Having been united by their shared interests and frustrations when it came to the conversations around the menswear market and sustainability, Martin Parker and Alan Baker joined forces to form Leeds based brand, Cut&Pin. Launching with their debut collection at the end of 2020, although still relatively new, the vibe from customers is only of positive and happy vibes, with people of all genders eager to get their hands on some of the brand’s quality signature pieces.
With Cut&Pin creating a community which looks to celebrate the true meaning of sustainable fashion, I sat down with Co-Founder and Creative Director, Martin Parker to find out more.
Martin, wonderful to welcome you to DARKUS. Tell us a little bit about what has been keeping you upbeat and thankful these past number of weeks?
Well sometimes with lockdown it is quite difficult to remain upbeat isn’t it, especially when you are working from home. Starting the new season though has been a massive plus though. We launched at the end of last year which has had a really good reaction that we are pleased about the way it’s going. In terms of moving forward it is about planning ahead and thinking about the new collection. It is certainly keeping me going.
How have both yourself and Al found this past year in terms of the effects of the global pandemic on one hand, and elevating the name of Cut&Pin on the other?
I think I speak for everyone when I say that the pandemic has been very challenging. For any entrepreneurs or anyone setting up their business, there couldn’t have been a worse year, although having said that a lot of experts have said it is probably the best time to set a business up. One of the biggest things for me, especially as fashion is all about people and meeting people including suppliers, its been about the communication and keeping that going. The whole thing of working from home is a question of keeping yourself motivated and keeping those communication flows going. You don’t want people to lose interest or even that drive to diminish. The hardest thing is keeping everyone excited about what we are doing as a brand. Our suppliers have equally had their own challenges especially with staff members being put on furlough so it has not been easy. The good news though is that we are slowly starting to come out of it, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Before we delve into Cut&Pin 2021, let’s rewind back a few chap- ters to that moment where two friends from Leeds came together to celebrate a shared vision.
What is great about me and Al is that we have become great friends because we had an instant connection - similar humour, similar music tastes and a good liking for a laugh and a beer, which was the first part. The second was that we shared similar ideas and view- points as well as a similar look in the things that we like, so it seemed very easy and natural for us to set up a menswear business together. The frustrations we had about the menswear market that was on offer, we both had a bee in our bonet about the whole sustainability
angle but also what menswear was about and what it was offering and was it good enough for the money that what you paying.
What I really love about Cut&Pin from what I have learned so far is the care you take when it comes to selecting textures and fabrics whilst also ensuring the products are sustainable too. How has your understanding changed of what sustainable fashion is and isn’t?
I think first and foremost when we set up the concept for Cut&Pin in 2019, we were very aware that the world was already changing, especially surrounding sustainability in fashion. At the same time there was also this big discussion about fashion being this big machine that has a really impact on the planet and the environ- ment. For me therefore as the two of us have started this journey, the biggest thing for me is that sustainability is not just about the fabrics you choose or the way it is made. For example we use a lot of organic cotton, and what people sometimes don’t realise is that is grown in a different way to normal cotton. We are also using recycled fabrics too. The other thing about sustainability is that it is about educating the customer and teaching people that fashion is meant to be fast, it is not meant to be disposable, fashion can instead be kept for a long time, if looked after and cared for properly. There is a huge thing about circular fashion and I think that is really key, because it shows that sustainability is also fashion you can hand down to generations to come or gets put into a designer resale without the fear of it ending up in landfill. Moving forward with Cut&Pin I would like to think we could use even more recycled fabrics.
As a child of the 70s and 80s, when I compare it to now, the attitudes to fashion was so different, and the culture of fast fashion didn’t really exist. For me certainly, I saw clothes as a luxury really, so if you wanted something you would not only have to save up for it but also look after it too. We have to try and get those values back.
In terms of influences, when doing a bit of digging around I was really intrigued to see that you cite the creative David Hockney as being one of your inspirations. What is it about his work that really resonates and connects to you, and how do you feel those inspirations transcend into your own ethos as a menswear brand?
First of all he is a fellow Yorkshire man, so that helps haha! I have always been a fan of Hockney since I was a student back in the 90s, so I have always loved his work. The other thing was also his style which is very eclectic and still looks cool for somebody his age, has got a great spirit about him and it was more about his style than his actual artwork. The way he mixes these classic pieces and makes them look quite quirky, so there were some hallmarks and some elements of his that I quite liked for our collection such as the striped t-shirts and the colour tops.
Sometimes it’s easy for people to assume that fashion HQ will be in somewhere like London, so it is always a breath of fresh air for me when I hear brands such as yours are based in an equally awesome city which will always have my heart, Leeds. Being based here in the north, has been a smooth process of getting the Cut&Pin name out there?
I have always loved Leeds. I have lived in London for a lot of my life but ended up returning because ever since clubbing in the early 90s, Leeds has always continued to be a brilliant city which is always vibrant. I love how Leeds is also famed for its musical heritage as well, so I love all of that. The way I see it going back to your question, the world has changed. Not everything has to be London centric anymore. People are looking elsewhere for new talents and new things that are happening across the country in these major cities.
If you were to summarise the growth and journey of Cut&Pin based on the chapter you are at now, what are some of special highlights which you will also be most grateful for?
I think actually designing something that our customers want and building a community, that is the thing I am most grateful for. It might sound a little cheesy but it is true. I have seen on our social media that our customers are not just men, their are women buying our garments too so they can wear it for themselves so that is really cool. It is also great with the community we are building. We are creating something that resonates with them. It is quite exciting to be part of a trend in fashion where anyone can wear what they want now. Yes we are a menswear label but that is not to say we don’t appeal to all genders.
As you continue to evolve, how can us consumers play our part in the Cut&Pin journey?
By just supporting what we are doing, and hopefully buying a few of our items as well which would help haha! First and foremost though is showing us support especially as a new brand and understand what we are trying to do and achieve, and that is fashion which is going to have less of an impact on the environment.
Thank you to Martin for giving us all little insight into the world of Cut&Pin. We look forward to seeing more brilliant collections in the months and years to come.
Thank you Thushara S. Chandrasiri