London - As the debate between 'fast-fashion' and 'slow-fashion' and selling directly to consumers rages on, one British fashion start-up continues to promote his vision of what fashion can be, in the form of the 30-year collection. Last year saw Thomas Cridland launch the 30-Year Sweatshirt and the 30-Year T-shirt after successfully raising upwards of 80,000 pounds through crowdfunding on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Two classic wardrobe staples, which are so well made that they are guraranteed to last 30 years, promoting quality over quantity within the increasingly mass-market fashion industry.
Now Thomas and his partner Deborah Marx have launched the final installment to the 30-Year Collection, namely The 30-Year Jacket. "I am very excited about the jacket launch," said Cridland to FashionUnited over the phone. "It is the sequel to the 30-Year Sweatshirt and something we have spent the last 6 months working very hard on - we poured our heart and soul into it." The jacket, which was officially launched this Saturday during an in-store event at Tom Cridland's pop-up store in Chelsea, London, is similar to its counterparts in the sense it is a classic garment. Featuring a more contemporary cut, similar to the Tom Cridland trousers, the jacket is available in 2 versions and six colours, a lighter spring version and a heavier, thicker version for autumn, winter.
Tom Cridland launches the final installment of the 30-Year Collection: The 30-Year Jacket
But just like the other components of the 30-Year collection, the 30-Year jacket is so well made it will last 30 years of wear and tear. If something does indeed happen to the garment in the intermediate time, customers can send it back for free repairs through to 2046, a pledge not many fashion companies are able to make. However, this fashion start-up is definitely not your average high street retailer, as Cridland sent out tackle the industry's built-in obsolescence process with his collection of high quality, sustainable yet affordable garments. With the 30-Year jacket however, the designer sent out to create something a little "different" from the sweatshirts and t-shirts, something a little more luxurious. Inspired to make his own jacket when he found himself wearing his father's old jacket, the 30-Year Jacket is crafted from the finest Italian wool and cotton fabrics and made in Portugal.
The 30-Jacket features 10 special details, such as the handstitched logo which was designed by a graphic designer in California, making each item unique. However, Cridland believes it that it is the jacket's 30-Year guarantee which truly makes the garment on of a kind. "We spent a long time getting it right," says Cridland, who admits with somewhat of a heavy heart that the jacket will only be available in a limited number of 500 pieces. "It was an extremely hard decision for us to make, but we are a small company - it's just to two of us, so with a heavy heart we decided to limited the production to 500." Although production of the jacket was higher than that of the sweatshirt or t-shirt and incurred more costs, Cridland refused to charge a higher markup as other high street retailers, to make sure the jacket remained accessible.
"Some luxury retailers charge a markup of up to 50 percent of the normal recommended retail price, but I wanted to make sure the jacket was accessible to our customers." With the heavier, thicker jacket (available in Charcoal and Navy) retailing for 249 pounds and the thinner, lighter version (available in electric blue, chilli red, camel and seville orange) retailing for 199 pounds, Cridland notes that the jacket has been extremely well received by some of the brand's most loyal fans, adding all the jacket samples, which were displayed in store, where ultimately sold as well. Some customers were surprised that Cridland did not charge more for the jackets, but the designer acknowledges that the jacket may not be something everyone will be keen to pick up. "We do need to charge enough of a markup to make sure we survive and continue growing, which is why I think e-commerce is the perfect place for our brand. We use it as a platform to spread our case."
Which is why, although he held a special launch event for the jacket's premiere in-store, the jacket is exclusively for sale online. "I really enjoyed the experience of having a store and being in-store, but at the end of the day we are an e-commerce based company," explains Cridland, who launched his label with the intention to fill the gap in the market for higher end, quality products without the premium price tag. "Look at Harry's and Warby Parker, who proved it is possible to be a great brand online. Look at American Apparel, who produces sustainable and quality clothes. At the end of the day I want to have a brand which is known for its personality and not just another high street chain - although if the store goes really well then we may open more. But we will see."
Until then customers will have to fulfill all their Tom Cridland shopping online, as the shop at King’s Road in Chelsea closes its door today. In the meantime, the 30-Year Jacket is still available for pre-order until April 30, 2016 for delivery by June, 30 2016.