Proper: So, Jamie, how are you mate?
Jamie: I’m very well. Thanks for having us again.
Proper: How has the lockdown affected you and the 7L team?
Jamie: Before the official lockdown was announced, our staff were already working from home. I felt it prudent the week before to close the office as we really didn’t know the gravity of what was going on. Obviously, the virus has been very difficult for everyone and it’s been extremely hard on businesses, 7L being no exception. For a while, we lived in the unknown, but I suppose the greatest asset humans have, is the ability to adapt to change. We’ve had to be very organised, use effective communication and ensure daily / weekly progress meetings. I’m sure out of this global tragedy, we have all learned something about ourselves, our families, our neighbours and communities.
Proper: Tell us all about the brand-new Origin system you’re teasing us with….?
Jamie: Inspiration for the new system started in January 2019 whilst we were showcasing our TREK system at ‘Jacket Required’ and I heard designer Christopher Raeburn talking about slow fashion and keeping your brand true to its origin. It sparked a whole new thought process for me, in which direction to take the brand next. I managed to grab a meeting with Mike Stoll, MD at Cooper Stoll brand and Private White VC. Mike has spent his entire career making the finest outerwear for home-grown clothing brands.
Mike introduced me to outerwear designer Chris Vandrill and we hit it off immediately sharing and creating ideas.
My vision and brief to Chris for the brand was to produce functional-first garments, inspired by classic vintage military styles & sportswear archetypes, fusing advanced fabric technologies for the fashion-outerwear industries hoping to promote a new cultural movement for sustainability where fashion meets function and performance meets style.
Over the past 12 months we have worked hard on building new and maintaining existing relationships with our preferred suppliers including Scholler AG Textiles in Switzerland and Taiwan, Toyota in Japan, ASF in America but also utilise some British fabric makers and British Manufactures and brands such as ArkAir, English Fine Cottons and recently Robert Mackie in Scotland helping to reduce our overall global footprint and do what we can to boost our own British economy. So, in conclusion the new Origin System is made up from around 50% British made or British natural organic fabrics and 50% Internationally made and technical fabrics, but who says we can’t make a 3 Layer waterproof shell in Manchester again one day!
Proper: Do you have a favourite piece in the collection?
Jamie: Chris and I worked extremely closely with this collection to ensure every piece was unique in style and function but with traceability, quality, sustainability all being high on the priority list. Some favourites are the Manchester made Exclusive Classic Tees and Crew Sweaters (Supima Cotton, finest in the world, Technical COOLMAX® stretch travel shirts, Organic cotton field jackets (Dinsmore Mill – Ireland) to Japanese fabric waterproofs recycled from plastic bottles. They’re all my favourite….haha.
Proper: Oh and there’s also a collab with another one of Proper’s favourite brands, ArkAir. What can we expect from this collection and how did the hook up come together?
Jamie: We decided to approach ArkAir as I wanted to bring a true military aesthetic and feel to the Origin System and ultimately to the brand overall. This collaboration fitted perfectly with the brief of “British sourced and manufactured products”. We visited their headquarters and archive rooms in Exeter and I was like a kid in a sweet shop, looking at all the old vintage military jackets, trousers, bags etc…The new collaboration pieces will be launched officially in August / September.
Proper: Although the future seems uncertain at the moment, what direction do you see 7L going in next?
Jamie: I’m really pleased with the current direction of the brand and people are being very complementary about us, so obviously a good thing. Over the next couple of years, we will continue to build and grow, hopefully opening our own flagship store in Manchester. I want somewhere that our customers can come, relax and enjoy the experience, trying things on, talking to experienced staff, feeling the fabrics and quality of the products, learning about traceability and where all the fabrics come from. I want our customers to feel a part of the brand too. With regard to retail, The Origin System will be launched in a major store in Japan this September / October. We have been very particular on choosing the correct partners for the brand and its ethos, so ensuring that we are represented well, is one of our fundamental values.