You might read them or hear them or see their work and you always notice them. Their style is unique, timeless and absolutely about them... they wear their wardrobe, not the other way around. Some of them have very paired-back simple tastes, others are total dandy, sartorial elegance. Some are rock and roll and some are very considered in their choices of clothing, where each piece has a story and a significance. And I am very lucky that they have all, at some time, expressed their pleasure in wearing Connolly... their own way.
So here we have asked them to choose a piece from the summer collection, shoot it and send the photographs back; to see their view of our clothes… and how it relates to their life. All are photographed in lockdown, in the spirit of that great photographer, Robert Frank. This will be posted as photographic storIes both on Instagram and as letters over the next few summer months... to entice you back to the land of retail.
Today we start with Daniel Jenkins in the Connolly Cut Away Denim Shirt. Daniel writes about clothes as a as an unbiased highly informed critic... he reviews with an x-ray vision and a superbly edited eye. I first heard about him from fashion students when he was a retailer of independent brands in a small town in Wales, with an almost mythical reputation. He looks for the point of a piece of clothing as you would search for the qualities in a friend, a painting, or a play.
Learn more about Daniel Jenkin's online magazine Purposeful Activity here. 'We know that the UK has incredible creative capabilities, so we focus upon the best the UK has to offer, from clothing and luxury goods, through to food, travel, experiences and lifestyle. Telling the innovative stories of those people and products, big and small who are redefining the British creative community' - Daniel Jenkins.
So this is the Spring that was.
& if 2020 had been Twenty Twenty but not, I’d perhaps be talking to you about the spring apparently of Connell’s chain, and to me, more Connolly unchanged.
About this, it’s a Neapolitan cowboy shirt Isabel tells me. Just the thing to wear to sit on & in my case undoubtedly fall off the horse, to love and live life.
But 2020, is half way through and well, you know what it is.
A moment of change, a moment of frustration, of anger and sadness. A moment where perhaps we felt we had previously just been getting on with things, but now simply cannot.
Someone once told me they felt lost when they couldn’t control or perhaps alter the situation, moment’s when they felt isolated, apart from community not a part of it.
That’s what this Spring has felt like.
I live in a small village, surrounded by fields and the river. Usually, a couple of days a week I’m up and out early to London, then at night back here at home where the real work happens. It always felt a little bit greedy, the best of both, because my work is about excesses of stimulation, sight, touch, smell and taste, mixed with periods of reflection spent in paradise, time to think and to process.
Sometimes, too much time is a bad thing. The trees get closer and you can’t see what’s around you.
Time when you feel insignificant and helplessness washes over you.
Then one night a few weeks ago, I read that the International Space Station, was about to fly overhead, so there I stood in my garden, waiting, “is that it”, or “what about that thing over there”, then whoosh, a marble flicked across the sky and my eyes followed it toward the horizon, a mix of engineering and dreaming, piloted by 5 Astronauts. I felt like a child, and remembered that being a small part of something big wasn’t such a bad thing in fact it was a comfort.
So what’s that got to do with a shirt?
Well I don’t believe creative actions and practice can operate in a vacuum, we are all a product of communities, our families, our towns, our industries, our friends, our football team, everything we are a small part of, makes us.
The past few months have shown that occasionally these communities falter, when challenged, breaking our routine and we are damaged. But on the whole it has shown us that where they are tested, many stand true, stronger than we realised.
Connolly from it’s Clifford Street base, is a community in itself and part of the larger one, both here in Britain and globally.
A community which has stood tall during this, and perhaps whilst it may not feel like it now, will be strengthened immeasurably in time. Because the best creative endeavours aren’t just for those special moments, brief snapshots. Instead their aim is to heighten the everyday.
So this shirt, like everything from Connolly, is heirloom quality clothing to be worn doing whatever life throws at us.
Not to be saved for best, but worn through love, softening, comforting and taking on pattern, our affectionate movements becoming story telling improvements.
Designed, woven, dyed, cut, stitched, sewn and sold, by people with talent and who care, all so I can utilise the power of story to remind and celebrate the beauty and joy of life.
Which in past few weeks is what I’ve done, wearing it to think and walk the dog, to drive for essentials, to work, heck even smash a few tennis balls.
Wearing it and washing it, time after time, becoming less a shirt - albeit a beautiful one – more an extension of me.
..the best creative endeavours aren’t just for those special moments, brief snapshots. Instead their aim is to heighten the everyday.