Zoot Magazine recently met Leeds-based designer Crystal Padmore to talk about her début eco-friendly womenswear collection, local collaborations and the harsh reality of becoming an upcoming fashion label in the UK today…
By Lucy Mclean
Zoot Magazine: Tell us a bit about the main concept or ideology behind the label…
Crystal Padmore: Coincide explores the constraints of ethical fashion, looking into the beauty of nature and sustainability. Society cannot always see the consequences of consumerism but sadly it is destroying our only planet and the species that survive on it. I wanted to make another option, providing beautiful, contemporary fashion products that adhere to corporate social responsibility by being ethically sound.
“I wanted to create a modern crafted vision with nature at its heart.”
Z: Where does the name Coincide come from?
CP: The name represents the coming together or collaboration between fashion and nature.
Z: Since graduating from Leeds College of Art and Design earlier this year, what has been the most exiting thing to happen for your career?
CP: I was extremely lucky to be shortlisted for the Ethical Fashion Forums INNOVATION award this year, which provided me with a truly amazing opportunity. I was also shortlisted for the ethical/renewable award sponsored by Magic Number Three at the Leeds Fashion Show this year and I recently just secured my first stockist in Leeds, Birds Yard, an award winning boutique.
Z: What is your favourite part of the design process?
CP: I love sourcing fabrics, because it is always a challenge to find innovative ethical fabrics but it is incredibly exciting when you find something that gives you a distinct vision.
Z: Had you always planned a career in the world of fashion?
CP: When I was younger I was obsessed with fossils, minerals and dinosaurs and I always wanted to be a geologist! Somewhere along the way I changed my direction.
Z: How do you make the Coincide clothing and brand package truly unique?
CP: I think the innovative knit in the design and earthy tones give the brand a unique signature style. I don’t use darts and structured patterns. I try to keep each piece fluid and comfortable. The brand focuses on the sustainable practices used to make the brand what it is…
“all the packaging is made from fully plantable seed paper.”
Z: What was the most valuable thing you learnt from studying a BA in Fashion Design in the UK?
CP: Understanding whom you are designing for and who your customer is, is the ultimate reason for any company. Understanding how to create a signature brand identity that shows continuity throughout is so important, so that a potential customer could look at any piece and know its one of yours.
Z: We love that you work on a local scale to collaborate with other upcoming artists and photographers, tell us about these relationships and how you think this has helped your work to develop…
CP: I work with HOAN Photography based in Leeds and I wouldn’t use anyone else. They are very much like me and have outstanding ethics and quality through out their work. We have a strong relationship and we have both set up our businesses around the same time, so its been a real pleasure to be able to work with this truly niche photography company.
Z: What do you think are the main difficulties facing upcoming designers in the UK today?
CP: The economy is a bad time for any business starting up, but it is even harder to compete with the huge fashion corporations who charge so little and produce in mass quantities. However, I believe this should not put any independent designer down because people are always looking for niche design that is limited edition, and peoples spending habits are changing.
Z: If you could work with any other fashion label, artist or designer (living or dead) who would it be and why?
CP: I would work with Genuine Article. They recently won the EFF INNOVATION award, and I met the brother and sister duo who have set up the company. They are truly the most down to earth and kindest designers I have ever met. The craftsman ship and quality that goes into each piece is truly amazing and I would love to work on a collaboration with the brand in the future.
Z: What inspires you most?
CP: The natural world is my ultimate inspiration. Far away from the concrete jungle, the beauty of nature is a running theme throughout my designs.
Z: Do you have a favourite outfit or shopping habit?
CP: I tend to go though fazes where I will wear one jumper for months. They are always from charity shops and I will wear the same jumper day in day out for months until I find another one in a different charity shop. I also have this amazing pair of peg leg tweed trousers that I got for 50p in my local charity shop!
Z: What music are you listening to at the moment?
CP: I love the Cinematic Orchestra; I love listening to their albums when I am in the studio. I find it really chills me out when the stress is building up.
Z: Your current collection is heavily focused on knitwear, including some beautiful woollen bags and accessories, had you always planned to work in knitwear?
CP: Not at all, I only learnt to knit whilst in my final year at University but I got the bug and love the contrast of textures you can create with knit.
Z: Are there any other particular materials you would like to experiment with in future collections?
CP: I really want to experiment with recycled pet fabrics and recycled sari wool.
Z: Do you think it is important for more designers to focus on an eco-friendly philosophy in the fashion industry today?
CP: Most definitely. I think it should be the underlining philosophy for all fashion labels. As a human race, we are stressing our natural resources and its going to have devastating effects if we don’t work towards change for the future. We are challenging our planets ability for the human race to survive on it and instead of working against it, I think we should be working with it. After all, it is the sole reason for human existence.
Z: You recently visited London Fashion Week, how was that experience for you?
CP: I loved it and it would be a dream come true to showcase there one day!
Z: What’s next on the agenda for Coincide by Crystal Padmore?
CP: I am working on building up more stockists across the UK for the brand. I am also getting ready for a few more shows in the next year and I am setting up the online store for the website that should be live by the start of 2012.