90 ATTIRE Lost and FOUND Katy Bell invites us into her Islington boutique, Lost Property of London to talk about her strong design background, dislike for waste and the brand’s ‘rough luxe’ aesthetic Tell me about your career background before launching the boutique. I studied Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, graduating in 2006 with a BA(Hons). During the second year of my three-year degree course, I was talent scouted by the infamous Julius Schofield of InDesign Agency, and was fortunate enough to sell many designs to Calvin Klein and Jones of New York. After graduating I received a paid internship at Liberty of London as a designer, working on creative projects from bedding and fabrics through to jewellery. In early 2007, I landed my first job at Ny-Lon Design as a junior print designer, working on creative briefs for brands including Li and Fung, Crate and Barrel of New York and Andrew Martin. I then spent three years working for an established self-employed London-based Set Designer, which proved to be a real insight and learning curve, allowing me to see what it takes to run your own business. Looking back, this was inspirational to my decision to set up my own brand. What prompted you to launch the business? I hate waste, and I didn’t enjoy designing to a corporate template. Plus, having spent time working in both the fashion and interior design sectors, I became increasingly frustrated with the wastefulness of the fast-fashion culture at the time. Products were being designed at breakneck speed, with little care and attention over the design and material used, and manufactured internationally to a very low quality. I’ve always been a hunter-gatherer, salvaging vintage fabrics, furniture and objects and refurbishing and reimagining them as things I could wear or put in my home. In fact, many of my college projects were focused on an upcycling philosophy, which was the conceptual underpinning for the Lost Property of London brand. Our first product was a reversible tote shopper crafted from salvaged jute coffee sacks and surplus Liberty Art Fabric, which we launched in collaboration with Liberty. We went on to design several other products in a signature ‘rough luxe’ aesthetic, and began stocking through Liberty and other reputable international stockists, as well as our own online shop. How did you decide on the concept of the shop? Today the brand has grown, and our house style has evolved to blend the robustness and timelessness of English saddlery with a modern minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic. So, it was important that our boutique embodied and exhibited our style. We feel our boutique in Islington – on the ground floor of a Victorian town house – reflects our values of traditional craftsmanship, quality of design and materials, and community. Every bag we exhibit in our boutique and sell to our customers is made by hand less than 10 miles away in our east London factory. This idea of local provenance is something that helps us engage with shoppers in a way that other bigger brands just can’t do. What accessory lines do you offer and how does this support the rest of your product offering? We have a core collection, consisting of four style families in classic, signature colourways. The core range mainly caters for women, but we also have some unisex pieces that have a more masculine feel and appeal to both men and women. Our seasonal collections introduce fresh colours on a theme and new textures delivered through natural fabrics, such as wools, linens and canvases that we source from trusted artisans and suppliers in the UK. How would you describe the presentation of the boutique? The boutique is clean, simple and bright – a canvas to show off our products. It’s simply furnished and propped with vintage and antique items we’ve salvaged and collected over the years, including a beautiful antique oak, glass and brass cabinet that we use to display small products and package customer orders. How important is location to your business? Very important. Islington is a great location for us, as it attracts shoppers who perfectly fit our demographic. As we are located just off the very busy Upper Street, we’re amongst other independent brands and retailers that help contribute to footfall. Lost Property of London is part of a close community, and we all regularly hold events and promotions that means everyone benefits from increased visitors to the street.