An Interview with Fableists Founder Matt Cooper

mattFollowing the release of our animated short ‘The Epic Thread’ (which you can view here), The Mill published this interview with Matt.

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The Fableists range is effortlessly cool but also has to incorporate an element of practicality – what are the challenges in designing for children? 

We have never really thought about kids differently. Firstly, we believe kids like clothes (we have four so have some experience!) – but not fussy stuff. Our stuff allows kids to be kids. The concept of The Fableists’ wardrobe is that you can wear the clothes in the city, in the park, by the sea, up a tree, or to Sunday lunch at grandma’s…

Read the full interview at The Mill’s blog site. 

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The Fableists Pop Up Shop in London

DSC_0082For anyone who would like a chance to see and feel The Fableists’ clothes in person, we have a pop up shop in East London. It is located in the reception area of our advertising agency, Brothers and Sisters. There is plenty of space to check out the clothing. You will find most of the range there and if there is anything missing, we can arrange to get it to you by post or for collection at Brothers and Sisters.

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Pop in and have a look. You will be amazed at how soft the Breton and Baseball tee are. All the denim items are superbly well made, with beautiful stitching and a thick, rich fabric. The colours of the t-shirts are much more vibrant in person.

Location:

31a Clerkenwell Close
London EC1R 0AT
+44 (0)20 7199 3100

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A Sea of Cardboard Boxes as Far as the Eye Can See

At first glance, this might not look like a particularly exciting building:

The Warehouse

The Warehouse

But step inside and it’s a cavernous treasure trove of products waiting to be shipped to online shoppers all over the world. This, people, is The Fableists’ warehouse. Trust me, it was a very exciting visit this morning, because I was going to see these:

Boxes and more boxes

Boxes and more boxes

Still not convinced? Well, my fashion-forward high-vis vest and I (along with the help of Gary and his utility knife) opened these babies up to reveal:

The Fableists' First Box of T-Shirts

The Fableists’ First Box of T-Shirts

Ta dah! They’re here: Our entire first collection of artist-designed t-shirts – the first ‘Lucky 13’ as they’ve come to be known at HQ. Here are but a few of them, ready to be sent to new owners. Don’t you just want to take one home? The six tees pictured below will be heading to Mali tomorrow with Andy and Lu of Brothers and Sisters – they will tell us all about their trip when they get back.warehouse We’ll tell you more about the warehouse and how these t-shirts make it from these cardboard boxes to you.

The Fableists’ Launch Date Announced!

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Thank you so much to all of you who have been following along with The Fableists as we prepare for our launch. We are thrilled to announce that we have a launch date:

Tuesday October 29th 2013

On this date, The Fableists’ web store will open and you will be able to buy our beautiful, sustainable clothing for kids online. Our ‘Lucky 13’ first t-shirts will be available as well as our first collection of clothing, including the Western Shirt, Parisienne Smock Dress, Classic Cut Jeans and Skirt and the others you have seen in our first ‘Look Book’ photos.

Be sure to ‘Like’ our Facebook page in order to be in with a chance to win a full collection of the t-shirts in your specified size (3-4, 5-6, 7-8, or 9-10).

Remember that all of the t-shirts are limited edition printings, with only 500 available of each design, so you’ll have to be quick! We will ship worldwide, so you can get your The Fableists gear in time for Christmas.

We look forward to seeing you at the grand opening!

~The Fableists

We Talk to Michael Arnold as he Works on Tees for Our Next Collection

Work by Michael Arnold

Work by Michael Arnold

Michael Arnold is a self-taught designer and illustrator. At the tender age of 21, he has established a bold, iconic style that lends itself perfectly to the fashion industry. His patterns and colours are ideal for t-shirt art and will appeal to kids as well as adults.

Michael also writes a column for the Design & Culture site called The Fox is Black.

Michael Arnold is represented by George Grace Represents.picame largest header

The Fableists > Tell us a bit about how you got in to this crazy world of art and design.
MA > Well, I left school and initially wanted to get into Graphic Design. At that point I wasn’t interested in going to University and was just eager to get started so I set up a small print shop online called ‘The How To Project’ – the aim being I would teach myself along the way whilst finding my way into the industry. After a while I realized I much preferred creating the images themselves and made the move into Illustration. I picked up a few clients here and there and started to build up a portfolio and a style – I rather ambitiously started to contact agents which is where I met George who decided after some practice he would take me on.

The Fableists > What, or who are your influences?
MA > I have quite a lot of influences but it’s never one person wholly. My main influences are artists that work quite boldly like Julian Opie and Lichtenstein – Lichtenstein did a whole series of works later on that many people aren’t as aware of as his others and I love those ones. Current artists like Kevin Lyons and Kate Moross who have been able to translate their style into many different areas and ‘canvases’ are also a great inspiration to me.

