Two Brave Brands

As we all know, brands must live and breathe innovation to stay relevant. But the practice is not as much about marketability or promoting allure as one might think; it is in reality, more about fostering authenticity. For innovation to ring true to consumers, it must come from the core of the brand, rooted in a thoughtful and continuous process of genuine rebirth – or it risks feeling like a desperate gimmick. This process is anything but easy, and worth applauding when brands have the bravery to do it well. Today, we’ll highlight two brands that have shown their mettle in spades. Both are European and internationally celebrated; while one is much younger than the other, both are achieving innovation in ways that speak volumes artistically, socially, culturally and economically.

Available at the busy Dover Street Market in London and in countries like France, Switzerland, Kuwait, Japan, China, Korea and Canada, the namesake-clothing brand of Faye Toogood is an ongoing project of the British artist and fashion designer. Her academic training in fine arts coupled with her hands-on experience in the magazine industry has been a major force behind both of her practices: art and fashion.

Collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations, as well as participating in prestigious design festivals, Toogood has been integrating both of her disciplines quite seamlessly. Fusing her sculptural work with fashion, and applying a discriminating, multi-dimensional, artistic sensibility, she has been pushing the boundaries of her craft not only aesthetically, but also socially and politically. And her brief but sharp manifestos couldn’t be any clearer about Toogood’s moral convictions, in case anyone should wonder. At Arts & Labour, we enjoy the courageous and truly inspiring forward motion Faye Toogood’s work exemplifies.

Known for its everyday household objects, iittala, has been inspiring lovers of good design with its elegant functionality since the 19th century, and continues to do so today. It’s clear by their actions that iitalla’s enthusiasm is for making perfectly desirable objects more than it is for making marketplace noise.

Since its beginnings, the brand has focused its efforts on collaborating with an impressive array of visionary international designers and growing its reputation not only in Finland, but also across continents. Their most recent collaboration with the Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, notable for his innovative work with pleats, has culminated in a collection of high-quality ceramics, glass and home textiles titled Pause for Harmony. Iittala’s Scandinavian sensibilities united with Miyake’s expression of Japanese serenity went even further. The collaboration was launched with a series of art installations allowing consumers to experience the story behind the collaboration in a peaceful and harmonious way, making its mark quietly, yet deeply as iittala prefers.

Bravo to both brands. Your nerve and authenticity inspire us.