As part of our season of reconnection we’re introducing you to the people who design our range. From settling into Cornwall to developing our vibrant Gorse print pattern, we sat down with our lead Womenswear designer, Laura, to discuss working at Finisterre and what brought her to the edge of the world.
When did you first start with Finisterre and how did it all come about for you?
I started nearly a year and a half ago. I came about the job because I was basically ready to leave London. I’d been freelancing for quite a few years, I’d been living in London for nine years when I left, having done university there. So I was kind of ready to leave London and my friend and I had recently been on this hiking trip in Wales, basically looking at house prices in St Davids and thinking, “how can we live here and still work in fashion!?”
I was getting tired of high-end fashion. And I’d dabbled a little bit in High street, but it wasn’t really for me. And then Finisterre popped up. My agent contacted me about the job. At first I was like, “Cornwall? Really??”, but then I started to think more like, “Hmmm, Cornwall… maybe it’s like Wales?”
What first drew you to Finisterre as a brand?
I think what drew me to the company was obviously its ethos on sustainability and trying to change our environmental impact. As soon as I started looking at the brand it all kind of fell into place and made sense. It felt right. It felt like the right place. I think because I had just got back into hiking and climbing and all of that stuff, I felt like Cornwall would be a really great move for me.
So what was the experience of moving down to Cornwall like? What happened?
I found out that I got the job around the middle to end of November. Then I looked at it and thought “Damn! They want me to start on the 18th of January. That’s not long!” I needed to sort where I was going to live before Christmas or I would have been majorly stressing out. So I went and test drove a load of cars on the Monday, picked one up on the Wednesday, drove straight down to Cornwall, came in for a meeting and then proceeded to look round Cornwall at houses. The first house that I saw was actually the one that I took. And I knew it was the one that I was going to take. But I still made myself look at 20 others!
I think as Christmas was smack in-between, it all happened really quickly. I had to pack up all my stuff in London, and I was like, “I don’t need no man... with a van.” So I just bought a roof-box and packed everything in my new car and my roof box and I’d just unload it at the other end. Well… that was horrendous!
It was slightly mental in hindsight. I was completely alone, I literally had a wall of stuff behind me, a roof-box full of stuff, and plants coming out all over the place! I drove down here and I think I arrived at about 5 in the evening, completely exhausted.
So you’ve been down here for a year and a bit now, in terms of Cornwall, the landscape, the setting – how does that influence you working here at Finisterre? Does it affect the process?
I guess it does to a certain extent. I think I always probably took a bit of inspiration from things like that anyway. When I was interviewing for the job, I put together a project for Debs (Product Director) and Todd (Lead Menswear Designer) and I based it all on my hiking trip in Wales. So actually, the initial idea for the Gorse Print range came from my trip to Wales. But obviously there’s so much gorse down here too so it just works for Cornwall AND Wales. It felt like it was meant to be.
It was the first time that we’d been on that coastal path and me and my Danish friend Julie were looking at it thinking “Oh my god, look at these beautiful yellow flowers!”, because it was in the spring and they’d only just come out. We thought it might just have been in Wales and then I came down here and was like, “Julie, there’s Gorse EVERYWHERE!”
So basically that hiking trip and all the photographs we took, all the colours from those photographs kind of inspired what I presented to them and that was almost the beginning of our creative direction for Spring/Summer 2019.
What I like most about it is that the print is the whole width of the fabric, which is around 140cm wide and about a meter long. That’s just the print repeat, which is massive, so it means that every piece is different, because the pattern will never lay out in the exact same place. Which I think is lovely and makes every item subtly unique.
Here at Finisterre, are there any ways that you and the design team work that’s different from the norm that you would have experienced in the fashion industry?
I guess, with us being a really small team, we work quite collaboratively and together. So Todd and I are always bouncing ideas off each other - “what do you think of this colour, or this colour?” Or, “how do we get here?” - and I feel that has really started to show itself in the product, especially between the Men’s and Women’s ranges.
In terms of sustainability, I feel like we have our main fabrics that we use. So when we’re marking out what those designs might be, it’s almost like we’re already placing them with fabrics so it’s quite a straight forward process. It’s a nice way to design because you have this limited selection of what we want to use, our core materials, and then we design accordingly. It all depends on what works and what doesn’t as well, what feels right. It has to be durable and it has to work, that’s the bottom line.
How has your relationship with the sea, and with Cornwall itself, developed over your time at Finisterre?
When I first moved here I knew no-one, so basically every weekend I was walking sections of the coastal path. I guess my favourite place is down around the Lizard, and Kynance Cove way. But yeah, I have a massive connection to it now, almost to the point that I can’t really imagine not living by the sea! And I can’t imagine my life before living by the sea. It’s really strange.
Surfing is a brilliant way to get headspace from work and from any stress. I was talking to my friend about this at the weekend actually, because I surfed on Friday and climbed on Saturday. Now, those two things were the only thing that actually stopped the running monologue that’s going around your head. Because that’s really the only thing you’re thinking about… trying not to die! I think that’s one of the things that amazing about living here instead of London, is that you have more of those moments and opportunities to switch off and reconnect.
Being here just puts things in perspective a bit. St Agnes head, which is really close to us here, has some of the best sunsets. It’s like the sun is just dropping into the centre of the ocean. You literally feel like you’re at the edge of the earth. Incredible.