Press release for London-based textile company, Flock
Flock: fresh textile designs by bright, young things
Bold and colourful – that’s Flock, the interior textiles company working exclusively with graduate designers from universities all over the UK.
And its eye-catching fabrics – with a strong aesthetic of bold colour, crisp white base cloths and geometric patterns – are certainly grabbing attention. Since the company’s first collection hit the shops in March 2013, Flock’s had press coverage from the likes of Elle Dec, Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Good Homes, Kitchens Bedrooms Bathrooms and Trend Bible.
“It’s the university students who are setting the trends and by working with them directly we are slightly ahead of the main market,” says Jenny Wingfield, who runs Flock from a north London studio with her business partner Johanna Marks.
Flock works with graduate designers from UK universities and prints digitally in Lancashire on linens and velvets with colour testing and sampling in the London studio. Its fabrics are sold by the metre, in retailers and online, and Flock also makes cushions and take on collaborations with furniture makers such as Florrie&Bill which is producing a limited edition range of cocktail chairs in Flock fabrics – and inevitably called Flocktails.
Flock is unique in that it works purely with graduate designers who receive royalties for every metre of their design that sells. Each designer gets a section on Flock’s website and their name is printed on the selvedge of the fabric.
Says Johanna: “They get to keep their name to their work. Usually, when a graduate designer sells designs to a big company, no one would ever know they’d designed it. This level of exposure is fantastic and begins the process of designers building a name for themselves and becoming established in the industry.”
Jenny and Johanna met in 2010 when they worked in the furnishing fabrics department of Liberty. They had both worked previously at different Laura Ashley branches and say they bonded over vending machine hot chocolates and an aversion to plumping cushions and floral patterns.
“We knew there was a gap in the market,” Jenny says. “So we came up with Flock to bring fresh designs into the main textile market – designs that were not too trend-led but exciting and new.”
After visiting the Interior Textiles Trade shows on two consecutive Septembers in search of exciting new collections to add to the department at Liberty, they realised there was so much repetition between the major fabric brands.
Johanna recalls: “We found this boring and uninspiring and not at all answering the demand of our customers who wanted colour, geometric and bold patterns.
“We then visited New Designers together for the first time- this incredible show held at Business Design Centre Islington which showcases the very best design talent from various universities in the UK.
“We found so much to get excited about and we realised then and there that this work needed to be seen by the mass market – it was exactly the type of fabrics and patterns that our Liberty clients wanted, but the reality of this actually happening was very slim as designers struggle to launch a solo collection and get it straight to market just after graduating.
“We chatted it all through and decided we would try to put together our own collection of fabrics which would be compiled from the various graduates and patterns we had seen at New Designers and we would also visit other universities to seek out work that inspires us.”
Jenny says they wanted to set up Flock as a way of supporting and encouraging young designers. The company supports them with advice, help on finding work, references for jobs and suggests companies they can approach for work.
“As Johanna and I have both been through Arts degrees, we know how impossible it is to keep the creative momentum going once you graduate. And being able to fund yourself starting out on your own when you have just left university is a huge financial burden. We wanted to provide a network and platform for the designers to showcase their talent and get their work seen without losing their designs or having the financial pressures of printing a collection.”
The company prints digitally as it is more ecologically responsible because there is less wastage and water consumption than with rotary or screen printing.
Says Jenny: “We found the printing company we chose to work with through LinkedIn. The director was also a textile lecturer and so completely understood and was excited about what we were trying to do. He had seen first-hand how hard it was for his students to launch themselves after uni.
“After much colour and cloth sampling, market research and profiling we decided on our collection and we are lucky enough to have it stocked in some fantastic retailers.
“We’re delighted to be working with some very talented design graduates. It’s great to be able to get their work out into the wider world.”
Flock’s fabrics are stocked in various UK retailers as well as in New York and The Netherlands. Flock has an online shop as well as a presence on Clippings and ShopTent.