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The Fableists > Where do you live and do you take inspiration from those surroundings?
MA > I live near Cheltenham, near the River Severn (Gloucestershire, England). Generally I don’t take too much inspiration from my surroundings however these days there seems to be more of a creative vibe around here notably with the Cheltenham Design Festival which I went to during the Summer and the opening of the Cheltenham Art Museum which I’m definitely going to visit. Also, Bath Spa is quite near me and I often go to visit my sister there. They also have an awesome creative community round there.

The Fableists > What is your work process? Do you draw every day?
MA > My process is a difficult one to really nail down. It differs from project to project in terms of ideas but with illustrating it’s pretty much the same: I’ll take out my notebook and usually write the idea out rather than sketch anything, I may doodle some very rough (read: terrible) line drawings to put some shape to the words. Then I’ll take it straight to the laptop and begin blocking out shapes and colours at the same time, gradually refining and tidying and tightening areas up until I’m happy with it. For typography – that’s all hand drawn, scanned and then redrawn digitally in the same manner as my other work.

I do draw every day. I have quite a backlog of ideas already in my head so whenever I have a free moment I begin on one of those. I think it’s important to draw or design every day, I’m of the mind set that it’s similar to being a sports player – you have to practice to build up that fluency and confidence if not just for your hands then for your ability to visualise things. Malcolm Gladwell once wrote a book about having 10,000 hours of practice to be considered a master at anything – so that’s what I’m aiming for.

Michael Arnold's First Design for The Fableists

Michael Arnold’s First Design for The Fableists

The Fableists > Your designs for The Fableists are already proving very popular with our team. What was the inspiration behind them?

MA > Well, after being given the new tagline which is ‘Play Hard, Live Forever’ it made me think of that ‘Live Fast’ phrase that was associated with bikers and rebellious youth! I played around with the type first as I knew that I wanted the ‘Live Forever’ part to be illustrated in a script like style – the kind you might see on a biker patch. From that it sort of clicked and the image of a biker with a Wind-Up key came to mind, the idea then leant itself to series with other wind-up toys that could be illustrated in the same manner.

The trickiest part was creating the humour in it, balancing out the reality of the motorbike being a child’s toy with the fantasy of it riding into the sunset. It was as much for the children to enjoy as it was for their parents to appreciate. A throw back if you will!

The Fableists > Which is your favourite t-shirt from The Fableists’ first collection and why?
MA > I really like Crispin Finn’s Dress Good design, it’s one of those ideas that’s so simple and makes you jealous you didn’t think of it. In terms of design I feel it’s strong enough to stand on it’s own but subtle enough to be able to work with the other collared shirts and clothes you have to offer.

The Fableists > What do you think about The Fableists’ mission to make sustainable clothing for kids?
MA > I think it’s great. There are so few interesting companies that involve the kids themselves in the ideals of the company. Most children aren’t aware of how their clothes are made and the brands that try to educate them often come out as preaching to them – and in most cases in a way the kids won’t understand. I think there’s a fine line between creating something that will make kids aware whilst making something they will wear. That was quite pithy! I think you’ve nailed it.

I love the Look Book you’ve shot as well. It captures the mission perfectly, I think!opumo 2 small800

The Fableists > How do you hope that kids will see your t-shirt designs?
MA > I hope they’ll see it how I see it – as an image that gets their imagination going. When illustrating it I tried to strike that balance of how a child would see those toys in their imagination – the bike with the sunset cruising down the highway but at the same time not taking it too seriously. I hope they’ll get a feel of wanting to go on adventures with it on.

The Fableists > Can you tell us about one of your favourite pieces of work you’ve done? What was it for and what was it?
MA > My favourite piece so far was a pattern I designed for shoe company Bucketfeet. It’s finally going into production this spring and I’ve been able to see some product shots of the samples they had made it looks amazing. As an illustrator the best thing in the world is seeing something you’ve made on a screen become physical. Getting a shoe made was one of my dream jobs and I’ve been able to cross that off a lot sooner than I imagined.

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Some More Shots from The Fableists Look Book

Jhango in The Fableists' Breton Top while Amelie is wearing the Denim Skirt, Western Shirt and 'Made to Wear Well' Tee

Jhango in The Fableists’ Breton Top while Amelie is wearing the Denim Skirt, Western Shirt and ‘Made to Wear Well’ Tee by Crispin Finn

A few more of Sam Robinson‘s shots for our first collection Look Book. The t-shirts will be available on our web site in a couple of weeks and the rest of the collection will be out later in the autumn.

