However, for a designer with global ambitions, profile and retailers, production of the brand remains very local. Mr. Crutchley has no studio. He has no team, no interns. Instead, he works with freelancers and a single factory in the London suburb of Wood Green, with most of his fabrics printed around the block. At a time when social responsibility is a hotter topic in fashion than ever before, he remains committed to the concept.
“If you tell me you love one of my coats, I can tell you the name of every person who has put their hands on it, right back to the weaving of the fabric. That’s all down to the relationships I have built with my suppliers,” Mr. Crutchley said. “Sustainability means something different for everyone in this business. But I would challenge my contemporaries to be able to do the same. It would be really interesting to see how many of them actually could. For me, that type of supply chain is a big part of my luxury offering.”
That Mr. Crutchley can operate at that level also reflects the size of his business: For all the insider hype, it remains extremely small. And while not actively looking for investment (he is the sole owner), nor a creative director position at a major design house, Mr. Crutchley was notably upfront about being open to opportunities that might come his way.
Indeed, pragmatism appeared to be another of his hallmarks, whether explaining his move into women’s wear — a fast-growing part of his business, representing around 60 percent of sales, though for now he plans to continue showing on the men’s calendar — or discussing his customers, whom he believes skew a little older than for most London-based designers and encompass doctors, professional soccer players, actors and Moroccan royalty.
“Personally, I don’t think it is especially modern to tell people what they should be wearing. I think you simply make a proposal and let people choose what they want,” Mr. Crutchley said.
“As much as London fashion likes to go on about gender fluidity and being able to do whatever you like, there are very few men out there who are actually going to wear a ball gown,” he continued. “Many more, however, are still looking for alternatives from the mainstream. Something that will make them stand out in a crowd. That’s where I come in.”