Q&A with Designer Jeff Griffin
Designer Jeff Griffin began his fashion career at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art, he spent his early working years in Milan then came back to England to set up his own company, Griffin Laundry, in 1994. The brand built up great recognition within the art and fashion scene with pieces such as the sleeping bag coat and in 2001 Griffin opened its first concept store on Portobello Road. Campaign for Wool got in touch with Jeff , ahead of his LC:M #LoveLife showcase for 2015.
1. Please tell us a little about yourselves and how your business/designs/products utilise wool?
Griffin has always been a champion of luxurious, high quality fashion and selling to the likes of Presents in London, Flannels, Louisa via Roma, Nanamica, L’Eclaireur, WP in Korea, Beaker to name a few. All of our luxurious wools are all sourced from around the world including mills from the UK like Fox Brother’s, Harris Tweed and William Bliss, Moon, Robertson & Sons. These fabrics are chosen for their durability, integrity and their timeless luxurious qualities. Almost every Griffin collection focuses around wool and the fantastic qualities and interest it brings to each garment.
2. What makes you choose wool over other fibres? What is your favourite thing about wool?
Wool is such a beautiful fabric to work with and creates a luxurious feel to our garments. We like to use a lot of modern techniques with wool like lazer cutting and use in new ways to show people new ideas and help to perceive wool as a new and exciting fabric. We integrate wool into sportswear and try to create a new perception of wool, not as a heritage fabric, but as something that is really quite modern, versatile and cutting edge.
3. By what means do you source your wool?
We source our wools from local suppliers and have built up relationships with companies we’ve met in Paris and Italy at numerous shows. All of our wool is sourced from the best mills around the world, including the UK. We’ve been going to these companies for years, as they are the best. It is important to us to use UK wool manufacturers and support local production. It seems mad that we import wool when we have such abundance here in the UK, and some of the best Mills in the world so why not use them? We also have our own flock of sheep on Loveland Farm where Griffin Studio is based and are looking into the future possibilities of producing our own Griffin wool!
4. What does the Campaign for Wool mean to you?
Campaign for wool is really important to us to help raise awareness of the benefits of using wool, not only to consumers but also to people within the industry. Bring people together and creating a better understanding and awareness of something that is important to us. We have collaborated with many companies over the years and are always pushing for wool to be at the forefront of any designs we do. Moving away from man-made fibres and mixing things up is always something that I important to us.
5. The retail landscape is forever changing with a growing trend for more sustainable fibres, what does 2014/15 hold for you as a brand?
2015 is looking to be a very exciting year for us. We are working with some great guys in Japan and new distributors over there. We are doing more installations and exhibitions than we have ever done. We have a pop up shop in Paris planned. Straight after New Years we have a long boarding film with the new Griffin clothing using local skater guys and girls. A climbing film booked in Feburary. We’re also looking to expand our flock of sheep on Loveland Farm and look into creating our own Griffin wool. So yes, a very busy but exciting year!
6. Fabric technologies, particularly those using wool have advanced so rapidly over the last few years, has this affected your trade and work?
Our factory La Rocca has always been at the forefront of garment technologies. Their background in jackets and outerwear allowed us to produce the technical aspect the Griffin brand is known for. Techniques such as seam bonding and laser cutting has allowed us to create technical sportswear for the past 20 years and is something we are always researching into and developing. There have been some really interesting developments with wool, especially in sportswear with things like merino now at the forefront of outdoor clothing.
7. How does using woollen cloths differ to other man-made materials?
The qualities of wool lend itself to technical fabrication and offers qualities that you just can’t get from synthetics. We’ve been working with a big Korean outdoor clothing brand and looking into the latest technologies in wool and merino in base layers and working with the idea of using natural fabrics and linking the clothing to properties found in nature.
8. What demand have you seen from your customers with regards to favouring wool over synthetic fibres?
Our customers understand the luxurious qualities of wool and why we use it in our designs. Wool is a luxurious fabric and has such a story to tell, plus it feels great. The longevity of our garments is something that our customers really value and is why they come back to us year after year and this quality is something that wool brings to each Griffin piece.
9. Are there any plans to introduce more wool in to your collection?
We are using some beautiful wool from Harris Tweed, Fox Brothers and William Bliss in the Griffin AW15 collection, which we will be showing at LCM, Pitti and MAN, Paris in January. The majority of the collection focuses on wool and almost every piece from coats, to womenswear, to trousers has wool featured as a major part of the design. We’ve literally just finished our shoot for this collection and have worked with local mountain boarders, skaters and horse riders to really show the versatility of Griffin garments and their transition from city to country.