STACEY WOOD - king & tuckfield
Stacey Wood founder of King & Tuckfield honours her family history whilst remaining focused on building a contemporary premium denim brand, a brand that promotes craftsmanship and heritage.
Simple yet significant. Elegant but down to earth. Rich with history yet modern. King & Tuckfield exemplifies what it means to be a great British brand.
Having studied fashion at university and later working in wholesale and distribution launching leading denim and contemporary brands, Stacey has created a strong foundation on which to build King & Tuckfield.
Maintaining respected relationships with the people making King & Tuckfield’s garments, caring about the craft of production, in Blackhorse Lane Ateliers and overseas factories is extremely important to the brand.
King & Tuckfield choose to place emphasis on the slow fashion movement rather than being known as a sustainable or ethical fashion brand, which although they don’t shout about it, they are ethical and care about sustainability.
If you want to know more about why brands don’t want to be know as an ethical/sustainable take a look at our editorial ‘why brands don't promote they are ethical’.
We caught up with Stacey for an in-depth discussion, below is a condensed version of our chat (as our entire discussion would perhaps be too long of a read, next time we’ll do a podcast!).
JMH Can you tell us about the brand’s story and importance of your family history to the brand?
SW King & Tuckfield is an amalgamation of the names of my grandmother and Father. Provenance and continuity are important for King & Tuckfield, not only in the brand name and that the story is inspired by the personal lives of my grandmother and Father, but also our manufacturing where we keep a firm eye on the past – the slow movement of fashion and how things used to be made. For me it’s important for people to be able to connect to their own story, their own history, before it’s too late and that story can no longer be told. It’s a blessing to be able to find out about who you are and where you come from.
JMH What role does ballet play in King & Tuckfield?
SW My grandmother was a ballet dancer and taught dance, my mother was a ballet dancer and my father was a ballet dancer from the age of 7 which was very rare in that kind of era. For us ballet is really important, we translate this through really subtle detail; merino body suits with key hole backs, pink line rigid selvedge denim instead of using a red line, wrap detailing through the collection.
JMH How is the 1950’s important to King & Tuckfield?
SW We take a lot of reference from the 50’s as it was really the hay day of our family history. We mix things together, say the elegance of what my grandmother was wearing but then she’d also be holding a pint of Guinness. Or my father who was working down the mines but then he also had a Rolls Royce. Elegance but with down to earth twist.
JMH What affect did the class system have on your father’s position in the mines and Second World War?
SW My father worked as a Bevin Boy during the Second World War, as working down the mines was seen as a reserve, so due to his age he didn’t have to fight. When he was old enough he swapped identities with his cousin and became a paratrooper at the age of 16. I don’t think the class system was something that affected him. He was never classed as someone poor, his father was a train driver. People worked down the mines even after the war as the pay was so good.
JMH Can you tell us a bit more about why you enjoy living, working and producing your premium denim in East London?
SW I think there is such a mix of different people and different companies in East London, and everyone works together within their community. I feel like East London is a big community and people love the fact that they are from East London. If anyone asks where I live, I don’t say London I say East London, if they ask where are you from, I say I’m from East Yorkshire.
One of the main reasons we work with Blackhorse Lane is because they opened their doors at the same time as we launched King & Tuckfield. We wanted a certain artisan within our jeans, we didn’t want it pushed through big production lines and wanted to make sure that every single stitch was right, with a tailoring handwriting. And if we needed to go to the factory and change the needles or sit with the machinists and make sure everything was done in a perfect way we were able to do that. So it was really good that we were the first production line through their factory.
The look of our jeans you can really see. We don’t have a lot of branding, but if someone's wearing a pair of our jeans you can really tell just from how they are made (that they are ours). Which is amazing, and that just proves that there is a of skill within the UK, there’s a lot of care and dedication going into making that one pair of jeans.
JMH Where does King & Tuckfield sit within the cult of denim?
SW I’d like to fit somewhere in the middle. We have our purist denim geeks who are a real fan of the brand because we use 14oz denim across men’s and women’s. It has the pink selvedge which we get specially made and flown in from Japan. We then make it in Blackhorse Lane in the UK. I’d never use stretch denim, I’ve ever been a fan of or wanted in my own collection. I think for us it is all about the quality, the history, that piece of history that one pair of jeans can make. How personal it is to the person wearing the product. That particular jean will only wear on that one person in that one way and it will never be the same as anybody else's. It has it’s own unique history, it’s own personality.
JMH Do you think the future is bright for the next generation of machinists?
SW I have great respect for the history and craft of the garments, it’s a true skill and should be admired. I think now especially with people like Blackhorse Lane people are starting to understand that manufacturing is a craft and a skill and the younger generations are starting to respect this.
JMH Can you tell us about your inspiration, aesthetic and how this also translates to sizes?
SW We don’t follow trends, we take inspiration from old family photographs, exhibitions, architecture, where we are in Brick Lane, the mix of modern and old. We visit mills to see what they are doing which can really influence our colour palette for that season.
Our styling is rather androgynous and fits a number of different shapes and sizes. With our jeans we currently offer in our most popular sizes however if there was a demand of the larger sizes we would definitely look into this.
JMH Where is your knitwear made?
SW All our knitwear is made in Shanghai. We work with this really nice family run knitwear factory. We have tried to get it made in the UK but the quality from Shanghai is made to last.
JMH You also work with factories in Portugal, how has that been for you?
SW Again we work with very small factories. A few people have asked how do you get your deliveries on time (Portugal is know for being late to deliver) and we’re always shocked when people say that because our deliveries are always on time, we have great relationships with the factories.
JMH Is it important to you that the factories are audited?
SW All the factories we work with are audited. We believe it’s important for us to take care of the environment, work ethically and do our best to ensure the best possible processes. We visit every single factory and mill, it’s easier to control and have visibility when you’re a small business. We don’t shout about it but our merino is sustainable and we are working towards making King & Tuckfield as sustainable as we can.
JMH You work with denim and merino wool, can you tell us a bit more about why you chose merino?
SW We follow our merino from farm to factory to shop, so we know every single process of our merino. It’s machine washable, sustainably sourced and non mulesed. We use merino because it fits with our story (because it's worn under army uniform) we felt it was under appreciated and under utilised within the fashion industry especially for basics, such as t-shirt shapes.
JMH What’s next for King & Tuckfield?
SW We want to solidify our look within the UK market. We’ve only been in the market a year, but we’ve just finished designing our 5th collection and now on to the 6th. From our online platform we can see which parts of the world people are buying the product and we plan to expand into these areas. For us it’s about growing the business slowly and organically, focusing on sustainability, strong craftsmanship and the slow movement of fashion, and to make a cultural change in the world.