Make no mistake, the Brothers We Stand arrivals lounge is a first class travel experience. We’re talking leather Lazyboys, ethical Martinis, the best-dressed bartenders in town- and that’s before you mention the big names coming through.
One arrival that’s got us buzzing is London-based art and clothing label Plane Clothing. Started by husband and wife team Gerry and Charlotta Buxton in 2005, they’ve been knocking out some truly beautiful screen-printed tees and sweats. That’s in between finding time to headline art exhibitions, undertake projects in New York and foster a pretty revolutionary approach to their product sourcing.
I caught up with Gerry in the Plane Studio in Hoxton for a few words about t-shirts, art and the future of fair trade.
Hello Gerry. What’s the story behind Plane Clothing?
I studied design in Edinburgh, and when I graduated I came down to London to start making t-shirts - that was the summer of 2004. In 2005 I started selling them on the markets in East London, and I’ve pretty much been doing it ever since. After a couple of years I moved in to the studio here, and I shared with a couple of other guys. Eventually they dropped off and it became my space.
What do you think makes a great t-shirt?
I think there probably isn’t one- I think there’s a great t-shirt for each person. For every t-shirt, I just try to design something that works on its own and accept that some people are going to really like it and some aren’t.
But it’s a great canvas for an artist, and a chance for people to express something different about themselves.
What are the biggest inspirations fuelling Plane clothing?
All the prints are from photographs I’ve taken, and a lot of my work has been inspired by architecture. In the run up to the Olympics, I wanted to do London prints, but I didn’t want to do Big Ben or the London Eye- I wanted to do Londoners buildings, buildings that Londoners could identify with.
So that was the start of it, that was when I did the Trellick Tower, and the Barbican Centre, the Shard – They’re Londoners buildings. That was the start of the buildings, and that’s the trip I’m on now. We’ve literally just today been out to the Hackney Empire, and we’ve just started the prints for that. I wanted to do a really Hackney one, because we’ve been in East London for so long, so I thought, nothing says Hackney like a building that literally says Hackney on the side.
The beginnings of a new print.
From the Highline Artwork
Are there any particular artists you look up to?
I think there’s a few, and for different reasons, not always because of the work that they’re doing. I used to have a stall next to this guy called Dan Hillier at the Up Market and I’ve watched him become very successful. It’s very inspiring to see someone from the same scene go on to become something quite successful.
I’ve always been quite inspired by Pop artists, that would be the big inspiration. Right from Litchenstein through to Warhol. When I first started, Banksy was quite an inspiration. Just the simplicity of the prints- at that stage I was just doing one colour stencils.
You’ve always been deliberate about making sure your products are fair trade. Why is this so important to you?
Yes, since we started out, it’s important that no one suffers as a result of us making a t-shirt and ultimately, us making money. We pick suppliers that we like, with good ethics. And we’d rather pay a little bit more and work with people with good ethics rather than focusing just on the price.
We’re all about the product, and whatever we can do to make the product better; better for the end consumer, better for the manufacturers, and for everyone throughout the whole process.
[We’ve been hugely impressed with Plane Clothing’s supply chain. Their t-shirts are manufactured in Bangladesh by a supplier who are showing that it is possible to produce in Bangladesh and ensure working conditions are fair and safe. Their sweatshirts are made in India in a wind powered factory where workers needs are prioritized. Trailblazers.]
What’s the future for Plane clothing?
I think we’ll just keep going. We’re diversifying a bit- we’ll always keep the range of t-shirts and sweatshirts coming, but we’re also doing more limited edition art prints and some art shows.
The Plane Clothing range has now landed on Brothers We Stand, and if you’d like to get your hands on the spoils you can do just that right ici.
From the Highline T-shirt and Sweatshirt
Interview by our man Jack Wells.