The story of Farnol is an interesting and a somewhat different story to many others. Founder Mitchel Farnol was on a weekend trip to the (glorious) North of England, Liverpool to be exact and met someone who intrigued him. A curator of fun and sharpness of mind was to be the beginning of a friendship that would last over ten years to date, but what particularly caught his eye, was their similar way of thinking - albeit a strange, unconventional yet creative streak shared by so few.
Young, fearless and creative, Mitchel saw that this guy knew what he wanted and honed a skill of making things happen. The guy he met was Gareth Olyott. A strong friendship emerged between the two, and our founder was inspired not only by his many stories but also by his knowledge of creative storytelling, his marketing background and a his raw interest in fashion.
The next half decade would see Mitchel build a brand of his own - focused on London and it’s streetwear scene now featured in the UK’s biggest retailers both in store and offline; a success not foreseen even by himself. But this unwavering success gave birth to a new desire, the chance to work direct for the consumer - no middle men, no buyers or wholesalers. After years of speculating ideas on which they could work together, this was the right one. The opportunity to create something together for Mitchel and Gareth was born.
A little bit about the brand...
After years of speculative ideas we saw something that really stood out. We came together in Sept 2015, a chat in Shoreditch House where Mitchel was looking to start something fresh and different from NICCE and Gareth was looking for an exit after a 5 year stint in ad land. This was also the moment the fashion world realised that superbrand, American Apparel where going into bankruptcy. This, for our creators was a tell that the consumer was ready for a new era of brands and a new approach to their wardrobe. The brand that was once the byword for cool for so long was now a symbol of scandal, pushing the consumer away from riské advertising and toward something more pure. We saw the requirement for essentials forged by the thinking of American Apparel but knew we could take the platform built by them and give something more for half the price and twice the quality. That’s where our Everyday collection was born. Quality essentials for the everyday - you could say what we believe are the core ingredients for the everyday and nothing more.
What it is like to work so closely together?
We came from similar paths of life, but extremely different from a work personality perspective. This has probably been our biggest challenge to overcome and it’s the one place we have conflict but we never leave the end of the day without making up.
What is the work dynamic between the two of you?
It’s creative, both very visual but that’s where it ends. We work very differently to one another, not just in terms of approach but also our method. When we met we both wanted the same thing but neither of us had a defined idea of what that was, which was perfect. Taking an idea from different angles and then creating a final refined version is what happened. It was great because when we started Farnol, we found ourselves with the right mix of skills needed. A combination of a wealth of clothing production knowledge combined with years of creative advertising experience. Put them together, add a concept you both believe in and you have yourself an idea you just have to turn into a brand.
Sounds like a clear division of roles?
It’s quite defined in a lot of ways - we play to our strengths. Mitchel has greater knowledge in terms of product and when it comes to art direction for our asset creation and our campaigns Gareth takes the lead. To say there’s no overlap isn’t true. There is a large overlap in terms of the creative sign off - and we go through almost everything together.
What about the rest of the Farnol team?
The roles of the extended team are very defined - it’s got to be that way to avoid any grey areas in terms of accountability. Generally speaking, we have tried to promote an open creative forum - something our collaborator commented on early into the development of that collection so you could say we’ve been successful in achieving this in this early phase.
Has the collection exceeded your expectations?
The collection we had down 2 years ago and the collection we’ve actually launched with are quite different. Probably two thirds of the size. Our expectations for the product were quite high, so I think it’s more accurate to say it’s met the expectations which we set out.
How have things evolved since then?
Well, we’re still finding out who we are as a team, we’re learning more about that every day which has lead us into some interesting product direction for our second collection - keep your eyes peeled!
What we can expect from the next collection?
The next collection will see an exciting injection of a new colour palette that our collaboration will introduce and additional seasonal styles for Autumn & Winter 2018. But that’s all we can say at this point.
You’ve mentioned a collaborator, if you can’t tell us who it is can you tell us what you were looking for?
We’re striving to give a British point of view on what the essential items are to complete the wardrobe so it’s very important that our first collaboration was with someone that understood that ethos. They also needed to have worked with both men and women and have a quality that would draw in a slightly different customer than the typical Farnol consumer. It’s really about merging two worlds, giving high end designers access to a lower end customer and opening higher end iterations to a lower end customer. When we reveal it, all will make sense.
What future plans are you working on?
Our future plans are mainly focused on launching our collaboration platform and really nailing season 2. With our collaborator always driving our seasonal collections in terms of colour palette and product inspiration this is something that’s a real driving force of the Farnol brand.