Two sisters, two brilliant minds, united by the same name: Toogood. A powerful name if ever there was one, Toogood is a unisex, sculptural and innovative brand.
Since London, Faye and Erica Toogood have always made the coat the centerpiece of their work, breaking free from the usual boundaries of fashion. Their clothes, as revolutionary as they are timeless, refuse to be divided by gender, style or age and manage to keep their own identity, like these creative sisters. Family photo.
L: Toogood being your real name, your childhood must have been interesting...
Toogood: Absolutely. Our family name is Toogood. It's our father's name, our grandfather's name, a very old English name. Today we find it quite useful, as people remember it - although some people might think we take ourselves very seriously! As children, it was a very complicated name to bear. Teachers and students called us "Too Bad", "Too Good To Be True", that kind of thing... There was a lot of teasing and joking. We had to turn it into something positive.
L: Have you always collaborated with each other?
Faye: We started the original Toogood project three years ago. We are sisters and we were very eager to work together. Erica was a pattern maker. She worked in high fashion and theater. I was in furniture, objects, interior design. We absolutely wanted to collaborate on a common project, combining our two skills. We explored the question of the importance of the coat. Coats are passed down from generation to generation. They tell something, they are the irremovable pieces of a wardrobe. For example, we still have the coats of our grandparents. So we set our sights on the coat. We created eight for our first collection, kind of like a series of uniforms. We made a photographer's coat, an explorer's coat, a doorman's coat. Making sure that each profession is identifiable throughout the piece.
Erica: The notion of fabrication itself is very important to us. Our starting point was workwear. Making workwear that is not cartoonish. Something beautiful and exciting. That was the most important thing. Our pattern library started with coats.
L: How did your relationship with Leclaireur start?
TG: They were among the very first to come to us, from the very first season, and have always followed our work. Every time they came to see us at the gallery, something would happen. I spilled coffee, gave them a garment to try on in the wrong size... It almost became a joke between us. We wanted to work with them so much that always a catastrophe happened. Last season, when everything went without a single incident, we were delighted.
L: How is your work organized as sisters and collaborators? Tell us about the dynamics...
TG: Our collaboration is actually quite quiet. We're sisters, so each knows exactly how the other feels. We are also very respectful of each other's space. Faye does the concepts and design, I do all the technical and practical stuff, which can lead to some friction, on some subjects. But it always takes us a few minutes to find the best solution. Loyalty and trust mean that we quickly find common ground.
L: What milestone do you feel you have reached in the last year?
TG: We knew there was only one way for us to approach this business. We make things, clothes, and sell them in a market, just like farmers. It's a very simple process. Some of our pieces go through the seasons, the notion of continuity is very important to us. We believe that to survive in today's fashion industry, you have to offer something timeless and durable. This is what we do, while making sure to preserve our identity. Whatever we do, we try to do it in our own way and with our convictions.
L: Toogood clothing looks like soft sculptures. Is that from the fabrics, the manufacturing?
The materials are inseparable from the designs, they are as important as each other, and that's the core of our work. We like to find materials that are not usually used to make clothes, and then make them our own. Our first season was entirely inspired by canvas, cotton canvas. We also used industrial rubber, we painted the coats... It's about finding a new way of looking at the material. Precious, industrial, raw, all aspects interest us. We are looking to find beauty in tin and calico, not just gold and silk. We have already used cling film, gaffer. At the moment we are working with a stainless steel used to make industrial filters as well as an English Cashmere that comes from the last two weaving mills in the country. This is essential for us. Sometimes the materialization goes very fast, other times it is much more laborious. At the moment we are working on a rope coat. It takes a week and a half to sew all the pieces of rope. The time and precision required is close to haute couture processes, although it is simple cotton rope, to emphasize the raw and primal side. How far can you go with a roll of rope? A young designer rarely has access to hundreds of meters of crystal... We went very far to answer this problem. Today, we have the opportunity to go even further.
L: What about color? Or rather the absence of color?
Faye: That's a big debate. I'm Ms. White, she's Ms. Black. Erica is the black witch and I am the white witch. We know that color is important. It's going to be very prominent next season. Up until now we have been focused on shape and sculpture. The silhouette is very pronounced, it pushes a lot of boundaries: the width of the pants, the size of the pockets. We've always taken risks.
L: The unisex concept is one of the great characteristics of your work.
Unisex is indeed a major element of Toogood. We have been working on the concept for two and a half years. It's interesting to see that it has become a major topic today. We have set up a big project for Selfridges in London around unisex. How will the stores combine women's clothing and men's clothing, and can they be combined? Will men wear women's clothes? Will women wear men's clothing? The audience is ready. Is it a men's cut? Is it a women's cut? It doesn't really matter. Is it a man's size? A woman's size? These questions are no longer relevant. The gender of a garment means nothing to our generation. We are convinced that it has nothing to do with androgyny. It's not about a woman dressing like a man, cutting her hair, looking like a boy. Women can be incredibly feminine and men incredibly masculine. We also explore the transversality of generations. A 70 year old woman can look crazy in a coat usually worn by a 20 year old in a Nike tracksuit... Neutrality is about gender and age, it's also about whether you want to wear loose or tight. It's all about having a choice.
We make clothes without specifying how they should be worn or what attitude to give them. They are clothes. Styling them is a personal choice.
That's the most important thing.
Creative Direction: La Frenchy (Mary-Noelle Dana & Michael Hadida) for Leclaireur
Images: George Dragan
Editing : Aurélie Cauchy
Music: For All Intents and Purposes by Falling For Frankie (SuperPitch)
Personal archives : Toogood