The Experimental Journey That Lead to Fuud London
Louise Fuud, the woman behind Fuud London and Stume is a creative genius. She operates her two fashion businesses single-handedly and has just launched her new collection - Fuud Reborn; green, sustainable and plastic free apparel. I got in touch with Louise to chat about her brand journey, sustainability and what inspires her.
Alice: Where did your fashion designer journey start?
Louise: I always wanted to be a fashion designer. I always thought right I’m either going to be a show jumper or a fashion designer, I did the show jumping for a bit and then just sort of fell into fashion. Everyone at Uni went mad for fancy dress. I made animal costumes with hoods on for my friends, but everyone really loved them. I made a few more and got offered a little stall at a Bristol festival, and then I was like to my friend do you want to just get a studio and see what happens? So we did. We started doing festivals together, and I made the hoods detachable [from the costumes] and put fur in them. Everyone loved them, that’s how the ‘fuud hoods’ were born. Everything happened by accident really.
Alice: Did you study fashion at Uni?
Louise: fine art, I found the fashion course too restrictive.
Alice: At what point from having fun at festivals with the hoods to now did you think right, this is my career now?
Louise: Oh straight away really. Going straight into festivals with festival wear meant there was always the demand, so we were like selling selling selling. That was the start off it all. I’ve always known that I wouldn’t work for anyone else, I’ve always known that I would start my own business. I’m a workaholic so there wasn’t really any sort of decision of right I will do this full time, it just was. So from then we were doing like 5 to 8 festivals each year, then doing markets in London every weekend, so yeah full pelt from the minute I left uni.
Alice: How have your designs developed and changed since the hoods?
Louise: It’s been a weird journey. The hoods were doing really well at festivals, it was consistent work until the hoods kind of stopped trending and died a bit of a death. Then I had loads of printed festival onesies that sold really well at the same time. But then when I moved to London I started doing quite experimental collections. I lost a lot of my traction and regular customers because I was just going down this really experimental journey. One minute I was putting out like a recycled denim collection and the next minute it would a pvc bondage. Cool to look back on, but not right for keeping a customer base. I got a few Instagram messages like ‘I really like your page but what are you?’ ‘Are you a collective or one designer?’ And just from that I ended up taking other jobs so I ended up doing costume and bits and pieces. So then I split off last year to make my fuud part of the business and experimental part of the business [Stume] separate and so easier for people to understand.
Alice: What has inspired your different collections?
Louise: My visual inspiration is like eighties warriors and battle armour. A lot of fur capes, and armour and the statement of going into battle sort of vibe. I kind of take inspiration from what I see in a shop, I saw pvc in a shop and thought oh that’s really interesting. No one was really using anything like it at the time so I was like right what can I make out of it? Also starting out a business I didn’t have the money behind me to just choose whatever I wanted, so that’s why you just take inspiration from what’s available in the shops. But generally my running theme is warriors, eighties and a bit of geometry.
Alice: Now you’ve landed on sports wear, why that?
Louise: Bristols always been a sort of free party leisure wear vibe. And that’s where I started. Tracksuits, I think actually the first ever collection on the website is actually a tracksuit. When I started sportswear then I started taking old tracksuits apart and putting bits back together and sort of customising them that way. I’ve always kind of done it along side but it had never been my 100% thing. So when last year I was kind of like what’s the easiest thing to take on as a full time brand and I was like, well the tracksuits. They are sort of my statement look. And its good because it’s not a collection where you need different materials for the jackets and the tops and whatever. It’s kind of like you know one fabric with lots of different colours. Also obviously the whole leisure wear trend that’s really grown over the last couple of years, it’s just easier. This for me is a simple way, and I do really enjoy making them.
Alice: You use amazing patterns and prints. Do you design them yourself?
Louise: Yeah. In the past couple years all the geometric type patterns I have designed. Architectural graffiti is what they are based on.
Alice: When you decided on the sustainable route how did you source the materials to use?
Louise: Research. Literally, going to talks and seminars and spending hours and hours on the computer researching. TED talks, all that kind of thing.
Alice: Why did you want to make that move to have a sustainable brand?
Louise: I’ve always wanted to make a change – I don’t really like the fashion industry, catwalk and all that stuff, I wanted to be different and do something good with it. Essentially I’ve always been sustainable in a manner of speaking. It’s always been handmade, when I did use polyester it was from a UK mill. I just got sick of the whole scene. It’s not just about where your garment is made. You can have a sequin jacket that has been made in the UK, but then you know, where are the sequins from? And they are still plastic. So I just wanted to go down the route of having a higher purpose for my brand and not just be making pretty clothes. I’ve always been quite eco activist and had concerns with the environment so this was natural progression for my brand.
Alice: have you had a positive response to the new collection?
Louise: Yeah it’s been really good. I’ve been at a few talks and on a few podcasts talking about it. I really want to do more public speaking and talk about my progression and transition. It’s quite surprising actually. You kind of assume that everyone is doing it but actually, they aren’t.
Alice: There’s so much information out there that you would think should make people want to take a more sustainable route. What do you think is stopping people?
Louise: Probably the cost and the effort. It is a lot of hard work and it’s hard to make money. It is really hard to be fully sustainable. There’s so much too it. So many questions, like where’s the original yarn from? Is it certified organic cotton? And then where is the factory it’s been knitted in and what about the dyes and finish? You know, a lot to think about. The transport even. It’s quite a journey to undertake. But if you’re willing you can take it. So then for some people, maybe they just don’t care?
Alice: In terms of sustainability, is there anything you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
Louise: This year I want to work on the dying. I want to work with a natural dyer. You can buy a roll of plain white fabric and then dye it with all natural dyes. Ultimately I’d love to have 100% organic product but that’s a bit of a minefield at the moment really. The sustainable lifestyle is really elite, I could sell my stuff like my sweatshirts for double the price, but then the thing is I don’t want to sell to that customer.
Alice: Finally, what is it that you love about fashion?
Louise: I just like making. I just like creating. I’m an artist. I see it as a different canvas. I like creating new pieces. I think about what I can make next. Fuud changed that, we switch up the colours and patterns but the collection and style stays the same. But with my costume it’s my creative outlet and I can use my ideas and experiments in that.