Founders of uber cool fashion label 'Draw in Light' Polly Wilkinson and Harriet Barford talk techniques, inspiration and spray painting jeans in Brixton
Hidden away in a muddy yard off Mile End road lies the home of Draw in Light, the fashion label founded by Polly Wilkinson and Harriet Barford in 2009.
Although the dull exterior may give off an industrial vibe, as soon as you climb the metal stairs that lead into the studio it’s clear you’re in a happy hub of creativity. Whitewashed walls adorned with cut out images become one huge moodboard, rails of samples corner another while the splish-splash of dye being rolled onto silk and the whirr of washing machines provide the soundtrack.
Wilkinson and Barford, the talented duo behind this haven of creativity, specialise in printing using free hand silk-screen techniques, thus ensuring every single piece is unique.
Produced solely in London, the label is now stocked in twenty stores worldwide. We caught up with them a few weeks after their SS/13 show to talk techniques, inspiration and spray painting jeans in Brixton… Each piece is uniq
Tell us about how you met?
Harriet: We’ve known each other since birth. Our mums were pregnant at the same time.
Polly: Harriet came to the hospital the day I was born and gave me a rattle, which I still, have somewhere.
Have you always been creative?
P: We had a bohemian childhood. We were always building camps in Richmond Park. Our mums ran a crèche in Devon so in the summer we’d pile in the car packed with canvases and fairy lights and spent our days having fashion shoots.
H: We made our first ever collection from bin bags, the tube jersey we modeled ourselves!
Although you didn’t go to the same school you both ended up studying Fashion, Textiles & Business at Brighton University. How was that?
P: I did my art foundation in Brighton and Harriet did hers in Kingston. It was weird because our surnames are really far apart but we ended up having our interviews for Brighton ten minutes apart from each other with the same interviewer and once we started we were put in the same groups for everything.
H: It was great, we were able to round all the lost people up and go for drinks.
Art school is known for being competitive. Was it ever an issue for you both?
P: No never. Although we both specialized in print and our professor would always tell us that our taste was really similar. We were alike but still very different.
H: Yes, we always admired what the other was doing but we were still different to one another.
How did you officially start working together?
H: I found out about a free studio space in Brixton and we won the pitch for it.
P: It was a collective studio so we were with a furniture designer, an architect and a photographer. There was nothing in Brixton at that time apart from fruit and vegetable stalls. We had so much fun. There was a lot of freedom; we even used to spray paint our jeans in the car park.
How did you go from that to being stocked in Liberty?
P: Well, we’d run out of money so I was on my way to my mum’s to borrow some so we could buy more fabric. I picked up the Evening Standard paper and spotted the advert for the ‘Best of British Design Day.’
H: We put together a small collection, which included our Batman-style t-shirt and those spray-painted jeans!
Sum up the Draw in Light woman?
P: We don’t think of a specific girl, it’s more her attitude than the way she looks. She’s intelligent and likes being individual in an effortless way. We like to think that, like us, she appreciates that the product is once-off, hand-printed and produced in England.
Who would you love to see wearing your collection?
P: Chloe Sevigny or Bjork, both are amazing
H: Grimes was recently spotted in one of our t-shirts, that was really cool.
How do you gather ideas together?
H: We always collect lots of images, that we pin on boards in our studio. Then we talk about what worked and didn’t work in the last collection. Or the fabrics and processes that we’d like to try on certain shape.
Talk us through your inspiration for SS/13?
P: We visited Kew Gardens and took lots of photographs and did drawings of the plants. It was very natural but rooted in the scientific with the earth and natural currents and lights.
H: We do a lot of printing with an open screen, so we let it happen naturally. This one print came out that looks a bit like the noise on a television screen so we felt ‘Noise’ was a fitting title for the collection.
What’s your next aim for Draw in Light?
P: At the moment we do three collections but we’d like to do a pre-autumn/ winter too. Our business is tailored for fashion at the moment but we would love to other things too. We both love interiors. We’d love to have a Draw in Light concept store. We’ll give Dover Street market a run for its money!
Visit the Draw In Light website