For us here at Finisterre, sustainable design goes beyond the fabrics we use and the factories we partner with. The construction of a product is obviously important, but for it to be truly sustainable it needs to be timelessly relevant, performing well and looking good through years of use. Worn anywhere, any time.
This is the ethos behind what we call designing ‘beyond seasons’. To get the inside story, we sat down with our Design Lead, Todd, exploring the inspiration behind this approach, what it means for our products, and how it continues to shape who we are as a brand.
“With my eyes turned to the past, I walk backwards into the future.”
- Yohji Yammamoto
For those not in the know, can you shed a little light on what we mean at Finisterre when we talk about designing “beyond seasons”?
Well, there are the actual seasons, which we do design our gear specifically for, and then there’s more what I would call trends or “fashion seasons.” At Finisterre we want to avoid trends.
When we design, we like the idea that that product will look just as relevant in one year, five years, ten years, twenty years! But we have to be very careful because design does have trends. There’s no doubt. You can look back through the decades and you can really pinpoint 60s, 70s, 80s fashion.
I think one of the best things that we can do is look back in order to look forward. It’s obvious when you look back, you can see all those things that have stood the test of time, and all those things that have always felt relevant. And that’s immediate inspiration to continue moving forward.
From a sustainability point of view, the way the fashion industry is so focussed on the latest trend, that can be a very disposable culture, and it’s kind of the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve at Finisterre…
Yeah, designing for those seasonal trends isn’t our approach as they’re such limited moments. I think within our industry, there’s a real need from so many designers to try and create the “latest unique product”. And quite often that unique product is just a moment in time that fades and feels old so quickly.
In that fast fashion world, there are some utterly insane figures with regards to product waste because people feel ‘we need to do a new season now’. It’s hard. As a designer, you make this product, and you want to sell it through. But for us at Finisterre, we’re getting to a point now where we look at our core pieces and we believe that there should be more continuity of the product. It should sit in the range forever.
So, I think it’s about trying not to get caught up in this desire of wanting something so unique that it’ll just lose its flavour. We live in a consumerist society. People buy things. But I think it’s good to build product that’s for a real need and function. You buy it because you’re planning an adventure or activity, and you need it. That product should take you on your journey until its possible end-of-life. And even then, we’re trying to give new life to these products; our new trade-in scheme, building for repair, for deconstruction, for recycling. This is all so exciting. This is a long-term vision.
You mentioned we’ve reduced our range and focussed in on those core pieces that really feel like Finisterre. What would you say is behind that?
I think the further we go the more ‘us’ we become. We’ve learned a lot. We really try to get to grips with our customers and we design to a need now, and that need is very relevant. I think there’ll always be a bit of backlash because, our stuff does look cool. So people will point to it and say, ‘well, it is fashion!’, but its fashion because the world has decided that that’s what’s currently on trend... We’re just doing what we do and it’s not our fault that the world has caught up to us and made us look like we’re on trend. Ha!
So, in a nutshell it’s about building product that people need, rather than what people want?
Yes. And we’re becoming specialists in that category. For our customer to know that we’ve tested a product, we’ve engineered it to feel relevant in decades to come; I want them to be able to pull it out of their wardrobe next year and the year after, and just enjoy it – not feeling they need to buy a new one.
At the end of the day, we’re a business who makes product. There’s no getting away from that. But we can design and build it in a conscious way, where pieces are timelessly relevant, sustainably constructed and beautiful. That, for me, is the essence of designing Beyond Seasons.