Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Introducing Percival

The moment we heard murmurings about the launch of a new menswear label that is designed and manufactured in London our hearts skipped a few beats. As soon as we regained our composure we sought to find out more information about Percival. The label is the brainchild of two twenty somethings, Chris Gove and Luke Stenzhorn, neither of which have a fashion design background but they do have a great deal of enthusiasm for the craft of menswear. After a number of years of not being satisfied with fits and fabric options the duo decided to take matters in to their own hands and launched their own clothing line. After conscripting design and pattern cutting help from Olivia Hegarty and six months of hard graft later the debut collection will launch imminently. The collection consists of sixteen garments across all styles and colours using an array of mouth watering fabrics including; Harris Tweed, beeswax cotton from Scotland, chunky lambs wool, heavyweight Melton from Yorkshire and fine Portuguese cotton melange to name but a few. We caught up with Chris and Luke to find out as much as we could about both them and Percival...

SS: Percival is your first foray in fashion design. Tell us a little about your respective backgrounds and how you came together for the label? What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind Percival?
Chris: For as long as I can remember, I’ve bought clothes and never been one hundred per cent happy with the fit or fabric – every purchase has felt like a compromise. I knew how to sew because my mum used to be in fashion, so I bought an over locker and sewing machine. For the past seven or eight years I’ve been making alterations to everything I’ve bought – plus following menswear trends has been a bit of a hobby for both of us.
Luke: We’ve both been illustrators and graphic designers for a while now. One Sunday morning at the beginning of last summer we were messing in a sketchbook with ideas for a waxed fishing jacket when eventually the sketchbook filled itself with different ideas for clothes and we both suddenly thought that we probably know enough people to make this happen and started to put the label and collection together.

SS: What does Percival mean to you?
Chris: At the moment – lots of late nights and endless decision making. But really, it’s something we’ve both always wanted to do and we’re really enjoying the huge rewards like seeing samples coming back & ideas coming to life. We’re already getting positive feedback from everyone

A look at a few inspiring snippets (via their twitter)

SS: Talk us through your debut collection.
Chris: From a distance we wanted the collection to look like classic worker wear, but subvert that idea when you take a closer look and start noticing the polka dot, large plaid and pinstripe linings to various jackets and shirts. We had the idea that the linings would almost be secretive in a boyish and cheeky way – you could choose to show those elements if you roll up a sleeve or leave a jacket open. Luke and I are still so childish – always fighting, climbing trees and just generally getting up to mischief – but then we have to go to work and act serious. So the range was really trying to echo those ideologies.

SS: Craft and local manufacture are obviously very important to you and you took an ambitious debut collection for AW10. We love that the collection is both designed and manufactured in London and that it uses the finest of materials, including Harris Tweed, beeswax cotton from Scotland and heavyweight Melton to name a few. When we spoke to the chaps at Albam earlier in the year they described how some of the factories can be difficult to find and that the manufacturing scene is extremely close knit. How did u find and source your local factories?
Chris: Originally the clothes were going to be manufactured outside of London, but the morning before sampling was due to start, we were let down. We were frantically trying to find other places when our pattern cutter/designer Olivia Hegarty found a place almost on our doorstep. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise – we’re really proud of the fact it’s all designed and manufactured in London.

SS: What were the first and last items you remember designing?
Luke: The wax macs were one of the earliest pieces, that’s what spawned the whole range really. We had designed lots of pieces we really wanted to make quite early on, but we had to edit and cut down the range into a concise collection that made sense and wasn’t just a group of wanten ideas. The last piece was the Tweed blazer, it seemed like the hardest so we kept putting it off.

One of the waxed macs

SS: What are your favourite pieces from the collection or is there anything that you are paricularly proud of?
Luke: We’re happy with the whole collection – the wax mac is a personal favourite but I keep changing my mind which colour/lining combination I prefer. One of the things we are most proud of is how all the pieces fit. We spent ages agonizing over the smallest details to ensure all the clothes would fit perfectly. We roped in tonnes of friends for fitting sessions, just to make sure we could get the sizing just as we wanted.

SS: How do you see the brand developing over the next couple of years?
Luke: We would love to have our own shop one day – we have so many ideas for it already. We’ve also started some ideas for a collaborative womenswear range as well.

Two shots from the upcoming video depicting the collection in action.

SS: Which fellow brands/designers do you admire?
Luke: There are lots of designers and brands doing really positive things at the moment. UK labels like Folk, Albam and Heritage Research. Margaret Howell, Band of Outsiders and Opening Ceremony are favourites too. bStore are putting together some great stuff as well.

SS: Is there an item of clothing or accessory that you’d like to see more men wear?
Luke: Breeches. We love them. Who says there only for the riding paddock or the golf course? I’m pretty sure Chris is trying to bring the perm back too.

SS: If you could go back in time and experience any moment in style or fashion movement, what would it be?
Luke: At the moment, Chris and I are going crazy for Madmen – so I guess I’d like to be sharp shooting in a New York ad agency in the 1960s.

Another still from the upcoming video

SS: How would you describe your own style?
Luke: Comfortable, casual and boyish.

SS: Finally, would you be able to share a few address book recommendations to our readers (hairdressers, tailors, cafes…anything you like really) which we will duly add to our map?
Luke: Well…there’s a favourite pub of ours tucked away in a secret corner of North London called the Hemingford Arms and there’s the most amazing button shop off of Goodge Street. It’s stacked floor to ceiling with old boxes of everything you could ever want. It’s worth paying a visit just to have a blather with Maureen, the lovely old lady who runs it.
Chris: For Hairdressers there is a salon in Stoke Newington called Kontact (ask for Claire or Mark) who are amazing at cutting and styling. Lastly Leila’s coffee shop off Arnold Circus in Shoreditch has the best coffee I've ever tasted.

We even love the look of Percival's hangtags.


Craft and local manufacture are clearly important to the chaps and we applaud their inspiring endeavour and wish them every success. We love the fact that this debut collection is both designed and manufactured in London and that it celebrates the finest of materials that these shores have to offer including Harris Tweed, beeswax cotton and heavyweight Melton. We are told that the collection will be on sale by the beginning of September and we cannot wait. We will certainly be keeping a keen eye on Percival in the coming months and will of course keep you all informed of the developments as and when we hear of them.

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