Second Look | One Nine Zero Six’s Dean Webster speaks about design, fabrics and british manufacturing

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Second Look | One Nine Zero Sixs Dean Webster speaks about design, fabrics and british manufacturing

By this point you’ve probably read a little bit about One Nine Zero Six. You’ll also probably have noticed that we’ve taken quite the shine to the brand. So to find out more, we spoke to Dean Webster, man behind the brand to find out a little more about it.

SL: As the premium menswear arm of Gymphlex (a developer and manufacturer of sportswear and workwear, dressing English schoolkids, British sporting champions and the Military for over 100 years), One Nine Zero Six has a rich seam of archive material to mine – so, whether literally, figuratively or emotively, what inspired your debut AW11 collection?

ONZS: All of the aforementioned. Emotively, the debut collection does reference the company’s past affiliations but with what is hopefully, a visibly progressive interpretation of that history to the observer. As a debut collection, certain aspects that should have been present in the collection were either overlooked or not developed in time. Having said that, I believe a statement of future intent was initiated in the debut collection and that we have since built upon and developed those positives for season two.

SL: And what’s inspired the SS12 collection?

ONZS: I believe that a real sense of ‘Britishness’, ‘youth’ and ‘sportswear’ is at the heart of what Gymphlex as a company has been about for the past 105 years and is now strongly reflected in the product offer. The handwriting or signature of the collection is starting to unfold and as such, is more apparent and relevant to the company profile and background. This is something that we shall continue to research and explore over coming seasons and as we further develop and refine both the product and visual identity of the brand.

SL: You’ve said that the forthcoming SS12 collection is a big leap forwards for your ‘SuperNormal’ brand; so how have you developed since producing AW11?

ONZS: The collection for season two has a much more ’rounded’ product offer; hand screened prints have been added to give a new graphic edge and we’ve also added a layer of luxury soft tailoring to the collection. Again, we’re utilising quality, craft and technique to progress the stylistic viewpoint in how the collection is both produced and looks.

SL: You work with high quality British manufacturers (from Fox Brothers for flannel to Savile Row tailors and artisanal jersey makers), all specialists in their fields. Have you brought any new talents onboard since AW 11 and are you actively looking to widen the collaborative stable going forwards?

ONZS: We’ve continued the links established from season one with both Fox Brothers & Ventile and continue to work and develop our relationships with a tight group of makers and mills. In terms of fabrics, Halley Stevenson (Dundee) waxed poplin and two new mills from Italy that specialize in shirting and jersey development have been added to give a new dimension to the product spread.

There are a few possibilities for us to consider regarding collaborative projects, which we’re in the initial stages of discussing, so perhaps the timing to say who

with is a little premature. All I shall say at this time is that we’re making significant friends with whom it’ll be an exciting prospect to work with.

SL: That being said, are there any new exclusive fabrics to be found in the forthcoming SS12 collection, or perhaps there’s some new entries on your wish-list that you hope to get your hands on?

ONZS: The aim at present is to continue to progress forward in a considered fashion and to create a demand for the brand in the premium marketplace, so we’re really looking to reinforce and consolidate upon what’s already been accomplished rather than make too many changes to the structure of the collection at present.

However, there’s always a wish list.

SL: Since One Nine Zero Six began burning up the blogosphere last spring; has your outlook on the state of British manufacturing changed?

ONZS: No. It’s still a work in progress for us, although we’ve since found new makers in a couple of key category areas, which is an exciting prospect we’re looking to develop and incorporate into the collection for forthcoming seasons.

SL: Historically a “quiet” brand here in the UK, Gymphlex began selling to the Japanese market – to some acclaim – way back in 1990. What was/is the difference between the UK and Japanese attitudes to fashion?

ONZS: Mmm… A very interesting question and one that I can’t find an easy or immediate answer to. There are both many similarities and differences between the two markets and cultures. However, we work on the premise that both the UK & Japan works with and understands quality, craft and historical values but tempers those attributes with a love of modernity and individuality also at this market level. An exciting mix for us to work with and one that I feel we at One Nine Zero Six by Gymphlex have in our ‘locker’.

SL: You have spoken before of a desire to “develop” and “push forward” with the concept, brand and product – so what kind of avenues are you looking to explore over the coming seasons and in the longer term?

ONZS: That would indeed be telling. You’ll just have to be patient…

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