Matt, the Founder on Why he Launched The Fableists

Matt Cooper, Founder of The Fableists

Matt Cooper, Founder of The Fableists

I’m Matt Cooper, and I guess you could say I’m the guy who started this thing and I thought I’d tell you why.

I have been lucky enough to spend 25 years working in the advertising and production industries. Starting in an agency dispatch department, I have worked in a number of companies in various fields within the advertising world. I have been able (along wife my wife, Sarah Cooper, who runs this blog) to create a few things within the advertising world that have become interesting global businesses. Along this journey, we have worked with and met some of the world’s most celebrated advertising people, from top creatives to world class directors and been inspired by their creativity but also how they so often put their ideas and talent towards good causes.

It was while I was in India on business that the journey towards launching The Fableists began. I fell head over heels in love with India and started to read about it. For several years, the only books I would read were based in India, about the history, the culture, the people. You could say I got a little obsessed! As part of my personal study of India, I read about child labour and grim factory settings. This made me start to look more deeply in to the garment industry in general. I became interested in the whole process of making clothes and was shocked to discover what heavy chemicals are used to grow the raw materials we make clothes from and in the dyes we use. I was horrified to learn that farmers in India were exposed to these chemicals and that it was making them and their families ill, that Indian farmers in their thousands were committing suicide in order to escape the cycle of debt in which they were finding themselves because they weren’t getting a fair price for their crops. On top of that, as a lifelong asthmatic and father of one eczema sufferer, I couldn’t believe that this could be partially caused by the presence of chemicals in the clothes that I was wearing; that I was clothing my children in. I wasn’t entirely naïve to the slightly dodgy by-products of the fashion industry but this was a wake-up call.

So, I made some changes to the way I buy clothes, and my family buys them. I started talking to people about sustainable clothing. I spoke to some clothing designers about ideas, I spoke to people in the ethical and sustainable fashion world, I spoke to the contacts I had in the advertising industry… I was probably kind of annoying! I was like a dog with a new bone and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I believed we could do something to make some changes and that we could do them now, rather than waiting for some deadline a decade (or more) away. In trying to make changes to how my family consumed, I found that there weren’t any sustainable clothes for kids that suited us. I thought: ‘We could make them. Why not? We’ve started businesses before!’ Between my passion for buying sustainably, my desire to create some cool kids’ clothes, and my connection to the creative world – I had a bit of a light bulb moment. We could do two things: create a lovely but edgy kids fashion brand that would appeal to this trendy crowd (and others) and work with those brilliant creatives to help us create the brand and get it out to the rest of the world and help spread a very real, positive story – minus any b*llshit. And bang! We were off.

What we wanted to do was simple. First of all, build beautiful, design-led clothes that would be affordable and sustainable. And secondly, allow you – the buyer – to find out everything about who produced them, designed them, packed them, shipped them and helped us along the way. Really we were creating our own mini movement to push out to the world. We know you want to make good choices and we’re offering you an easy, stylish way of doing just that.

We built the brand and started to put a team of people together, all of whom we met through business one way or another, to build on our mission to change the world, one design at a time. That beautiful line and simple mission statement was dreamt up our agency partners Brother & Sisters. You can read more about them and why they have gotten behind this project in the Our Story section of this blog. We are also working with director Olivier Venturini of global production company Great Guns to create documentary style films about amazing kids who are true Fableists. We are in the process of creating a beautiful brand film, written by the team at Brother and Sisters and animated by Oscar-winning visual effects company The Mill. The Fableists are many!

What started with a small idea has now launched as a brand and we are both excited and extremely proud of what we have achieved. This business is and always will be a collaboration of creative folk doing what we think is right and giving our customers what we believe they want – amazing clothes that will stand out from the crowd (and last) and for the business to be totally sustainable. We want you to hear our whole story as it unfolds and you can always find out more about The Fableists on this blog.

This is a passion for us. It’s become a lifestyle and it’s certainly helped me make more positive choices in the way I buy. We hope it will do the same for you.

We hope you like where we are going so far and hope you’ll pick up some of our clobber for your own lovely little punks.

We are always eager to hear from you, so please be in touch.

Viva La Fableists!

Matt Cooper

Meet Crispin Finn, Who Have Designed a Range of T-Shirts for The Fableists

Crispin Finn's Studio

Crispin Finn’s Studio

Crispin Finn have designed a series of t-shirts for The Fableists’ launch. These t-shirts will not be mass produced, so you will have to be quick once they become available! You will be able to buy them from The Fableists by July 2013.

Crispin Finn are a design duo that produces everything in red, white and blue. To see more of their work, check out their web site.

TheFableists > Tell us a bit about your background. Where did you start? Where do you come from?

CF > Crispin Finn is actually two people – Anna and Roger. Although we came from different creative backgrounds (Anna from Graphic design, Roger from Fine Art), we had many crossovers of interests and influences – vernacular design, functional but elegant ephemera, hand painted sign writing…that sort of thing. So, on evenings and weekends we started making things together. This was around 2008, and the first thing we made was our screen printed 2009 year planner, which was born out of a lack of functional but attractive ones for our own use.

The pseudonym Crispin Finn came from combining Roger’s middle name (Crispin) with Anna’s then nickname, Finn (long story). We liked the way they sounded together and the idea of an autonomous identity. Anna is originally from Salford, Roger from Leicestershire, and we both live and work in London.

