Hockin is a name you’ll soon be hearing a lot more often. It’s the surname of CSM alumni Charlotte, who has been quietly working away as a freelance designer since graduating in 2006. After years spent gaining experience with high street and high-end brands, building relationships with factories in Italy as a result, the time has finally come for this reserved talent to stand in the spotlight.
Charlotte has the finesse to focus on every detail of her label, which consists of unlined separates in simple yet striking shapes, crafted from lightweight double-faced cashmere. She is aware of the competition, having worked on various brands for years, and is conscious of pricing and production – skills that come from a career spent focusing on the finer details. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without that experience,” she admits, acknowledging that her time at CSM didn’t necessarily provide her with the skills for a sustainable career. “I would have known how to make a great dress, but I wouldn’t have known how to execute it or how to coincide with brands who are doing exactly the same thing but everyone knows about them.”
What prompted her to start her line was an overwhelming sense that, having gathered this experience, the time was right. “I was always scared to because it’s so much more than just clothes. It’s everything in between, like this interview, reaching out to buyers, making sure you have a good relationship with factories, making sure you can produce it in the same way you’re showing.”
After receiving the support of a factory in Italy that also works with Prada and Givenchy, the ball began to roll. Her first port of call was gathering the imagery and references that would inform her aesthetic, and having come of age during the golden years of Jil Sander, Calvin Klein and photographers such as Corinne Day and Juergen Teller, it was the clean line of 90s minimalism that presented itself as the overarching influence.
“I think the words ‘minimalism’ and ‘clean’ have been overused and not necessarily for the right things, which means it can be misconstrued,” she carefully stresses. “It’s really hard to describe the collection I’ve put together because you don’t want to use the same words everyone has used for years – they don’t convey anything anymore. That’s why I realised what I want it to be is revealing the beauty of construction.”
The collection is cleverly crafted with ingenious design detailing. A number of the double-faced cashmere pieces are designed to be reversible, with the seams featuring as a detail. Colour combinations of icy pale-blue and sandy camel, indigo and emerald green, and ecru and natural tan all echo the muted ethos of the label.
“When I was building the collection I had to make sure there was something for everyone, which is very hard to do when you’re creating your first collection,” says Charlotte. “I had to amalgamate the two elements so that there are graphic, playful parts and also quieter pieces that are more wearable. The shapes I’ve created aren’t about drama – they’re about the beauty of how you can construct garments in a slightly different way.”
Not a single garment in the collection is lined. Hockin has employed a unique hand-crafted process, which allows the fabric to be lightweight and double-faced with exposed seams that are finished with seam tape and often cut in the shape of inverted pockets that one would usually find in the lining of a coat or dress. It’s the kind of thoughtful detail that comes from a thorough understanding of the ways clothes are constructed.
As for the intended customer, it’s clear Charlotte has drawn considerably from her own lifestyle. “I’m normally quite a tomboy. I don’t dress up. As you get older, especially as a woman – I’m in my thirties now – I feel like I still want to wear clothes that are feminine but don’t make you feel childish. When you’re young you just do your thing, but when you’re working – I know it sounds boring, but being in meetings and things like that – I’m conscious of wanting people to know I’m experienced from how I look.“
There’s no doubt about it: Charlotte’s experience is an asset to envy.
This interview originally appears in 1 Granary’s third print issue. All photography by Kirill Kuletski.