Here at FFF we’re big fans of quality design whatever the medium so when the brain behind super cool London fashion brand Percival got in touch we sat down to find out what they’re all about, and what’s new in their world as 2016 gives way to 2017…
For those who might not know you, tell us a bit about Percival – your story and background?
Percival is 5 years old and still owned by me (its co-founder and head designer Chris Gove). I try to keep as much of the manufacturing in London as possible, the story of garments designed and manufactured in London is both rare and a story that our followers really appreciate. It allows me to drop multiple short runs of product a year, keeping its offering fresh & varied.
It started as online store and, after numerous popup shops identified Berwick Street as an up-and-coming menswear area to launch our flagship store. In September 2016 Percival closed the doors to its store due to a massive rent increase and moved everything to a new online plartform after receiving its first round of investment.
Noted followers & wearers include; Alexa Chung, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rick Edwards, Jack Guiness, Alex Turner & Matt Helders.
Percival has a reputation for pushing creativity – how do you remain motivated and inspired to bring new ideas into your collections?
Part of the Percival ethos is to ‘redefine British classics through texture and print’, having that one line as a brief to yourself is a constant reminder to think about new ways to construct or frame the way we try to think about wearable menswear. I am always collecting references from textiles, graphic design and architecture, but go through phases of taking to different aesthetic references. More recently it was the patterns on the seat upholstery of public transport, they reminded me a lot of 80s knitwear jacquards.
How has your background in graphic design influenced your current career in fashion?
Almost all of my graphic design career was freelance, I spent a decade in a huge variety of agencies in London. Numerous pitches and design projects of all sizes was basically ideal experience for when it came to branding and packaging the tone of my own product – I knew exactly how to go about it.
Can you tell us a bit about the new Winter collection?
It’s a new limited edition range of outerwear & knitwear for December. We’ve produced a qty of 30 only for each style at our London factory, each one individually hand numbered. The story of timeless classics enhanced with London based construction and Italian fabrics, the Percival Pea Coat, Sheepskin collar Whitley jacket and Outershirt have been brought back in our classic neutrals of navy and charcoal, but we’ve included a cinnamon Pantone that runs throughout the collection. Our knitwear, woven in Portugal from organic lambswool, enriches the collection with the creation of our custom ‘blanket‘ weave.
The Blanket Weave you’ve just released is particularly interesting, can you tell us a bit more about that?
This blanket weave uses the technique of completely reversing areas of knit jacquard to give the appearance of multiple tones in a limited colour pallet by using the back of the knitted piece. It’s a new weave I developed with the technicians in Portugal, for a few seasons I’ve been trying to find a way to use the reverse of a knit weave. Usually hang loops on the reverse tend to snag on everyday objects preventing its use. After a 6 months of development we found a way to to incorporate the front and reverse on one side.
..did you have the pattern/design in mind before you discovered the technique, or did the technique inform/dictate the design?
I had collected a lot of references from Ottoman Rugs and Kilim textiles, generally they are all hand woven giving them a sense of uniqueness. I wanted to replicate a similar tone with the new knit collection. Plain woven knit jacquards tend to feel quite geometric, computer generated – I had created a jacquard artwork that didn’t repeat, we used that and references from the inside of lots of previous knit jacquards.
Anything exciting in the pipeline for 2017?
We’ve just launched our new online platform and have moved to producing multiple seasons a year rather than the standard Summer and Winter. We’ve moved almost everything to our London factory which means turning round ideas quickly with short runs using special edition fabrics. We’re soon to launch our first leather and accessories, so 2017 should be exciting!