Sonny is wearing the 'Make Art Not War' Tee by Anthony Peters

Sonny is wearing the ‘Make Art Not War’ Tee by Anthony Peters

Henry is wearing the Classic Jeans and French Chore Coat in Taupe with the 'Wear Me Out' tee by Anthony Peters

Henry is wearing the Classic Jeans and French Chore Coat in Taupe with the ‘Wear Me Out’ tee by Anthony Peters

Missy wears Classic Jeans and the Western Shirt

Missy wears Classic Jeans and the Western Shirt

Apache in 'You Are What You Wear' Tee by Gregori Saavedra and the Western Shirt

Apache in ‘You Are What You Wear’ Tee by Gregori Saavedra and the Western Shirt

Sophia in 'Recycle' Tee by Sami Viljanto

Sophia in ‘Recycle’ Tee by Sami Viljanto

More great shots to come!

Some of Sam Robinson’s Shots of The Fableists’ First Collection

D’Ahngo is wearing the Parisienne Smock Dress

Jhango is wearing the Parisienne Smock Dress

Photographer Sam Robinson has gone and made our clothes look really fab on some amazing kids who we roped in to modelling for our first ever series of looks. We’ve told you a bit about our locations and what we got up to but we can now reveal the results.

D’Ahngo is wearing the Smock Top and Denim Skirt, Sonny is sporting the 'Dress Good' Tee and Apache is in the Western Shirt, Classic Jeans and 'You Are What You Wear' Tee

Jhango is wearing the Smock Top and Denim Skirt, Sonny is sporting the ‘Dress Good’ Tee and Apache is in the Western Shirt, Classic Jeans and ‘You Are What You Wear’ Tee

Amelie is wearing Breton Top, Classic Jeans and Chore Coat in Blue

Amelie is wearing Breton Top, Classic Jeans and Chore Coat in Blue with Vejas

Smock Top and Denim Skirt on Mimi and Classic Jeans, 'Tough but Fair' Tee and Western Shirt on Missy

Smock Top and Denim Skirt on Mimi and Classic Jeans, ‘Tough but Fair’  Tee and Western Shirt on Missy

Apache is wearing the Classic Jeans with Baseball Shirt and Veja shoes

Apache is wearing the Classic Jeans with Baseball Shirt and Veja shoes

Missy is in the Classic Jeans and Western Shirt

Missy is in the Classic Jeans and Western Shirt

Outfit as Above

Outfit as Above

The Gang of Fableists

The Gang of Fableists

Credits:

Photographer: Sam Robinson (sam-robinson.com)
Photographers Assistant: Ross Brind
Retouching: The Laundry Room (thelaundryroomlondon.com)
Fashion Stylist: Jenna Riddle
Props Stylist – Gemma Pharo
Props Assistant – Nadia Tahari
Brothers & Sisters Producer – Lu Howlett
Brothers & Sisters Creative – Liz Moss

Thanks to:

Veja for the loan of shoes
Rachel Lincoln @ Netil House
Kat Sinclair (facepaint/makeup artist)
Djamila Hocini @ A+R
Shervorn & Cara @ The Laundry Room
Laura Vent @ Wicca

Our Photo Shoot Locations

The kids getting some direction from photographer Sam Robinson

The kids getting some direction from photographer Sam Robinson

Last week, fashion photographer Sam Robinson took us on a journey in London. He shot around 5,000 images for The Fableists’ first look book. We’ve seen the untouched pictures and they are amazing. We are so excited to reveal some of them to you on our web site, which is launching in two weeks!

In the meantime, here is a taste of what we got up to.

Victoria Park Skate Park

Victoria Park Skate Park

We got the kids together for a few group shots

Victoria Park

Victoria Park

And then the kids got a chance to run around and explore, while the clothes took a real beating!

The Fableists as Superheroes

The Fableists as Superheroes

We then took to the rooftop of Netil House, with great views over London and some open spaces for running races and obstacles for climbing on and jumping off.

Netil House, London

Netil House, London

Finally, we were in a kitchen in Islington for some messy sandwich making and lots of laughs.

Kitchen Scenes

Kitchen Scenes

Big thanks to everyone involved, especially Sam Robinson and his assistants Ross Brind and Ben Deamer. The team at Brothers and Sisters, under the leadership of Lu Howlett pulled off a great day and the kids really want to mention stylist Jenna Riddle, who was a big hit!

You’ll hear more from some of these people soon.

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

As Promised ~ Behold the T-Shirts Designed by Crispin Finn

'Dress Good' by Crispin Finn for The Fableists

‘Dress Good’ by Crispin Finn for The Fableists

Here they are! Design duo Crispin Finn have created some terrific, limited edition t-shirt for our first line of clothing. These t-shirts will be available from July 2013 on our web site.

'Made Strong to Last Long' in grey by Crispin Finn for The Fableists

‘Made Strong to Last Long’ in grey by Crispin Finn for The Fableists

Read our interview with Crispin Finn to find out what makes them tick! The tees themselves are made of GOTS certified organic cotton. They are made for kids, not by kids.

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

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