We met up with the identical twins behind emerging fashion brand G.F HAWTHORNE to talk inflatable jackets, Barbie bridal parties and 6ft MDF dinosaurs… (No, really)
It may have been a typical, dreary winter’s day when we met Grace and Faith – the identical Northern Irish twins behind new fashion label G.F HAWTHORNE – but there is nothing typical about these girls! Arriving in a whirlwind of curly, blonde hair and orange lipstick, they immediately draw us into their latest drama; only the small matter of an almost house fire… “Oh my god, we almost set the house on fire last night with our new heat roller”! Welcome to the bonkers but brilliant world of G.F HAWTHORNE.
For those of you wondering what a heat roller is (myself included), I’m afraid I’m still not sure, but apparently it’s a small clue as to what we can expect from their next “smoky” collection for Autumn/Winter 2015. However, given that their graduate collection was inspired by aeroplane structure and their latest collection ‘New Predator on the Block’ features a 6ft MDF dinosaur prop, I’m not sure how much of a hint the heat roller can really be…
Offering a colourful and quirky slant on tried-and-tested deluxe sports influences, we get the full lowdown from the Kingston graduates to see what their next step will be now they’re going it alone in the big, bad world of fashion.
Because your mother owned a dress making business while you were growing up, do you two feel like you were destined for a creative career in fashion?
Grace: Yeah, we’d been sewing on an industrial sewing machine since we were about four.
Faith: I remember jumping up and down to look at the overlocker [a machine that produces professionally finished seams] once because I was so curious and I stuck my finger into this thing and it crushed it! I was obviously careful enough not to tell anyone though… My parents know now, but if they’d have known at the time then I’d have never been allowed on the machine, so I thought it was quite clever not to tell them!
Grace: And we were always making things for our Mum’s shop. We’d be cutting out the patterns for the flower girl dresses and stuff.
So did your Mum teach you how to sew, or were you self-taught?
Faith: We would literally sit at her elbow and watch what she’d do.
Grace: But I think probably just from looking at the patterns we began to understand construction as well; you’d see how this piece fitted with that piece… We actually made a full bridal party for our Barbies once! We had a disposable camera to take pictures of Ken and everyone all dressed up.
When you chose to study fashion design, what led you to come to England?
Faith: I think there’s more opportunity over here.
Grace: We did look at courses in Belfast…
Faith: … And there was one in Dublin as well, but they seemed more textiles-based, and that wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. All of the tutors that we had at Kingston were in the industry as well, so when people are working in the industry and teaching it, obviously you’re getting a more in depth perspective.
You collaborated on your final graduate collection for S/S 2013. Why did you decide to do that?
Grace: I suppose we were already thinking about doing our own brand, so we thought ‘ok, we’ll do the collection together and see how it goes’! We had to do six looks each, so instead we integrated and designed twelve looks together.
Do you both feel like you complement each other as a team?
Faith: I think Grace is very good at getting things done.
Grace: But Faith’s probably a bit more accurate than me!
Faith: I think I’m more likely to spend time thinking about things, whereas Grace actually gets things done. Otherwise I’d be there all day!
Grace: No, but that’s good, because sometimes you’ll be like ‘oh, let’s do this’ and it’s something I won’t have thought about, but you will have, and it’s great.
So can you talk me through the thought process behind your graduate collection?
Faith: Basically our older brother is a pilot, and there was a near-enough accident or a fault on one of the planes he was on. So we thought it would be interesting to look at aviation and the structure of aircrafts. So we made inflatable jackets and things… They were quite challenging!
And are the influences we saw in your graduate collection still relevant to your work as a brand today, or have you changed your core aesthetic as you’ve developed?
Grace: Our work isn’t directly humorous, but there is always some kind of humour running through our collections.
Faith: Even with the bright colours we use as well: for instance we had neon yellow paired with white for our graduate collection. We like to play with bright colours and fabrics as well as with the structural elements.
Did you always know that you wanted to start up your own brand, or was that an idea that evolved throughout university?
Faith: I think it was something that we’d always thought about really.
Grace: After producing our graduate collection I think we were ready to kill each other. But we’re still alive! Seriously though, our father owns his own business, so I think we grew up in the kind of environment where we were encouraged to think for ourselves…
Could you now talk us through your latest collection for S/S 2015: New Predator on the Block. What was the thought process behind it?
Faith: Well it all kind of started with this article we saw online for Dinovember…
Grace: So with all the kids these days just sitting on iPads and playing games; we find it really frustrating! We’ve got younger brother who does the same thing. So he can sit in front of the television with his computer and then his Xbox… Whereas we were always drawing and painting and making things, so – even with our eldest brother – we always did things together. But then we saw this article about Dinovember, where every night the parents create these scenes around the house where the dinosaurs come to life. So when the kids wake up the next morning there might be a big bake-off in the kitchen with the dinosaurs everywhere…
Faith: Then we found something about tartan dinosaurs as well, so that brought the whole tartan, checked element into the collection. And we just wanted it to be fun! So we made a 6ft dinosaur out of MDF… Which also kind of introduced the structural element you see in the clothes.
Grace: We had to buy a jigsaw for that dinosaur. So we’ve got this old soft top Morris Minor, and we had to roll the roof down to buy all this MDF, and then it started to rain and we were cruising down the road and I had to put my sunglasses on because I didn’t want anyone to see us! So now we’ve kind of got a whole DIY shop thing going on in our house…
So there was really just one thing that really sparked that whole creative process for you then?
Faith: Yeah. Then once we’d seen that I started to think about the colour palette: I had this image of lilac with that vibrant orange. They look so beautiful together.
Grace: Faith was like ‘we’re using these colours and I don’t care what you say,’ which might have caused a bit of conflict! We were initially trying to make a tartan print using both the orange and the lilac though, and it just would not work, but keeping them as standalone colours looks really good.
What are your plans for this collection then?
Faith: We don’t have any stockists yet, but we’ve got some celebrities that it would be great to see the collection on. We love Rita Ora and it would be great to see Cara Delevingne in our clothes as well.
Grace: But we want to start slowly and be patient. Obviously we need to think about sales too, but for now we just want to get noticed and for people to like what we do and what we’re about.
Words: Samantha Southern
Photography: Stelianour Sani
Make-Up: Jenna Jefferies
Hair: Ben Russ
Model: Janneke at Profile