What we mean when we talk about 'Handle'
Astonishingly enough our AW17 collection 'Bibliotheque' is our 8th season presentation. It's been an amazing ride - four years of challenges, learnings, growth and actually just super-radical-dreams-do-come-true good times that we wouldn't change for a thing.
Something we believe really strongly in is being transparent with our customers about our design and manufacturing process. We have a significant and unique relationship with our maker Paul, who is based in Shenzhen China whom we have shared on our blog before. The clip here shows the stages before make happens, when we go through the dizzying process of selecting materials for our ranges from the material markets located about 150km further north in Guangzhou.
Taken by radical collaborator photographer Holly Graham, we wanted to share with you a closer look at the intense process that is a fundamental part of the presentations you see come to life each season.
As we scour the walls of the various leather and textile suppliers, we generally go in with an open mind of what we are looking for. There is usually a loose outline in terms of palette but quite often a material will find you and that's where the magic really begins. Normally when you are looking for something else. From a supplier who you would least expect to have that special radical magic.
During the design phase of every style, and as we are walking through the markets, we often go back and forth talking about 'the handle' of certain materials, especially with leathers but it can also apply to textiles too.
So what do we mean when we talk about handle?
Fabric handle refers to the quality of a leather or textile; specifically how smooth or coarse it feels to the touch. We look at the weight and density of the piece, the fabric’s flexibility and the textural elements that ensure the shoe feels simultaneously resilient and luxe! We check for shine - if we are looking for matt leathers we avoid the over processed feel of heavily painted leathers and always, always always we are touching, feeling, imagining. Sometimes with heavy hands, pinching and checking creases, sometimes running smooth and flat over a material, sometimes with noses pressed right in checking the grain, and then checking again.
Holly caught this so well in a short movie she decided to make impromptu whilst travelling with us. We love everything about what it says as it reminded us just how much thought, time, attention and 'hands' goes into every pair of our shoes. Sometimes for quantities as small as 40 pairs. From the beginning to the end. Hand felt, hand loved, hand cut. This is Radical, Yes!