Louise Halswell

Ad Hoc Guardian Interview
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April 30th 2015

Louise Halswell is the designer behind FUUD London – an independent clothing and accessories label that started out by accident when a dress Louise made for herself garnered attention at Bestival music festival. Launched in Bristol in 2010, the colorful and edgy label has since moved to London and expanded from making their trademark hoods to a clothing range including ‘sports luxe streetwear’.

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How long have you been a guardian?
I’ve been a guardian for about 2 ½ years now. I’m in Haggerston, on Colville estate.

Why does being a guardian work for you?
Because I have to pay for a small business as well, I just can’t afford London rental prices. My studio is more expensive than my house at the moment, and I just can’t afford to do both. My house rent here is what my studio and my house rent used to be when I lived in Bristol.

How did you find out about the Ad Hoc scheme?
My friends were doing it and when of them was moving away to Portugal I took her space and got signed up then. Then her boyfriend moved out of the other room and my friend moved in.
I quite like living in different houses and seeing what you get given.

It sounds Fuudhoods had a very organic beginning?
Yeah, pretty much. I designed costumes for me and my friends for a festival about 7 years ago now and when we went loads of people were saying, ‘Oh my god that’s amazing, where can I get one?’, and it kind of just started doing more of that kind of thing. Then I got a studio  with a friend of mine.
I’d always been creative, I was doing Fine Art at Uni, and I knew that that degree wouldn’t come out with a sure job at the end of it so I was always open to starting my own business. The hood part of the dress starting selling on it’s own quite well, and so I sort of carried on with that really. And they were on trend for a few years and then the clothing starting to develop after that.

So you would sort of make clothes for yourself before you had a company?
Not really! I had a sewing machine and I did a little bit at college. But really I just decided ‘I’m going to make clothes now’, and that’s what I did.

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What has been your biggest learning curve?
God, right now! I took out a loan last year that I wasn’t ready for and it kind of got spent on nothing really, whereas it should have been spent on a collection to sort of sell on.The economy slumped at the same time and it kind of just got spent on keeping me going, without actually being invested in making more money in the future. So now I’ve ended up with higher outgoing.
I think the appreciation of money and being more organised has probably been my biggest learning curve last year. Not getting too complacent.
Also, when my hoods were on trend that died out really quickly, and I had to completely change my game plan in a way to start making more clothing. So that as well, just to keep aware that a sure product doesn’t last forever, you’ve always got to stay on your toes. You can never rest on your laurels for more than a second.

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
I look at a lot of early day war costumes, like Centurians and tribal war outfits, and period costume as a basis for my costume side, or the more alternative stuff. And then most of the brand stuff is using of lots of color and geometric patterns. I lived for awhile in Tokyo and studied architecture out there, and did lots of painting to do with art and architecture and optical illusions and stuff, so it’s kind of based around that
That will come out more when I have more freedom to do my own prints – now it’s a lot more just based around prints I find in shops because I haven’t got the capital to do my own yet.
And I’m also obsessed with the 80s and 90s so a lot of my work has a sort of retro feel to it as well.

When you’re making your clothes who do you imagine wearing them?
We started off doing festival clothing so it’s kind of always been 16-35 kind of festival people. It’s kind of like having one of those statement pieces, where you could put on say one of our jackets and wear a really simple outfit. So, people who are a little bit bold and a little bit fashionable but don’t have to be all-out crazy can sort of do that as well. Comfortable, fun but really bright and bold clothing – like an easy way of jazzing up your wardrobe.

There’s an obvious link between your clothing and music – which musician would you most like to dress?
Sia. Just because I’m obsessed with her, I’d do anything to dress her. What she’s done with her music and her music videos is just ridiculous. And I like the fact that she doesn’t show her face. I think because I specialise in headwear and do a lot of jackets that works well with her not really showing her face.
I only realised recently that she used to be the singer for Zero 7, who were one of my first ever festival memories so, yeah!

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See more of FUUD London’s designs at fuudlondon.com

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