We sat down with co-founders Frances and Lisa, in their beautiful Old Street studio space, and got the story behind their luxe and effortless clothing brand.
Interview by Isabel Ulatowski
How did the two of you come together?
Lisa: Frances and I started working together seven years ago on menswear brands. And then, the factory who we work in partnership with, gave us the backing to start our own line.
Frances: With the menswear brands, Lisa always worked in design and I was on the operations and production side. We’ve always worked well together, so it was kind of natural to start a brand together.
L: And it wasn't like going into something with a friend where you wouldn't know how you work together. We went straight into it, no issues, and being quite frank with each other. And of course we became really good friends anyway. With our background, we came into it not as just designers but with experience and connections.
F: We also both really knew what we did and didn't want to produce. Because we worked on quite a lot of fast fashion, when it came down to it, we wanted to be thoughtful about what we could make. Lisa and I wanted whatever we were going to do, to be quite meaningful and lasting, rather than making throwaway pieces.
And how has that translated?
L: It has become all about how the pieces fit into your wardrobe already, and how they can transcend each season.
F: There are some clothes, that can be on trend, but you just feel really awkward. So we wanted to be mindful of how the clothes we make work in real life.
L: By nodding to trends, like the crop top, we designed it so there isn’t a big gap of skin. Our crop reaches the height of our high wasted jeans, so you can feel comfortable. There are also pockets in everything! We want our clothes to be on trend, fit into your life, and be really functional. Something really cool happened the other day, since we’ve only just been able to start wearing the collection, Fran came in to the office in the plaid pagan playsuit after doing the morning school run…
F: But running, I ran to school, dropped off the kids. Caught the train, came into the office, we were doing stock take. Climbing over boxes and packing. And then that evening I was able to go straight to an event for a store launch, who stocks our brand. We were saying that is the life of our clothing, you should be able to go through your day, feel comfortable, and not have to change for the evening.
L: Thats what we always envisioned, and we were like ‘oh my god, it does exactly what it is supposed to do’.
Has your background in menswear played a role?
L: Definitely, I think there is a little bit of that girl who would wear guys clothes.
F: I think it comes through, even if maybe we started off with it more feminine intentions, it all eventually got stripped back and became quite androgynous.
And as far as your design influences go, what has stood out?
L: We kind of love Los Angeles, denim and jersey are very LA. And also a bit Australian, its that warm environment, laid back kind of thing.
F: And our factory is really strong with luxe fabrics, some really nice tactile fabrics, so thats what we've concentrated on. They specialize in jersey and denim. We are trying to hone in on everyone’s expertise, so you come out with a really good product.
L: A lot of our inspiration was kind of like boho and ‘flowy', but in London that doesn't translate very well. So even though that was the start of it, I think subconsciously we adapted to London and the clothing became very kind of minimal.
F: When we saw the range it was really clean and minimal, but If you look back at our mood boards it was a little bit crazy, with floaty tops and lots of Joshua Tree images.
L: And then there is the feedback we’ve received on the collection. Little things along the way, like @StyloNylon coming and shooting the collection. It has been interesting to see how people view the range, and what visuals they create for it. I really like that collaborative thing, it really helped shape it.
F: Every time we talk to people about it, we take something away from it. All of those experiences helped us get it down, get to the core of what we wanted to achieve.
What is coming up for S/S 2016?
L: We actually revisited LA.
F: We were inspired by the David Hockney pool pictures, so its quite a lot of turquoise, metallics, and whites. Some tie-die and subtle patchwork denim, but all very wearable.
L: There is also this picture of Lauren Hutton from Studio 54, literally gets re-pinned ten times a day, and she was wearing this sparkly amazing, really relaxed dress. So we made our version of it, as a T-shirt dress in lurex. That is how Uncivilized does a sparkly dress. Super easy to wear with boots, and easy to dress up as well. Everything is very subtle and wearable, with little nods to trends. We've got this really awesome 70’s Mum skirt. It is amazing, high waist, A-line, to the knee. Probably the most popular piece.
F: I want to start wearing that now!