2010 July 28
Summer Designer Series: Preen
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(NEW YORK) After a brief hiatus, The Daily’s Summer Designer Series is back! This week’s subject: Preen, the 14-year-old London-based line from Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi. The Daily chatted with Thornton about the couple's rumored kid’s line (yep, it’s on!), their multi-culti inspirations, and their darling, almost-two-year-old daughter, Fauve.
How are you spending your summer?
We’re busy working, I’m afraid! We work right through August. We did go to Egypt a bit ago, which was nice, and have spent some time in the British countryside. The weather’s been wonderful here. We were just in Somerset for a friend’s wedding, but now we’re so busy at work.
What’s this we’ve been hearing about a Preen kid’s line?
It started with something we did with Vogue.co.uk; we said we’d love to do a children’s line. There’s no launch date, we haven’t designed it yet, but it’s definitely in the work.s We’re thinking Mini Preen.
You’ve shown menswear in the past. What’s going on with that?
We haven’t done it in a while. We used to do both men’s and women’s, and then we launched our second line for women’s wear, and menswear got put on hold. We’d like to re-launch it eventually.
How would you describe the difference between Preen and Preen Line?
Preen Line is edgy, cool, accessible—it’s got all those cool, easy Sunday pieces: everyday pants, cool jackets, easy leather pieces, and a few relaxed, easy pieces. Preen Collection is obviously the catwalk collection, and it’s much more about evening and tailoring, with more high-end fabrics, like beautiful wool and chiffons. Preen Line was always part of Preen. We always had our staples, all these great easy pieces that people lived in. But as the main collection became more dress-driven—more cocktail dresses, sort of playing with the new modern red carpet dress---we wanted to make it easier to understand. If you think of it like a department store, Preen is in the designer department, Preen Line is in the contemporary department.
Where are they both produced?
It kind of depends on what it is. Some knits and leathers are done in India, some tailoring is done in Italy, and we have a lot that’s produced in the UK.
Is it hard for you to work out of London but show in New York?
No, it’s great. We love that. We love London because we live here; it’s our city. But New York is an amazing city, and showing there has been brilliant for our business. It’s really more of an international platform. Since we’ve been showing there, our business has doubled.
You’ve been in business for nearly 15 years.
How would you describe how you’ve grown?
We’ve grown very steadily, carefully, at our own pace. We very much work on instinct and what feels right. We’ve been self-funded. When we started it was so small, we weren’t even doing runway shows. But we’ve built steadily and slowly, were approached to expand, and the shows have gained momentum. We really started to take it seriously. Obviously now we’re in a much bigger studio, we have a lot more staff. Our future plans are to expand to be a full brand, with accessories, menswear, children’s clothes—a brand.
What do you do when you don't want to think about fashion?
We have a cottage in Suffolk, on the east coast of England. It’s a lovely cottage in a tiny village with one little pub—there’s no cell reception, so it’s perfect to escape to.
What’s inspiring you now?
We’re always really inspired by art and music and culture. We’re kind of being inspired by a minimal aesthetic at the moment: clean lines, architectural silhouettes. The weather’s been so lovely lately, so the way light reflects on buildings—which is strong, but quite organic. It really depends on our mood each day.
What have you been listening to lately?
[After consulting Thea.] Kings of Leon…but that’s not such inspiring music. [Thea chimes in on the line: “Maybe—it all goes in!”]
I ask because you two have had such specific inspirations behind your collections in the past, like the cover art from a Joy Division album.
When we start a collection, we have seven or eight different inspirations. It’s kind of chaotic in a way, these opposing themes, and as we get closer three or four get passed by the wayside and the collection gets much more focused.
What can you tell us about your Spring 2011 collection?
Its always a journey, a continuation from the last show. This one is softer and more feminine. We’re looking at really delicate fabrics—it’s pretty, feminine, a summery, light attitude.
For Fall, you worked with Savile Row tailors Gieves and Hawkes. Any more tailoring planned for spring?
Yes, we’re planning to work on tailoring again, but it will be lighter, less sharp.
How’s your little girl?
She’s amazing. She’s singing and dancing and performing—she’s full of energy. We went to a wedding over the weekend, and I think it was the best day of her life on the dance floor!
Does she hang out in the studio while you’re working?
She likes to sit in our assistant Karen’s chair, which spins. So she spins around. And she likes to draw on the Post-its.
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