Just putting it out there, FTE (short for Freedom to Exist) is a stylish must-have. Boasting a fine range of sleek watches, the indie label is perhaps best described as “minimalist luxe”. Why? Because its selection features smooth designs of block brushed metals with tan-tone leathers that we can really get on board with.
Founded by Kirsty Whyte and Paul Tanner in 2015, two years later the pair are making a real name for themselves, leading the way as far as the contemporary timepiece is concerned. So naturally, we decided to find out more, beg, borrow and stealing five minutes with Whyte.
Does your personal taste in fashion have an influence on your designs?
When it comes to designing for Freedom To Exist, yes 100%. We started FTE because I couldn’t find a minimal watch I liked, fitted my slim wrists and for the right price.
And do watch functionalities affect the design of your watches too?
Yes, functionalities do affect the design. We wanted to design a timepiece that simply told the time and did it well. We did not want you to have to stare at the watch for five minutes trying to interpret the time. We also didn’t want to overwhelm with additional distractions, like, how often does a Chronograph dial or 12 hour counter dial really get used…
What colour from the collection will be a best seller for AW17 do you reckon?
Oh that’s a good question. We’ve recently introduced some new colours within the 30 Edition and Silver cases in the 40 Edition. No matter the season, the fte3002 in Rose Gold and Tan leather is our most popular 30 Edition colour way, but a close second is one of our new combinations of fte3011 Rose Gold and Grey leather strap. For the 40 Edition, the new fte4208 with silver case, white dial and black leather strap has quickly become a best seller. It is a classic colour combination that we have had a lot of requests for and several pre-orders for since launching the 40 Edition on Kickstarter.
Socks FALKE, shoes UNISA, watch FTE
Socks FALKE, shoes UNISA, watch FTE
What is your favourite colour and size from the collection?
Well the best thing about owning your own brand is you don’t have to pick just one! I love to co-ordinate with what I’m wearing, match my jewellery to a particular case – or pair the leather of my shoes to the strap. In summer I love wearing the fte3012 rose gold and cream leather strap. I also love to wear the fte3001 gold case, black dial; the classic fte3002 rose gold and tan.
Do you think the array of brushed metal tints paired with moody-coloured straps gives the watch a subtle sense of sophistication?
We wanted to keep our designs contemporary. With classic styling we wanted to nod back to classic watch designs of the past – which we loved. The case is brushed metal with a polished bezel, as we didn’t want the whole case to be too shiny and distracting from the overall design. Even though our colour palette is generally natural, I think there is a colour combination that suits all types of individual designs. We want our watches to compliment what you’re wearing rather than shout, “look at me!”
What do the colour and strap combinations say about the FTE brand?
Being a self-funded start-up we had to be extra considerate about our colour selections. We did not want to launch a huge range of colours, so we started out with a core five leathers and four core case colours. I think our colour combinations reflect our design principles, minimal and timeless.
Looking ahead, do you think there will be any future watch combinations?
It would be great to design an exclusive colour combination for a design led retailer.