Meet The Founders Of Colville, An Eclectic British Brand By Ex-Marni Designers
All of you came from slightly different backgrounds. How has this informed the direction for Colville?
Molly Molloy (MM) I worked with Lucinda on womenswear and Kristin was working on menswear at Marni, so we’ve been work colleagues and friends. When we left Marni, we knew we wanted to continue our professional relationship, because we worked so well together and we knew that it wasn’t a risk.
We just wanted to create a wardrobe of ours, of things we loved and wanted to wear, and in Colville there’s something from all of us that comes together in a unique voice.
Lucinda Chambers (LC) What’s really interesting is that we’ve all had different experiences that we bring into it. Kristin coming from menswear has the eye for tailoring and details, Molly is also an artist so she illustrates, and I’m on the photographic side, coming from a magazine.
Even though it’s all different, Colville has its own identity that it’s bigger than any of us individually. I find that really wonderful, that it has a very distinct voice, almost like a fourth person.
The brand is named after Colville Street in West London—where did that idea come from?
MM It was where David Hockney lived and frequented, so we chose the name because it’s associated with him and a sense of creativity, but also because it looked so great. The type is beautiful graphically, it looks elegant and strong and doesn’t feel English or Italian, or masculine or feminine, it could be French but it isn’t.
It has the connotation of strength. We were really lucky—in the beginning when we registered the name, they said to choose another name because it’d likely be taken.
LC I couldn’t imagine it being called anything else now.
Kristin Forss (KF) There were other names thrown around, but I’m so glad we didn’t have to use them. We thought about using our surnames and it just didn't sound right. It sounded like a detective agency.
Colville was founded by three strong, independent women. What kind of women do you look up to?
KF People who are brave and not afraid to do what they want to do.
LC I really like when women aren’t afraid of saying I love fashion. I love when they don’t care, but I also love when they do.They’re very much like our clothes in that they feel individual and idiosyncratic and independent, things you want to wear for yourself.
It’s not a brand that’s about status, it’s a brand about individuality and strength of the individual. You can put it together different ways. We’re not at all controlling about how people perceive it or when they mix it up with other brands. We want it to have a life outside of how we imagined it.
Speaking of individuality, how do you feel social media has changed the way we consume fashion?
LC In a good way—it democratises fashion. It’s wonderful that everybody has a voice but also not so wonderful. When I first started in fashion and applied to magazines, everybody asked “who do you know?” and I think in any age, it doesn’t matter if you know anybody to get a job; it’s a good thing.
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Colville has often been pegged as "anti-fast fashion." Would you agree?
MM The thing we wanted to do with Colville was make sure it's not showy. It’s just clothes we want to wear—we want women to have an emotional response to it and not to wear it because they want to be photographed in it.
LC In that perspective we’re not at all trend driven, we don’t do collections that cancel out the last collection, we do collections that lead in and work together so you can mix the pieces across seasons.
Your accessories are some of your most popular items. What are some exciting pieces we can look forward to?
MM You know, it was Lucinda’s idea to include accessories from the beginning because at first Kristin and I wanted to just do the clothes, because we knew how hard it can be to start on multiple projects at once. But Lucinda wanted to do the total look because her skill is in seeing something from head to toe. So from day one we did shoes, bags, jewellery and even hats with Stephen Jones, which have been really successful for us.
One thing we’re working on right now, which we’re particularly proud of, are these Colombian bags we’ve made with a local tribe. They’re all handmade in Colombia which we finish in Italy with the leather. It all started when I met a Colombian woman in Mexico walking up and down the beach selling bags. I bought one for myself and wanted to collaborate with her. She then told me they were made by women in the tribes back home and since then, the bags from that collection supported 16 families for a month.
LC We've got another set coming from villages in Bengal. I think we're going to continue to grow this project.
MM It’s exciting to help women in different countries. Each one is unique because they’re all done by hand.
KF We were told the women need to be happy when they make them, so sometimes they decide to make them slightly differently!
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