And Now Wee is a cool, affordable menswear label by Jonny Deacon. It’s sold at Truman Brewery’s Back Yard Market on Brick Lane during the weekend and during the week they are in in Spitalfields Market. They will also be available in Kosmos, in Italy this spring.
What inspired you to design your own collection?
Being skint! Having no money and wanting to be creative makes you work +12hr days to realise your dreams. The year before launch was incredibly difficult as I found myself doing ridiculous hours and once home finishing at 1am most nights to develop the collection and the business as a whole; no days off.
Did you have any formal training?
Most of East London population have degrees in fashion/film/media/ but I’ve had no formal training. I picked up loads of advice from colleges. Working at All Saints, one of the leading high street premium brands helped. You raise your game pretty quickly. I constantly asked questions from people in every department (patten cutting, design, production, press, customer service etc). It was a crash course in the level you have to reach to be distinctive on the high street, which is where I envisage ANW one day. Overall I learned the most from the mistakes they were making and it gave me the confidence that it doesn’t matter how large the label / brand its all relative and the same mistakes get made, just on a much bigger scale! You have to get the basic operations and planning right from the start, which stuck with me.
The collection evolved out of practicality and gaps in my wardrobe more than anything else. There is no need to pay £100 for a basic v-neck! I looked at my friends, who are all stylish and individual but share the same common attribute of dressing subtly. I’m obsessed with being subtle, from jewellery to shoes, being understated is an important brand value for ANW. The collection as a whole is based on the essentials for primarily 20/30 but even +40 something men that need good quality garments that will last. The graphics lay a platform to be slightly more expressive, adventurous and playful.
You don’t have to be amazing at everything as you can outsource, but you have to be able to identify what you’re crap at, otherwise you’ll struggle to get the label off the ground.
Was it difficult to find manufacturers?
Yes, but you just get on with it and look at all options. ANW is a small menswear brand but we have huge ambition. The bigger picture has always taken fore front. Currently everything is produced in the UK and US, out with our shirts (China). In two years we will look at Portugal, Turkey and China when the brand is stable and can warrant it.
What has been the most challenging aspect of starting a new label?
Funding and cash flow. I am very lucky in many respects as my Family have loaned me the start-up cash but at a rate they will see a fair return. The major downside to this is lending from loved ones and that has added different pressures. I found out very early that I needed control over everything which suited my personality, I get easily frustrated when people don’t give 100%. Obviously partnerships share the burdens of funding and work load which is great but it wasn’t for me. Also I have a fantastic accountant and bookkeeper which if you set up as a limited company is essential, well it was for me.
Can you tell me more about your T-shirts?
They are meant to be fun and provocative. There is a heavy reference to the monarchy, in particular the Queen. I think the Queen would be a nice lady to meet so it’s not personal, just an idea to mix things up. Historic twists have been a large centre piece to collection with our Shakespeare being a huge seller. In no particular order the brands idols are David Bowie, Steve McQueen and Tom Petty. The brand definitely leans to 2/3 British flair and a 1/3 American Vintage which is probably an expression of the latter idols. These guys either set the scene or ended it respectively. Whether they feature in future collections is another thing altogether.
Currently all our tees are a white canvas, and will probably stay that way for a while. Its a sheer jersey 100% cotton, vintage washed that lies slim and soft to the skin. They are high quality and fantastic for screening.
There is no escaping that fact that for most start-up labels the T-Shirt allows the best platform to launch your ideas and uniqueness and many labels have done well with this as their centre piece. ANW balances this with a focus on the brand as a whole, which will always remain our priority.