TheFableists > What, or who, inspires your day-to-day work?

CF > This is a long, and probably endless list but to name a few constants: David Gentleman, Tom Eckersley, Eduaordo Paolozzi, A.M. Cassandre, Steve Powers/ ESPO, Eric Ravilious, Alex Steinweiss, Charles Burns, Milton Glaser, Bob Gill, Paul Rand, Alan Fletcher, Herb Lubalin, Sophie Calle, Matthew Brannon, Gerd Arntz, Lee (Alexander) McQueen, Margaret Calvert, Chris Ware, Stanley Kubrick & Phyllis Pearsall.

TheFableists > Would you say you draw every day?

CF > In some form or another – yes, either on the computer or sketching out ideas. Roger tends to work with a pen and paper, Anna directly on the computer.

TheFableists > Where are we most likely to find your work? Is it mostly in the medium of advertising, magazine, print work, online, or other?

CF > We started making things for ourselves, either in screen print or physical form and then started commercial work just over a year ago. So we guess it’s found across the two. We’ve not done so much editorial work but we love magazines and publishing so hopefully we’ll build on this area too.

TheFableists > What was the inspiration behind the designs you created for us?

CF > We loved the ethos behind The Fableists’ [idea] of creating a small but really good strong classic range of clothes for kids almost like an all seasons uniform, and felt it rung true with that of old denim work wear. We started to look at some of the older labels and liked how rhyming descriptions were often used to reiterate the qualities and connect with the customer. The idea that a phrase could be read more than one way also felt like a nice fit with a range that could be worn in summer or winter, and be handed on to different owners.

TheFableists > What are your thoughts on The Fableists? Do you think there should be more people doing what we are doing?

CF > We really love the fact that The Fableists are encouraging and communicating to both kids and parents about the ethos and manufacturing processes behind the clothes they are producing. Not sure about more people, but rather getting existing companies to look at the way their current lines are made. Less is definitely more.

TheFableists > If you could work for anyone, who would it be? Do you have a dream client?

CF > So many, but to name a couple off the tops of our heads: Royal Mail and The London Underground. We love British institutions that have a history of supporting the arts, and a long line of exceptional artists that they have worked with and promoted.

TheFableists > Do you have a particular client that keeps coming back?

CF > Hopefully, The Fableists!

TheFableists > Are there any places in the world that make you feel creative?

CF > Rather than just one place, we find travel in general very inspirational. We don’t think there has been a place we’ve visited that hasn’t encouraged new ideas and isn’t full of unique cultural surprises and identities. Also, we tend to get itchy feet and a desire to get back to work if we are away for too long which is always a good thing – to try to bring back that energy to the studio.

TheFableists > If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

CF > One of the reasons we were excited to work with The Fableists was the way in which you’re not only carefully sourcing a good, sustainable, ethical range of products, but also communicating and demonstrating that it is possible to your audience. That the journey of the item is as important as the desirability of the item. To make it such a visible part of the process and “message” is so important, and maybe highlights that we could all do with spending a little more time considering not only if we “want” something, but how that thing came to be, who made it, where, and what will happen to it once we’ve finished with it.

The first view of the Crispin Finn designed t-shirts will be posted later today. Here is a sneak peek:

'Made to Wear Well' by Crispin Finn for The Fableists

‘Made to Wear Well’ by Crispin Finn for The Fableists

Smock Top and Smock Dress ~ First Look

Smock Dress by Th FableistsSmock Top by The Fableists

Here are a couple of our first items of clothes. They are made in 100% organic cotton chambray. The Smock Dress is based on a vintage Parisian dress and the unisex Smock Top is based on vintage work wear. The Smock Top looks just as good on boys, we just didn’t have any on hand!

Both will be available soon through our web site in sizes 4-10.

The Fableists Will Launch Soon!


We are a design-led company creating sustainable children’s clothes with a nod to vintage clothing and work wear. We are about well designed, utilitarian clothing with punk-rock flair. Our clothes are built for play, comfort and standing out from the crowd. They are sharp and equally at home in London, New York and Paris, or over in the local park. We are very proud of our brand but don’t need to splash it all over the clothes.

At the same time, our clothes won’t cost the Earth. The making of our clothes does not damage the environment and we make sure that everyone involved in their making is paid a fair wage and works in a safe environment. We encourage you to take care of your clothes so that they last longer and pass them on to someone else when you’re done. We want you to buy fewer of our clothes as we think less is plenty.

We believe in being a transparent company and won’t cover up anything that we are doing to make our clothes. If you’re not told where your clothes come from…it’s probably not great news. The Fableists tell the stories of how our clothes are made, from start to finish. And the story does not end there, we have lots in store.

We are making sustainable clothes for cool little punks – join our movement!

Our Promises

All the clothes in our first range are made from 100% organic cotton and are GOTS certified
Everyone involved in making our clothes is paid a fair wage and has a safe work environment
We do not support sweatshops and have personally visited the factories where our clothes are made and dyed
We don’t beat the price down at the expense of labourers in the clothing factories or farmers growing the cotton
We will teach you to take better care of your clothes to help them last longer
We want to make consumers aware of the devastation buying mass produced clothing causes
We want to stand out from the crowd and make changes to the way we make clothes now – not 10 years down the line
To make beautiful, timeless clothes that are not dictated by the whims of fashion
We will not become a big, faceless company