How times flies! It was two years ago that I first heard about new British brand King & Tuckfield. East London based with a strong confident take on denim and merino and a decisive colour palette. I wore the soft pink backless knit and received loads of love for it from passerbys and friends…
Being based in East London as well, it was only a matter of time before I had to pay a visit and find out more! And I’m so glad I did. Meeting the dynamic and inspiring founder Stacey Wood was an absolute treat (turns out we’re practically neighbours!) and I could have hung out in the lovely Spitalfields studio and chatted all day. I am already a huge fan of the elegant merino tee which is the just the easiest thing to pull on with jeans day or night, and this navy cashmere/wool knit is an incredible fit and so snug. Do check out the bestselling merino wrap neck knit, and the backless body is an amazing party top as is this cotton cross back top – super pretty! The pleat trousers are another sell-out item, every colour always going fast.
The story woven (almost literally!) into the brand is wonderfully romantic and charming, all based around Stacey’s intriguing family – her grandmother, a ballet dancer and father, also a ballet dancer but a tailor, war veteran and miner too. Understanding the lengths Stacey has gone to incorporate elements of their stories into the clothes (from pink seems and folds to symbolise the ballet connection and using the highest quality merino from New Zealand in reference to army uniform dressing) she creates is hugely impressive and endlessly inspiring. Read on to hear it all in her own words…
How did King & Tuckfield get started?
I wanted to make sure I learnt as much from other people as I could. I worked for Replay Blue Jeans and relaunched them; there I learnt all about wholesale and made contacts. I then worked for British clothes brand cGio Goi – I went there because I wanted to learn about product design, product and the backend. And then at London agency Zone 2, where, as head of womenswear, I looked after many different aspects of the business; I learnt about shipping, wholesale and the backend of the business.
In my interview, my boss asked me that question you get in interviews: ‘What do you want to be doing in five years’ time?’. Well, five years later, for AW16, while still working fulltime, I launched my own brand! I was lucky to bring on Janelle Hannah, who used to be head of design at Wrangler; at the time she was living in Antwerp and would travel backwards and forwards.
Can you tell us about the name and the family stories that inspired it?
It’s named after my grandmother and my father. My grandmother is King, she was a 1940s ballet dancer called Joan Marion King (1918-2011) born just after the First World War. Everything we do on womenswear is about her with a twist. So we have wrap neck knits to represent the ballet top, we have belt wrap dresses and we have pink selvedge seams on the denim to represent the ballet. We take inspiration from my grandmother and the 40s & 50s and try to do it in a contemporary way.
Tuckfield is my father – Graham Aubrey Tuckfield (1925-1987) – who died when I was seven. He was a lot older than my mother. He was a ballet dancer from the age of seven. In the Second World War he was sent down the mines and at the age of 16 he swapped identities with his cousin to become a paratrooper. After that he trained as a tailor and then went back to dance, where he met my mother. We use 100% merino, sustainable from New Zealand, not cotton for our t-shirts, because merino was worn beneath the army uniforms. We use selvedge denim because it was worn down the mines and it was a hardwearing fabric. These links to my family story make us love them more warmly, but we use them because they are great functional materials that last a lifetime; the more you wear one of our garments, the more history it creates. And we use pink lining to represent the ballet.
What type of clothes did you hope to create?
We don’t follow trends. We just do what we feel is right for the brand. Also everything we do and everything we make across mens and womenswear is how things used to be made. We don’t want big production lines, we want to be able to go and sit with the machinist – we use a few factories in London as well – and if we have to change the needles we’ll change the needles and make sure that everything is made perfectly, taking into consideration my father’s history. We try and be as en pointe as we possibly can! We use the best quality fabrics; we source from the UK, Italy, Portugal and our denim comes from Japan.
And your favourite / most loved pieces?
People are really drawn to our denim and merino, which is quite good as they are our two main things. Our number one selling piece in winter is this super soft merino top. As soon as it lands on the shop floor it just goes. In the first season we had it in vanilla and black and it would just sell out!