Boutiques such as The House of Beauty and Culture and World’s End have championed this young British talent by offering a platform for experimentation unavailable at corporate retailers.
And now London designer Nasir Mazhar is seeking to shun all things mass production with Fantastic Toiles: a community of alternative London designers whose voices aren’t being heard in the wider fashion industry.
Setting his sights on bridging the gap between designers, artists and consumers interested in new ideas, the space – in London’s fashionable Forest Gate – will become home to outside-the-box talents that refuse to conform.
Featuring works by Max Allen, Ed Marler, Claire Barrow, Ed Curtis, Princess Julia, Nazifa Begum and Skipdin, Fantastic Toiles celebrates designers who create clothes, headwear, zines and jewellery for the love of it rather than to generate orders.
“Fantastic Toiles is a dressing up box filled with rare oddities,” the gaffer told us. “It’s a place for like minded people to explore style and a call to arms for designers. I want to show an allegiance with the designers, artists and clubs I feel are truly at the heart and soul of London whilst helping customers to find something really amazing to wear to the club!”
Why was it important to you to launch Fantastic Toiles?
I wanted to create a shop where you can come and find all sorts of weird and beautiful clothes and bits to decorate yourself in. I want to try and find a way for independent designers to show and sell their work where it suits them and their needs, so we can work to our own creative rhythm rather than an industry schedule which is based around commercial sales. There are so many interesting designers around us that don’t necessarily do big collections or sell wholesale but are so imaginative and making amazing things. Fantastic Toiles is about offering people something alternative to what they get in most fashion boutiques.
What’s missing from other independent boutiques?
A lot of boutiques feel so corporate; they’re missing clothes with soul. Fantastic Toiles is about being fresh-off the sewing machine and onto the rack. One-offs most likely made by the designers themselves.
Where did you find the artists and designers?
They are all people I know and admire. Friends, collaborators, students from CSM and Westminster college and clubs and record labels that friends run. Past teachers of mine. It’s a wide mix.
What do they all have in common?
They’re all rebels. They’re independent and progressive thinkers. They don’t follow rules. They care about style and they are into craft. They are makers. For me they are the heart and soul of London. The people at the clubs, running the clubs, dressing the artists, collaborators working together. They are all like minded people that I have the utmost respect for because they do what they feel like doing. They are all leaders.
What kind of stuff can people expect to find in the shop?
Original toiles, recycled and chopped together shirts, hand printed tights, a zine that’s captured the incredible raw nasty energy of London nightlife, beautiful hand-painted watercolour tarot cards, foam sculptures, corsets, lots of textiles, historical headwear, industrial jewellery, original artworks, costumes… There’s loads of stuff.
How do you see it growing in the future ?
The way I see it moving forward for independent designers is designer co-ops. Shops owned and run by designers. Boutiques are needed and do a really good job of selling you industry fashion but there needs to be a variety of ways for designers to show and sell. Not everyone wants to produce seasonal collections several times a year. We need variety to suit the variety of designers we have and we need to set examples so young designers can see that there are other options to just having a wholesale business and showing at fashion week. Power in numbers is unstoppable.
Fantastic Toiles, a shop curated by Nasir Mazar, opens Saturday 14 September at Railway Arch 434, Avenue Road, Forest Gate, London. It’s cash only.