james long and daniel w fletcher discuss the realities of running a fashion brand in 2018
To celebrate the start of LFWM two of our favourite designers talk openly about designing a collection, putting on a show and building a label.
We are just about ready for another season of very exciting mens fashion. The spring/summer 19 shows kick off in London with James Long’s London homecoming with Iceberg tonight, and then Daniel w. Fletcher’s first ever catwalk show on Saturday morning. So we got both of them on the phone to have a nice little chat about everything that goes into making a catwalk spectacular happen.
Daniel w Fletcher: How’s it going? Are you stressed?
James Long: No, I’m fine, actually. Are you?
Daniel: We’re nearly finished, just our last coat to do. There’ll be lots of sewing of buttons on in the next few days. We just had our first day of looks actually, so it was nice to see some things come together and get an idea of what it’s going to look like. That’s always a nice part.
James: So what are you doing for this fashion week?
Daniel: My first catwalk show. I’m on the saturday morning. We’ll be loading in and putting up our set up right after you finish on the Friday night.
James: How does it feel?
Daniel: I’m a bit nervous, to be honest. There’s a bit of pressure. It feels like anything can happen at any moment. I’m excited but it also feels quite surreal
James: Why did you decide to do catwalk?
Daniel: It’s my sixth season and wanted to show the clothes in a different way. I’ve tried a few different things now -- we did a street protest, presentation, showed a film -- and I want to test how far I can go with it and a catwalk felt like the right thing to do for this season.
James: Have you got some good stores?
Daniel: We’re in 18 stores now. It all started because Opening Ceremony bought my graduate collection -- that’s why I began the label.
James: That’s a lot isn’t it, just six seasons in.
Daniel: One season we went from having three to 14 stockists. Trying to deal with the production was a nightmare! But we’re figuring it out, the team is the same size still -- I mean the team is me and Carolina, we work it out between us. Is Sam still working with you at Iceberg? And your sister Charlotte?
James: Yes, we spend two weeks in Italy at the Iceberg studios in Emilia-Romagna, and then time in London too, it’s a lot of travelling but we all stick together. It’s a big team of different, very talented people.
Daniel: I can imagine having a whole team behind you must be a real relief. I remember interning for you, about seven years ago, and working on production, we were wrapping wool around a ladder to measure it. At the time I was thinking ‘Is this really how they do it?’ Now I’m schlepping rolls of leather in cabs over London and taking it to the factory. Looking back on those times, it makes sense now.
James: You never get told about the production part at college. I always used to be like I didn’t sign up for this.
Daniel: I don’t think I learnt anything about the business side either, I was completely unprepared for that.
James: But then you learn it on the job, which is a good way to learn.
Daniel: I’ve done consultancy work at the same time as doing the label. It’s nice having a team that do the production and business, so that I can design. With my own label there are constraints with budgets and studio capacity. I can imagine that now you’re at Iceberg, you have that freedom to just design what you want.
James: It’s actually not that different now, I mean I still design and draw and come up with the ideas.
Daniel: Why did you choose to show in London this season?
James: We did the first show in Milan, then for this I wanted to come home. For the show in Milan we did a parade around the Duomo, it was really amazing because everyone could get involved, it wasn’t just for the fashion press. So we’re going to do something a bit like that here. I don’t want Iceberg to just be in one city, I want it to go across the globe.
Daniel: It’s a really nice approach to it, fashion weeks can get repetitive and you can get stuck in a routine. That’s why I wanted to do a show this season, so I didn’t get into this rut of oh it’s Dan, he does a presentation every season.
James: I think as long as the clothes looks good, and what you’re putting out is good, well, that’s what’s important. You should be able to show it anywhere any way and it still be strong enough. When we started there wasn’t a men’s week, just a menswear Monday. Then there was the showroom, and so much travelling. I’m kind of repeating that now with Iceberg, doing it all again. But I really enjoy it, you meet so many people.
Daniel: In my first season after I graduated me and my sister went to NYC and brought all the clothes in a suitcase and just went round trying to sell it, not knowing what we were really meant to be doing.
James: Those are the bits that are fun, though, when you don’t really know how it works and you figure it out. There’s a real sense of achievement.
Daniel: Those buyers we went to see when we were dragging our suitcase around, now they come to the showroom in Paris and still talk about us turning up throwing it on a rail. Those were some of the best times when I really had no idea what was going on. Now it seems big and scary. But actually there are other parts of it that are growing. Doing a show for the first time, I feel like I don’t know what’s going to happen but it’s exciting.
James: Do you go to Paris to sell after your show then?
Daniel: Yeah we do. It’s always really nice to be in Paris, a lot of my friends from uni are designers -- we go to Paris and do the sales and that’s when we can actually go and have some fun.
James: We would always have a scream. Especially when we would first go to Paris. Everyone was so shocked that everyone in the menswear group were friends. When we started doing womenswear it was completely opposite, I was so shocked that no one got along. I think it’s because the menswear group weren’t so much in competition with each other.
Daniel: I feel like it’s still similar now.
James: Tell me what the show’s about this season.
Daniel: This season feels like I’m imagining this business man who has worked an 80 hour week and it’s got to Friday night and he’s gone out and gone absolutely ballistic. He’s waking up at nine am on Saturday morning -- when the show is -- and it’s all gone a bit wrong. So there will be suits with the lining hanging out. I want people to imagine where he’s been on this wild night, there’s something a little sexy and sadistic about it.
James: Sounds brilliant
Daniel: Yeah that’s the kind of feeling, how about yours?
James: With Iceberg, because the brand has such a big history, there’s so much to choose from when you start a collection. It’s always loud, pop, there’s a real energy of music. When I started it wanted to dress people casually but in a very chic way. That’s what we started with. There’s a real casual element but still a real fashion element. A lot of it is technically casual clothes. You’ll have to wait and see what the story is. You should come.
Daniel: I’d love to, but at seven on Friday night we’ll be in the depths of casting and finalising looks. If you manage to wake up before nine on Saturday morning, you are very welcome to come to mine!