For Goot, exhausted by the stress of running his own brand, this new venture has proved to be a salve, and revelation that there is a different way to do fashion business that doesn’t involve running the gauntlet of constant collections under the demands of so many interested third parties.
“This business model is personal to us. It’s a different thing to doing a collection and thinking not of what you want, but what’s going to sell, what will the press shoot, what’s this store going to want. You’re not bound by delivery dates dictated by the stores, or the season the cycle says it is, you can do whatever you want.”
Everything is sold through their own website (globally, and with shipping included in the price so no pricey customs surprises), which also means they have a direct line to their customers – and they can react and adapt to their feedback.
While Goot works on the line full time, Centenera offers the stylist’s eye, and her wealth of experience from dressing women of all ages and shapes. The idea is that these are pieces that will work for as broad a demographic as possible.
“It’s democratic,” she offers, adding that the concept of buying several items together allows them to stamp their authority on the aesthetic. To an extent you’re buying into their (very refined) taste – Centenera has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram.
“Often there are pieces that you have to put on to understand how they’ll work,” she said.
In the first tailoring pack there was an A-line skirt, “which people probably wouldn’t have picked out if it was a single item for sale online” but once they tried it … “they could see that it’s really great”.
The sportswear drop was born out of her frustrations of not being able to find non-branded items to wear as foundation layers. Goot explains that this lack of labelling is part of the philosophy.
“There’s no branding. We think of it as the opposite of fast fashion. We’re trying to make forever clothes that don’t go out of style. It’s timeless.”
In this vein, they have had the time to develop and really consider what makes the best version of these true classic pieces. Goot is reassuringly design-geeky on details such as necklines.
“They take time to get right,” he said. “The balance between the back neck and the front neck is important. I like the back neck to sit high and the front to sit just on the collar bone. We spent a lot of time on little things like that.”
Centenera gets their friends to try it all on, “so we get feedback from people who are of all sizes, which is really helpful.” The fabrics – mostly natural – are all soft, easy to wear and hang in that considered “just-so” style.
“We don’t want to do anything that will be dated,” she said. Which in some ways, as they see it, is the true luxury. Clothes that are thoughtfully designed, mindfully put together to take the effort out of getting dressed and in rich, durable, beautifully made fabrications.
The idea is to partner with a bigger brand for each drop. In this sportswear one, they have developed a pair of trainers with adidas. For £500 ($911) you get those, two tops, cycling shorts and leggings. For £1,000 ($1821), add in a another top, windbreaker, tracksuit sweater and bottoms and a gym bag. Now that they have established the concept, they are aiming for up to four capsule collections a year and will start to play around with the capsule concept – pick your own five pieces, for example. A thoughtful work in progress, refreshingly not in thrall to any fly-by trend.
It is obviously priced at a luxury level, but it’s a neat proposition, certainly appealing to anyone bored by the endless cycle of fashion. Buy once, buy well and keep forever.
The Daily Telegraph