A fashion design brand based in West Yorkshire has won an exciting new opportunity to reach a truly global audience.
Matthew Cunnington and John Sanderson’s fashion brand, Cunnington & Sanderson, is one of the select independent labels joining The 100 Project, a collaboration between Not Just a Label, a digital showcase for independent brands, and wholesale buying platform JOOR.
The brand caught Not Just A Label’s attention in 2008 when Matthew won the Grand Prize of the Jury at 23rd Festival International de Mode and de Photographie at Hyeres, France. Cunnington and Sanderson’s first catwalk collection launched the following year, and its garments have since been a fixture on NotJustALabel.com.
When Not Just A Label announced The 100 Project, Matthew and John immediately applied and are among the 100 independent brands that have won a new opportunity to showcase their products to wholesale buyers with their own space on JOOR.
Through The 100 Project, Cunnington & Sanderson have an exciting new stage from which to reach a global audience. JOOR enables retailers from around the world to discover collections by more than 8,000 brands through a digital showroom that places every stage of the buying process online.
“Buyers need to know that an item will sell, which is sometimes harder to demonstrate with more unique products,” says Matthew. “This is such a huge opportunity for us because JOOR is used by over 200,000 retailers and we want to share our story with them.”
The brand’s current focus is on a capsule collection using their unique approach to draping. Many of Cunnington & Sanderson’s garments are made by draping a single complete piece of fabric, meaning no waste is produced from cutting the material into shape.
By developing designs in this style which can be produced in greater volume, Matthew and John will be able to upscale without compromising the distinctive quality of their garments. They are now looking to put together a new lookbook and photography for each piece to prepare for the JOOR platform.
With their focus on natural and sustainable fibres, access to local suppliers in Yorkshire has proven vital for Matthew and John. For example, they have developed a close relationship with Abraham Moon & Sons in Guiseley, a few miles down the road from their home studio in Silsden, from which they source much of their woollen cloth.
“For us as designers it’s important to know where our materials came from and how they were made,” Matthew explains. “Having that close communication with manufacturers nearby – where you can physically see the fabric being made – adds to the story of the garment.”
“It’s exactly that personal touch that sums us up as designers,” John adds.
“Each item has a meaning, a reason to exist, like a book or a painting. It gives clothes so much more importance – a quality product to cherish that will last a long time.”
The duo hope to impart the same values to students through their new zero-waste draping workshops.
After a successful event with fashion design students at Nottingham Trent University, Matthew and John do have other workshops in the pipeline and are starting to explore how they could offer these opportunities virtually.
While the move towards remote learning has led to new challenges for hands-on courses such as fashion degrees, trade shows are starting to shift in a similar direction. For John, this could play into the hands of smaller brands like Cunnington & Sanderson.
It has already been announced that London Fashion Week will take place in a digital format in 2020, combining both menswear and womenswear. With brands increasingly questioning the value and sustainability of physical shows even before this year’s events, it is likely that others will follow.
“A digital fashion show might offer designers a bit more control,” John explains. “It’s likely to be more cost-effective too. That means more opportunities to express yourself creatively, develop your brand and tell your story. As a young business that’s where your money needs to go.”
Platforms like JOOR broaden the scope for brands to showcase their collections directly to international buyers, while giving buyers access to a wider range of independent designers than a single trade or fashion show. As they prepare this new digital shop window, Matthew and John are optimistic about its potential.
“Retail is taking a hit at the moment but I think even more buyers will be starting to look online,” adds Matthew. “We’re looking forward to getting started.”