As we are about to launch our latest Collection 05, we spoke to Jenna, our designer, to hear all about her inspiration behind the collection, her favourite pieces and how she incorporates sustainability in the designs.
When and where did you design Collection 05?
I started designing the collection at the beginning of November 2019. At that time we were still at our Liverpool Street office and I came up with most of my ideas while I was walking home from the office. It was around an hour and 20 minute walk so it always gave me a lot of time to think up ideas and then I would run in to the office the next morning to note them down and start planning.
What was the main source of inspiration behind the designs?
The main source of inspiration for this collection is Japanese film maker Yasujirō Ozu. I had been watching one of his films “Good Morning” (a comedy from 1959) a few weeks earlier and the strong stylised visuals had really stuck with me. I decided to research his work further and was really drawn to the warm autumnal colouring of the film sets, the checked pattern interiors and the costume details of the characters. The kids in the film have a chunky horizontal stripe motif across their knitted jumpers so this is one detail in particular that inspired me. I turned it into something a little more minimal and modern; delicate contrast stripes, and added it to this season's knitwear pieces. Interiors of Ozu’s films also have frequently included warm toned checked fabric and this was inspiration for our Check Classic Car Coat. I was also inspired by a few character's large rectangular blazer flap pockets; these also became a detail in 05 pieces.
What is your favourite piece from this collection?
The Car Coats! They have so many small thoughtful details added in to make this coat super practical and timeless. Both fabric options are really beautiful and have great sustainable qualities; made in an incredible Italian Mill, Olmetex. We have the Check colour way which is Organic Cotton and utilising end of roll fabric so we only have a few limited edition pieces. And then the Olive colour way which is made from sustainable castor bean plant. The coats have detachable hoods so you can take it off if you want the coat to look a little more formal, and then pop the hood back on during the day incase you get caught in a shower. They have classic car coat details like a button close vent flap, amazing faux horn buttons made from waste milk protein and the interiors are fully bound in contrast organic cotton tape. The pockets are large and have top opening flaps for a visual statement - but they also have hidden side openings for comfort. Its a very classic coat perfect for layering with recycled cashmere knits in the autumn and then over a recycled cotton t-shirt in the spring.
How did you incorporate sustainability into your design process?
Sustainability is always our priority so it really starts from day 1 of the design process. I usually have some initial visual inspiration in my head (in this case Yasujiro Ozu movies) which give a direction for the style, colours and feeling of the collection as a whole, and then I start sourcing fabrics and trims. We source specifically looking for the most sustainable and practical fabrics as our first priority. It means often we will meet suppliers and not even one of their fabrics will meet our standards, so it's quite a slow and laborious process! Once we find fabrics which do meet our sustainability standards, and we love the look and feel of them, I will start designing around them. We want our collections to be small and concise so I think a lot about what pieces our Riley Studio customer wants in their wardrobe, and how these pieces will work together with our existing collections.
When we decide to make any new pieces we consider the sustainability of every aspect of that garment, from the environmental impact of producing the fabric, to how easy it will be to recycle it at the end of its lifecycle. It's also about all the people involved in the process of making that. We have a really amazing team of people doing fantastic work to create each of our garments, from Ashley at House of Cheviot who is busy producing our socks in the Scottish Borders, to Lev at Tower Garments managing our outerwear production here in London, and many more! I think there’s a real importance in knowing where your clothing comes from and feeling confident that they have been made ethically and with a lot of care.
Collection 05 is available from 23rd October on pre-order. Explore our Limited Edition Classic Car Coats and more here.