Small Scale Production. Heritage. Made in England.
In the words of the founders:
"We are North London Construction, a creative studio founded by Lauren Wallace and Rob Crook.
Focusing and combining our creative energies has enabled us to build our own playground. Within it we formed Collection 1.0, presented as a single garment in a series of four prints, each an original hand painted piece.
Over time we will extend our collections, carefully constructing a range of pieces that embody our philosophies. Built with conviction and introspection, at the heart of our work is attention always to form, print and colour. From this perspective, we allow curiosity to determine design. We can't wait to see where it takes us next."
The NLC Manifesto:
01 Articulate curiosity into form.
02 Construct a reality that is beautiful and honest without being wasteful.
03 Choose consciously and with conviction.
04 Build a relationship with the objects around you.
We sat down with Creative Director Lauren to ask her more about the brand:
What inspired you to set up North London Construction?
Rob and I have had a slightly unorthodox entry into the fashion industry! We met through mutual friends many years back when I had just graduated from an Art History and Philosophy degree and Rob was studying Computer Science. After we’d both spent a number of years building our careers, me in print design at Liberty - the iconic London print house - and Rob in the tech industry, we both had aspirations of starting something for ourselves.
Following many after work conversations in the kitchen of the North London flat we share, over glasses of wine and a mutual lack of satisfaction in our jobs, we realized the things we could individually bring to the table complimented each other perfectly. And this is what led us to found N.L.C.
We’re working to build a company that’s sustainable, agile and flexible. For now we are focused on clothing, but we’re excited to see where our creativity takes us next (lockdown has given me plenty of time to explore my ceramics obsession!) What will stay constant throughout though is that print, form, colour, and sustainability will always be at the core of our brand.
Tell us a bit about the production process - where is the collection designed and made and by who?
Our garments are designed, printed and produced within a few counties in the South of England. We keep mileage low, and the garments pass through as few hands as possible. Those that do have a part in the process are talented, specialist artisans that we are proud to work with. I design the garments and the prints by hand in London. My background in Art History has given me an understanding of when and how certain movements develop and influence each other, and this has created a bit of a framework for how I approach designing the collections. I start to gather ideas and in piecing them together I begin to see the common thread to all the source material – it could be a specific era or a particular artist’s style or an approach to a certain medium. In my research for collection 1.0 for example, the running thread appeared to me to be the Northern Renaissance - Still Life compositions, vanitas and transience. By spending time developing the pattern for the Fisherman Trousers we have ensured that there is very minimal fabric wastage. Our garments are now made in small batches to match demand, following a few months of pre-orders, so we will never over produce.
What materials do you use and why?
The fabric we use for our first collection is 100% silk twill, all natural fibers that flow and drape in the most beautiful way. As we grow we are looking to introduce new fabrics that bring something different to the table. I’m currently experimenting with using more rigid, structured fabrics such as beautiful Japanese denims and heavy outerwear blends that give a really interesting sculptural feel, something that is a complete contrast from the soft fluid drape of the silk versions. For us it’s all about maximising everything we can from each element, nothing is wasted and that includes reusing and reworking the garment patterns and the prints in different ways, so they work for different purposes. We move slow at N.L.C!
Why is sustainability important to your brand?
In searching for the best form that our creativity could take - whether it was in fashion, art, objects or interiors - ultimately the long term goal has always been to create the piece that best showcases our prints. The Fisherman Trouser that we have launched with was the end point in many months of prototyping. The brand stands for creative expression, pride in quality and a statement in creating items deliberately and with intent. Which is exactly how we want people to approach buying, mindfully and consciously.
Sustainability for us means buying with intention, knowing where your objects come from. It’s reusing, fixing what you already have and adding carefully. Brands need to emphasise and encourage this, not push a never-ending cycle of trends that is impossible to keep up with. We as a society need to feel connected to the things we own and be proud of our buying choices. Soon it will go from being an added bonus to being a prerequisite for brands to acknowledge and prove their sustainability, building a brand in 2020 can’t be done without tackling it as best you can. Everyone being 100% perfect all of the time isn’t necessarily the goal right now, but everyone making steps and being more mindful is. Between Rob and I we have the conversation at every stage of growing our business, asking what we can do to make this better so it stays at the forefront of every decision we make.
Greenwashing is a real concern and we don’t want to make claims we can’t live up to. We aren’t claiming to be perfect, we’re trying to do what we can and say what we can in a noisy place. We believe that changing the conversation around consumption is the most impactful thing we can do at this stage, and beyond that we will continue to produce our garments as mindfully and sustainably as we can.