinner suit [black/white tie] as well.
What keeps you busy when you're not at the helm of Marwood?
Outside of Marwood I still freelance. Aside from work I am trying to make time to train for a half marathon in May - however this feels ambitious at the moment!
What have you learnt that you would have liked to have known when you set out with Marwood?
A crash course in business/sales/press would have been great. Saying that, I am not sure I would have embarked on it if I had known the extent of the jobs needed to get a product out there. It feels good to have learned so much already.
Do you think that making in the UK is viable for small businesses?
I think it is viable but in my experience it produces an expensive product... So it is for a high end product using quality cloth.
What challenges do you envisage for Marwood?
Challenges are definitely price points. Ensuring that we don't out price ourselves and stay honest to our customers. They will want to know that, if they are paying a lot of money, they are getting an individual product that will last.
Do you have plans to sell online?
We are currently offering a personal order service online and this will eventually lead to an online shop. Marwood has moved so quickly since launching in January, so we are going to watch and learn this year to time any big ventures properly.
Marwood will be stocked at bStore from April for an exclusive Spring/Summer 2011 collection for them. The Autumn/Winter 2011 range will also be available in bStore and Edifice [Japan] from the end of May/June.
If the the Marwood blog is not in your bookmarks we highly recommend it as a source of sartorial splendor: marwooduk.blogspot.com
Marwood photography by Emilie Bailey