For those unfamiliar with Campbell Cole, what does the brand stand for?
We have been designing accessories for under the name Campbell Cole for almost 10 years now. The ethos behind the brand is ‘simple timeless design’, so when we are designing a new product, we always question whether the aesthetic and quality will stand the test of time. Then underlying everything we do is a respect for everyone involved. Every person in our supply chain deserves respect and to be treated well, from the people we buy our materials from, to the makers, our photographer, the person that packs our orders, the guy that collects our post, all the way through to our wonderful customers.
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Utility, quality and sustainablity are firmly embed within your design ethos; how do you go about selecting which materials to use for your products?
Which materials and where we buy them from are a very important and one of the most challenging parts of our development process. There is not one set way we source them. Fabric and leather trade shows are held for the fashion industry every 6 months and we have visited quite a few, so have plenty of swatch cards in our studio for reference that we have gathered over the years. We also often make contacts through recommendations by word of mouth.
Our leather is vegetable tanned in Tuscany, Italy and comes from a tannery that is a member of the Genuine Italian Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium, which monitors standards of production to ensure a high quality article with low impact on the environment. It took us years to find a leather that has these ethical standards whilst also having the look and feel that we wanted. It’s a beautiful leather, so I’m sure we’ll continue using it for years to come.
We have a couple of bags in development now and sourcing the fabric is the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle. We have sampled the bags in house and they look great but we are still hunting down the right fabric to use for them. Finding the right weight, finish, colours and ethical standards can at times feel quite daunting but it will be worth the time it takes as when we’ve found something we’re happy with, we tend to stick with it for a long time.
Your products are all made with great consideration and durable, high quality materials. Do you think people have a greater appreciation for things like this now?
I hope so. It seems to be a time when customers are walking away from the big retailers that have been churning out seemingly endless meaningless ‘stuff’ for years and becoming far more interested in great product made by highly skilled individual makers or from brands run by people with a real purpose and good conscience. The world doesn’t need more ‘stuff’, we need to appreciate and invest in the good things in life.
It would be difficult to summarise the last 18 months, it’s been very up and down for everyone. How’s it been for you?
It’s been a rollercoaster that’s for sure. I think everyone has found it really tough and we’ve been no exception. We’ve desperately missed seeing friends and family but we have been lucky to be able to continue to work and keep our online business running throughout. Plus, our baby was born in November, just before the second lockdown, which was amazing for us so you’re right there’s definitely been ups and downs, and we’re so glad to see everything opening up again now.
Have recent events made you think differently about what Campbell Cole is and what you’d like it to be moving forward?
Campbell Cole is all about appreciating the simple things, which feels more relevant now than ever. One thing we have really missed this year is seeing people in real life. Our priority over the next couple of months is finishing off our studio (in Beeston, Nottingham) so we can run pop-ups in the space. We love our far-reaching online community but can’t wait to open the doors and invite local people in to see us and our products in real life.
We have been playing around with the design of a bi-fold wallet for years but never quite got it right. The samples have always felt too big and clunky. When the new smaller £20 polymer bank note was introduced last year, it gave us the opportunity to revisit the bi-fold and finally make it as slim and compact as we wanted. We are really proud of the Elm Compact Wallet and I think it will be a core style for us for years to come.
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Over the next few weeks, we will be getting the studio in shape for our pop-ups, there will be a photo shoot, as well as always dipping into new product development. We are finalising some woolly hats which we can’t wait to share this winter as they are so soft and cosy. Beyond that we are working on a couple of new bags, so lots to look forward to.