“ What you wear says a lot about who you are and where you’re from” — a simple statement that informs the ethos of King Tuckfield. While a fair number of today’s independent brands are looking towards the future, Stacey Wood looks to her past, with a brand built around the history and heritage of her family.
King and Tuckfield is an amalgamation of the names of her grandmother and her father - Joan Marion King and Graham Aubrey Tuckfield. Historical pioneers who balanced their industrial lives with the art and flourish of ballet; and have inspired the womens and menswear collections respectively. Every thoughtful detail rings back to some age-old tradition, forgotten in this age of fast fashion and even faster lifestyles. You won’t find a shred of polyester in any King & Tuckfield garment, everything is made in only the finest fabrics and with an artisanal flair. All of the denim is produced in BlackHorse Lane in Walthamstow, also Joan King’s birthplace a tribute to Britain’s manufacturing history. Here, there is a deep love and dedication to the slow yet rewarding process of getting things right — resulting in a brand that breathes both sincerity and faultless style.
Tell us about yourself and your background, where did your interest in fashion comefrom?
Ever since I was a child, I have always looked up to people with style. They stood apart from me and seemed to have an aura of beauty: my grandmother with her rebellious elegance, my eldest sister with her stone-washed Levis, and my father who had both great taste and a beguiling grace — perhaps part due to his background as a ballet dancer.
Before launching King & Tuckfield, you spent over 10 years working in the industry. What inspired you to branch out and start your own brand?
Having my own brand has always been something that I wanted, so I carved my career within the industry to get to the point where I am today. Learning, developing, and building a network was key. I wanted an alternative to throw-away fashion, something for people to cherish and have a history with. Our clothes are inspired by the colourful stories of my own family history, and that is really important. The more you wear one of our garments, the more history it creates.
King & Tuckfield is a combination of your Grandmother and Father’s names. How important is your own family history to the philosophy of your brand?
Family history is key to our brand and everything we do is linked to this. My grandmother King, was a ballet teacher from the East End of London back in the 1940s and is the inspiration behind the elegant yet tough womenswear collection. My father Tuckfield, was a soldier in the British Army, a Yorkshire mineworker, and also a ballet dancer — has inspired the tough and practical look of the menswear range.
We use only 100% Merino Wool (not cotton or polyester) for our t-shirts, as wool base layers were worn under military uniforms during the war. We use denim as a reference to my father’s mining years, and then pink line selvedge as both my grandmother and father were ballet dancers. Even our colour palettes are inspired by old family photographs.
Looking back at it now, what was the biggest challenge you’ve had to face launching King & Tuckfield in 2016?
We’ve faced several challenges along the way; and like any new business will continue to be challenged. Trying to persuade factories to work with us on smaller manufacturing quantities is especially difficult, but it is something that we will not compromise on. We believe the makeup of our collection is more important than the fast turn-around of product. Cash flow, as is the case for all new businesses, is tough. For the last two years I have also been working full-time to support the business; and juggling managing my own business with working as Head of Womenswear for a distribution company is especially challenging.
“What you wear says a lot about who you are and where you come from” is the first statement that greets you upon entering the world of King & Tuckfield. In what ways does this philosophy influence your design aesthetic?
For us, this statement rings very true to our brand. We believe that being exposed to new experiences at a young age, as well as the influence of your surroundings and the people around you, have a huge part to play in our lives and style. I’ve built a brand on the two people who have majorly shaped and influenced my life, not just from a stylistic point of view, but also from a work ethic and integrity point of view.
How would you describe King & Tuckfield? What do you think differentiates you from other independent brands today?
King & Tuckfield is a brand that tells stories. The professions, clothes, and lives of two real people have significantly influenced our collections. Our hope for the brand is to become part of a new generation of memories as our pieces are worn day-in and day-out.
Our story differentiates us from other brands and how we link everything back to our heritage. We have built a network of like-minded people who can connect to our story and understand that the nostalgia of how things used to be — is integral to the ethos of our brand.
What inspired you to make the decision to have all the denim in the collection produced in Walthamstow’s Blackhorse Lane Ateliers? In your opinion, what is it about the made-in-England label that makes it so special?
We decided to make our denim styles in the Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, as everything we do links back to our ever-unfolding narrative. My grandmother grew up in Walthamstow; and Blackhorse Lane opened its doors around the same time we were looking for a British denim manufacturer — so it seemed natural that we collaborate with them. We were their first bulk order (excluding their own brand). The Made-in-the-UK label is very important for us, as our story originates here.
We are keen for our heritage to become an integral part, or better yet, the very essence of our product; hoping that our customers will connect deeper with their own family histories as well. Therefore, aside from the commercial advantages of manufacturing in the UK, there is a lot of brand value in its home-grown background and English provenance, which ultimately offers a unique selling point on a global scale. Blackhorse Lane has a certain expertise and an artisanal approach to things they produce. This is perfect for our brand, as it’s important that each item is carefully crafted with as much love and care as we have for our own story and heritage.
What are you working on now? What can we expect from you and King & Tuckfield in 2017?
We are currently selling our AW17 collection, where we continue to cement our signature look. A luxury led wardrobe of contemporary staples, but leaning towards a mid-century twist. We are also growing the business slowly and organically; choosing our European and International partners with both care and consideration. We are aiming to make more of our products in the UK to support British trade and growth — we are very excited for 2017.
Finally, how do you think creatives like yourself are changing the face of London Fashion?
I firmly believe in working closely with UK manufacturers, and using local craftsmen and skills. With the increase of other designers, brands, and creatives doing the same; we can slowly re-build the UK manufacturing industry. The consumer will then align their mind-set towards the “slow” fashion movement around it.
Portraits by Curtis Gibson
Words by Hannah Tan