Sustainability, creativity and collaboration. These factors are more important in fashion than ever before. They are a driving force behind some of the biggest and best brands, especially younger ones. Gen-Z brands feel a greater responsibility to the environment, and that is felt through their designs and practices.
Sean Chimbani founded Faceconceptstores Ltd only a year and a half ago. It’s already safe to say that he has created a brand with longevity. One that goes beyond the typical fashion model and creates artistic pieces that are built to last through collaborations with other creatives. Faceconceptstores LTD. is a brand that is committed to the ‘slow fashion model’, they curate petite collections, offering a pre-order model as part of its commitment to sustainability. His recent collaborative collection with Aya Fayad, a Lebanese artist, was incredibly successful. We hit up Sean to discuss his brand, his plans for 2021 and how YouTube is teaching him new things.
HOW DID FACECONCEPTSTORES LTD COME ABOUT?
It started when I developed a passion for footwear during my third year at University. I was studying Industrial Design at the time and a passion for sketching shoes and sneakers emerged naturally from my wider interests in art and design. I started reading more and more about the footwear industry and stumbled across Mr Bailey, founder of Conceptkicks. I was inspired by the unconventional journey his career took and started to imagine bringing my own footwear ideas to life, building a brand. I still have some funny memories of my roommate asking for me to sketch him a shoe so he could frame it. It’s funny now but looking back it was a real confidence boost that spurred me on to pursue my passions.
After graduating I moved to London and I started connecting with creatives across all different disciplines. By this point, I had started to take a keen interest in fashion and street style alongside my continued passion for footwear. I was listening to all these creatives’ stories, looking at their art and then something just clicked. I wanted to create a brand that amplified the voices of independent artists. I’m a firm believer that together we can do so much more and collaborative design is something I champion. That’s when Face Concepts Stores launched.
WHAT IS THE ETHOS BEHIND YOUR BRAND?
We are committed to amplifying creative voices by collaborating on experimental projects. We want our community to have access to a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at our creative process. Hopefully, we can inspire people to invest more into independent projects.
WHY IS SUSTAINABILITY SO IMPORTANT TO YOU AND YOUR BRAND?
Like many young brands, we feel a responsibility to move fashion-forward in a more sustainable way. Each new collection presents its own challenges but also an opportunity to innovate and explore new avenues.
Our brand champions individuals and their stories. Therefore, it wouldn’t feel right to neglect the stories of those most impacted by the environmental burden of the fashion industry at present.
We currently opt for a slow fashion model. By curating small collections and offering a pre-order model we are trying to reduce waste as much as possible. We of course look at material options and have experimented with upcycling and including recycled materials.
Aside from the clothes themselves, we take all areas of the business into consideration including packaging and photoshoot/campaign waste.
We remain firm on our belief that being sustainable means buying less which in turn means the most sustainable garment is the one that is already in your wardrobe. It seems counterintuitive to say this as a clothing brand however it’s the truth. Therefore, we hope that anyone who buys from us does so with longevity in mind.
It would be great to see people getting as much wear out of their Face garments as possible and perhaps even making use of rental apps.
YOU’VE DISCUSSED HOW YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR STANDARDS IN THE DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING OF YOUR GARMENTS. HOW ARE YOU GOING ABOUT DOING THAT?
We are constantly evolving our processes for numerous reasons.
Firstly, we want to ensure that we deliver the highest quality of garment so that our clothes are built to last, to be loved and worn over and over. This translates to improving garment design, fit and also looking at the best materials. We have also explored the use of 3D design which allows us to visualise garments and make adjustments without having to create numerous samples.
We would also love to continue to upcycle existing garments and seeing how this can work for future collections. It’s a creative challenge that we really enjoyed as part of our first collection. It forces you to explore new design and manufacturing options often striping the process back to handmade or hand-finished techniques.
With manufacturing, our main focus is on ensuring fabric waste is kept to a minimum. To do so we are working to re-imagine how offcuts might be used.
How has your own background influenced what you do?
Professionally, my degree has contributed to my current career choice. It certainly helped build some practical skills and allowed me to understand the design process.
Most of what I’m doing now has come from personal endeavours. I’m really proactive in learning new things (with a lot of help from Youtube!) but also just getting out there and connecting with people. I’ve always been really social and love hearing about what other people are getting up to.
Your collaborative collection with artist Aya Fayad was a hit. How did that come about?
I first connected with Aya on Instagram after coming across her work and we later discovered we both grew up in Zimbabwe. We just got networking and became friends.
I proposed the collaboration on a whim with no real plan in place yet for Face and it goes to show sometimes you just have to start and learn along the way. This flexibility actually turned out for the best especially given that lots of the items were one of ones. When you upcycle and hand craft items you have to go with the flow, accepting that sometimes what you had in mind doesn’t end up as the result- but that’s the best part! You end up with really unique items and each one has its own story.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF SINCE STARTING FACECONCEPTSTORES LTD?
I’m honestly just most proud of the hard work and commitment to the brand from every single person involved. You only ever really see the end products, the fun photoshoots, the highlight moments but behind the scenes is where the real pride comes in. It’s tough. It’s hard work and problem solving and taking things in your stride. It requires relentless self-belief and a team of people who are also supporting what you do.
I’m incredibly grateful for anyone who’s contributed to our journey and it’s why we are committed to showing people what Face is all about.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT IN THE LESS THAN TWO YEARS SINCE STARTING YOUR BRAND?
So much, but here are a few to note
- You’re going to hit brick walls- put a helmet on. Challenges are inevitable but you need to remain agile. Don’t know how to do something? Learn. Don’t have the answer? Find it. You really have to be proactive and solutions-oriented.
- There are lots of people doing lots of things but no one else is doing you, in the way that only you know how. Believe in what you bring to the table.
- Don’t get lost in the sauce! There’s lots of fun that comes with having your own brand, but the business aspect is just as important as your creative output.
WHERE DOES THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR GRAPHICS AND ILLUSTRATIONS COME FROM?Honestly anything and everything. I’m just constantly exploring and that can be in real life or online. Inspiration can come from anywhere, so I just keep an open mind.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR?
Just start. The timing is never going to be perfect. Learn as you go and as long as you’re pursuing something you have a genuine passion for it will all come together. Network and build a community. You can get so far on your own but honestly, a great team will elevate whatever it is you want to do.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2021?
Face is determined to keep telling stories from unique artists all around the world. With limitations comes a unique opportunity to create and collaborate like never before and it’s a challenge we are more than happy to rise to.
We are looking forward to launching our summer collection in the months to come and touch wood, we might be able to bring the Face community together for something really exciting.