Thursday, October 3, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

I read this morning that people employed in farming, fishing and forestry are the happiest. If you work in the media, you are less happy than quite a lot of other professions, apparently. Oh dear. While this news is a bit depressing in itself, it does shine a light on why Erica and Faye Toogood might have struck on the idea to 'pay tribute' to eight different trades with their new collection of coats, which launched during Paris fashion week. Admittedly, it's rare that one goes to PFW and ends up having a conversation about the particular details a bee keeper might require from their outerwear.
The Chemist coat
The Toogood passport
You may already know the work of Faye Toogood. She's a furniture and object designer whose studio has collaborated with the likes of Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony/ Kenzo fame and Phillip Lim. She teamed up with her pattern cutter sister, Erica, about a year ago to work on the Toogood coats collection. As with all great fashion concepts, there's a lot of theory backed up by thoughtful details. For example, each coat comes with its very own "passport". A label which details who your coat was designed and made by and who sold it. The idea is that you then add your own details as a constant reminder of the trajectory which each coat has taken. "There is no hierarchy here," comments Erica, "we wanted to create a feeling of transparency about the process of making a coat."

Each unisex coat comes in 6 sizes and is handmade in London. Faye does the design while Erica deals with bringing them to life by cutting innovative patterns which reflect how each worker's coat might have been worn over time, see the deep pockets on The Chemist. For The Courier, a fitted waistcoat with short cape, there were 17 toiles made before the fit was just right. The sisters mimic the movements of each worker to show me why certain details have been included, like the curved seams on the sleeves of The Mechanic or the slits on the cuffs of The Roadsweeper. The fabrications are like nothing I've ever seen before which makes trying on these coats a properly novel experience. Imagine a shell-like back created from melted bin bags, the bumpy texture of a baked latex print or the super-shiny and squeaky effect of sprayed and splattered rubber, a job which the sisters commissioned a guy who usually paints cars to complete. The coats are as hard-wearing as their names suggest too, cut from rot resistant canvas. It all sounds terribly tough and rough and ready but some of these shapes are akin to an elegant opera coat or a chic biker, in many ways. The ultimate aim, of course, is that you make it your own. Faye insists, 'we want our coats to look and feel just as beautiful on a 60 year-old man as they do on a 25 year-old girl'.


The Beekeeper
The Courier coat
The Milkman
The Oilrigger
The Roadsweeper

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