La­bel to know: BLOUSE

Of­fer­ing gen­der-neu­tral shirts for a new fash­ion era, Ge­of­frey J. Finch’s new brand has been a whirl­wind success

ELLE (UK) - - Mood Board - BIBBY SOWRAY Words by

‘It’s all hap­pened so quickly,’ says Ge­of­frey J. Finch of his new la­bel, Blouse. That’s some­thing of an un­der­state­ment, he started work­ing on his line ‘in earnest’ this March, and by mid June it was stocked ex­clu­sively by Match­es­Fash­ion.com. But then Blouse, which does ex­actly what it says on the tin, isn’t your aver­age fledg­ling la­bel.

Finch has been a fash­ion main­stay for the past decade. He ar­rived in Lon­don from his na­tive Toowoomba, Aus­tralia, in 2004 and be­gan work­ing at Soho bou­tique An­tipodium. Two years later, he and the store’s founder Ashe Pea­cock launched a la­bel named af­ter the store; and de­spite his lack of for­mal train­ing, Finch be­came cre­ative di­rec­tor. It be­came some­thing of a cult brand, loved for its witty prints and cheeky pop-cul­ture ref­er­ences, with fans in­clud­ing Alexa Chung. In 2013, he got the call to join Topshop as cre­ative de­sign con­sul­tant, and left An­tipodium the fol­low­ing year.

His new ven­ture was born in­stinc­tively. ‘I kept on com­ing back to a feel­ing that re­minded me of work­ing in a shop when I was 18 on a Satur­day morn­ing,’ he says. ‘It wasn’t a very good shop, so you had to work pretty hard. It was re­ally about be­ing in­tu­itive and dis­tinc­tive and quite hu­man – and that feels like the right ap­proach for fash­ion now.’

That feel­ing has trans­lated into what he calls ‘a cat­e­gory busi­ness for a new era’ that fo­cuses on three core pieces: the shirt, the T-shirt and the shirt dress. ‘Take the Ge­orge shirt, for ex­am­ple: it’s a man’s shirt in blue, the ar­che­typal busi­ness­man sta­ple. But it has a dis­lo­cated col­lar and cuff, and Cluny lace in­serted in the side seam and across the pocket,’ he ex­plains. ‘It’s reimag­in­ing things in a mod­ern way.’

But why the em­pha­sis on shirts and their de­riv­a­tives? ‘I was sketch­ing one day and think­ing how it was 10 years since the first An­tipodium col­lec­tion and I’m still sketch­ing shirt dresses, which was a sta­ple of An­tipodium. Times change and aes­thet­ics evolve, but fun­da­men­tally they stay the same.’

The tight fo­cus will re­main, but ad­di­tional pieces, such as semi-struc­tured blaz­ers and pos­si­bly denim, will be added with each bi-monthly, in-sea­son drop. It also means the en­tire col­lec­tion is uni­sex. ‘You look at the way sex­u­al­ity is ac­cepted now and it’s rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent to what I grew up with, and that’s some­thing to be cel­e­brated,’ says Finch.

Ev­ery piece is man­u­fac­tured in Lon­don, and many in­cor­po­rate fab­ric from Cluny Lace in Der­byshire and Roger Wat­son Laces in Not­ting­hamshire, which pro­duced tex­tiles for the Duchess of Cam­bridge and Diana, Princess of Wales’ wedding dresses re­spec­tively. ‘Go­ing to see [Cluny Lace’s] fac­tory is amaz­ing; you have these huge, greasy, noisy ma­chines from the Thir­ties manned by gruff dudes, but spit­ting out very del­i­cate lace,’ says Finch. The prove­nance of pro­duc­tion adds an in­tegrity to the brand.

Blouse is a la­bel that’s re­spond­ing to fash­ion’s cur­rent sense of flux, and do­ing it with feel­ing. ‘It’s im­por­tant for things to have heart,’ he says. ‘I hope that comes through to the con­sumer, that they can see that some­one’s re­ally thought about some­thing.’

Cot­ton tar­tan

shirt with Cluny tulle,

£375,

BLOUSE

BLOUSE AW17 : THE DE­TAILS

Silk crepe shirt with vel­vet trim, £425, cot­ton ging­ham shirt dress, £295, both BLOUSE

Silk crepe shirt dress with Cluny lace trim, £750, BLOUSE

Po­plin shirt with lace trim, £325, BLOUSE

Ge­orge shirt, £325, BLOUSE

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