Fashion today moves faster than ever. With design houses creating more collections than ever before and new trends coming and going quicker than the seasons they were produced in, it can be hard to know whether your sartorial choices will last the distance. Investment buying isn’t just about expensive purchases that you hope will see you through the years; it's also about buying pieces that you won’t throw away after a few wears because they no longer feel relevant.
New digital clothing brand Farnol seeks to remedy this. Launching with 100 pieces – 50 for men, 50 for women – the brand's ethos is seasonless style, with minimalist basics in shades and styles that are made to be built upon to create your own individual look. Think cashmere knitwear, Oxford shirts, waterproof jackets and Breton striped tees. Not only does Farnol’s offering seek to simplify shopping, it insists that building a long-lasting wardrobe isn’t just for those with plenty to spend. In keeping with competitors like H&M and Uniqlo, prices start at £15 for a T-shirt and go up to £138 for a cashmere dress.
“There are shopping habits which promote the over-consumption of products that, after not too long, are discarded. We just thought this needed to be changed, be that through a change in style or a matter of poor quality,” co-creator Gareth Olyott explains. “We tackle the issue properly by offering both timeless styles for all seasons and great quality pieces that are affordable. We’re trying to rewrite what people think about quality essential products that last and the prices associated with that. We make it possible for everybody to buy.”
Why did Farnol’s founders decide to launch now, into the oversaturated market of online fashion? “There are so many fashion brands out there, more than ever before, making the market the most competitive it’s ever been,” founder Mitchel Galvin-Farnol says. “This is exactly why we started Farnol, to simplify the shopping experience and offer the key styles and key colours that complete the wardrobe.” Mitchel is the brains behind streetwear brand NICCE, which currently has an Instagram following of 103k, and cites the brand as the reason for Farnol. “It’s where I gained all my experience and is what led me to wanting to create something new, outside of logo brands, direct for the consumer – no middle men, no buyers or wholesalers.”
While the site’s lookbook images leave a lot to be desired – minimalist needn't mean overly basic – the pieces themselves are well made, timeless and great additions to any wardrobe, regardless of personal style. Our favourites include navy all-weather jackets, grey cashmere crew-neck sweaters and everyday slim-cut trousers. The aesthetic of the brand was one of the first decisions to be made, Gareth says. “The minimalism was a natural go-to for us. There’s an air of simplicity that we want to come through in everything. This allows for layering in the colder months and stripping it back when we have warmer seasons. The thing is, the products tend to be the same, just worn differently. Our hack to this rule is to drop in seasonal colours to offer something a little more relevant and exciting.”
While producing a limited number of classic staples encourages more mindful shopping, ensuring that those staples are made ethically is also part and parcel of sustainable, fair fashion. “Our starting point is always looking for the best fabric we can source that will give us the best garment in the final stage,” Mitchel explains. “The essence of the collection is that it’s accessible quality, so we’re always striving to find the right balance between cost and quality. We’ve delivered on using organic or sustainable fabrications where possible, with a range that boasts 100% cotton, both pima and organic, ethically produced 100% cashmere, 100% cotton twill and YKK zippers for quality and durability.” The clothes are designed in London but made in Nepal – are the people making the clothes being treated and paid fairly? “When starting, we did so with corporate responsibility at the heart of the brand. Taking this very seriously, we work with the likes of Sedex [a global non-profit that shares data on supply chains to ensure ethical practices] to support our factories to ensure all workers are paid and treated fairly,” states Mitchel.
With fashion proving to be more wasteful and damaging for our planet every day – in 2015, the fashion industry consumed enough water to fill 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools – stripping back our wardrobe can only be a good thing. “Think twice before buying – think about whether you really need something,” Mitchel says. “I tend to find styles and cuts I like and stick with them, adding a variation of colours but not buying for the sake of it.” This is the basis of Farnol, which will drop seasonal shades of the same cuts and styles throughout the year. “We’ve created a route to buying with purpose to minimise consumption,” Gareth explains. Mindful shopping for affordable basics? Put that simply, the mighty challenge of making your wardrobe more sustainable doesn’t seem so scary.