Stories of Now: Teatum Jones
For many creatives, social media has become an essential awareness-building tool – but for the design duo behind UK-based fashion label Teatum Jones, it’s a gateway to the human stories that drive their collections
With fashion designers seeking inspiration in everything from the strange to the sublime, there’s never been a shortage of stories on the catwalks. London-based Teatum Jones is another label using narrative to drive its collections – but the difference is, the affecting tales its creators weave in are ours.
“We are a brand that creates fashion from human stories,” states co-founder Catherine Teatum. “People and community are at the heart of our creations.” Both Teatum and her design partner, Rob Jones, who met whilst working on a men’s catwalk show in Italy, are struck by poignant stories – especially those that centre around adversity and survival. “We begin most of our research on a primary source basis, talking to people directly,” says Teatum of their creative process. “This research grows into creative conversations that we have with our Instagram community – so much of the very first stages of creative development are evolved on social.”
Since launching Teatum Jones in 2011, the pair have used social media to foster the relationship they have with women who wear their brand, as Teatum explains: “The community of fans that we speak directly to via Instagram provides a constant conversation that fuels our desire to shine a spotlight on issues that are important to us.” These conversations are not only translated into the bold fabrics, colours and silhouettes the brand has become known for, but also the way in which collections are presented. They push for greater diversity in mainstream fashion weeks and their shows have featured models with disabilities, plus-sized models, and models from differing ethnic backgrounds.
Teatum and Jones are also big on sustainability, developing their own eco-friendly fabrics and seeking out innovative ways to combat the problem of waste. “Many of the ways in which we have answered this has been through employing craft and artisanal techniques to push forward innovations in our textiles development,” Teatum says. “In 2016, we were the first ever British brand to win the International Woolmark Prize awarded for our innovations with merino wool lace. We then went on to be nominated for Eco Age’s Green Carpet Awards for our constant drive to innovate and develop textiles and processes that will be kinder to the planet and leave a better legacy.”
Human connection feeds into the brand at every stage: “There is a really strong community in the supply chain we work closely with. We make everything in the UK and visit these amazing people on a regular basis.” In an industry so often fuelled by fantasy and extremes, it’s refreshing to see a fashion brand plugging in to people and planet in a way that’s truly engaging. And with so many more stories to highlight, the duo and their growing community are looking forward to the next chapter.