Launching a new business can be a demanding experience at the best of times, never mind when the world is in various stages of lockdown. Undeterred, Angela Blundell set about creating her first collection, one centred around her interests in slow fashion and sustainability and, of course, a keen sense of understated, enduring design.
“I don’t think that there can be a better time to launch the collection than now,” says Angela. “The awareness of environmental issues and the need to reduce landfill waste across the fashion industry means that consumers are a lot more demanding about sustainability, they want to see the deeds beyond the words.
“Equally, there’s a growing sense among consumers that core pieces that can be mixed and matched and can work in a formal or informal setting, offer so much more and can remain a mainstay of your wardrobe for years to come.
“Producing a collection that has these timeless qualities, that allow you to create your own style, whether that’s a classic or contemporary look, is really at the heart of what Concrete London is about. And that, in turn, means less environmental waste, because these are pieces that will still look great in 10 years’ time.”
An industry veteran who has worked with some of the industry’s most successful brands (including Diesel, D Squared and Wolford), Angela backed up all of that experience with extensive research before putting the Concrete London collection together. The one overriding conclusion that came up again and again was the need for a silhouette that could work as an essential piece, a spark that could bring the rest of a wardrobe to life.
Every piece has its own identity and has been specially curated, but if there is a signature style, it’s the Hadid, a relaxed-fit polo neck with wonderful detailing, from the waterfall effect at the front to the beautiful ribbed sleeves and, in keeping with all of the collection, no seams on show at all. The Hadid, was created using Japanese Shima Seiki 3D knitwear technology, an integral factor with the whole collection, that produces whole seamless garments with minimal waste and comes with the subtle Concrete-London tab in the signature intarsia yellow.
Each of the styles in the collection takes its name from a celebrated architect. As Angela explains, bringing in creative elements from outside of the immediate world of fashion is an important part of her approach as a designer and curator of Concrete London.
“You can see this direct comparison between form and design in architecture and in clothing,” she says. “Think about the way that pieces can be structured around your body to create these beautiful silhouettes. The details in the collection mirror the structural changes to the drape of the product, as well as the subtle details that are part of the design.”
That love of detail helps set Concrete London apart, revealing the brand’s DNA and identity. A big part of that is bound up with this focus on sustainability, something of a buzzword in the industry at the moment but, as Angela points out, a vital foundation for her work, both now and moving forward.
“These are things that have to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” she stresses. “The sharing of knowledge and focus on the environment is fundamental to us as a brand. We did a lot of research to find the most ethical yarn for our collection, produced using a non-mulesing process that means all of the yarn is traceable back to the farmer and their sheep.”
That’s also meant establishing relationships with suppliers, all UK-based, who aim for zero wastage and other best practices. “Establishing that level of trust is vital, especially for a start-up brand,” Angela adds.
Clearly, she’s enjoying putting a brand together, establishing its personality and voice, and is looking forward to the coming months and years with obvious excitement. “When I think about my 25 years working in the fashion industry, the biggest lesson has really been to listen and learn,” Angela says. “This whole collection is based around that, listening and learning, understanding what our consumer needs and what our environment needs.
“To have people buy into our ethos, not just the brand or the individual designs, that for me would be the ultimate success for Concrete London.”