Bundy & Webster
Bundy & Webster are two friends who initially bonded over ambition and talent, when they spotted a gap in the fashion market to design a variety of t-shirts and sweatshirts for both men and women. They may be young, but these girls took the fashion world by storm with the launch of their spring/summer collection in 2014.
Bundy & Webster are a young, exciting, and edgy duo who formed in 2012 when they spotted a gap in the market to design beautifully made casual wear. This creative team collaborate with up and coming artists and designers fresh from college or university to create new, dynamic, and intriguing collections. Hannah Calder-Bundy, Director of Bundy & Webster, says “By bringing artists on board, we not only give them a platform to showcase their talent, but also create casual wear that stands out from the conventional high street offerings and still come in at an affordable price point.”
Hannah Calder-Bundy and Suki Webster are two girls who began creating beautiful, high-quality clothing for both men and women from Hannah’s kitchen table. After a lot of saving and a generous family loan, the girls plucked the courage to leave their day jobs to chase their dream of becoming their own bosses. This South London based company primarily creates unique t-shirts and sweatshirts using artists’ hand-drawn paintings and innovative printing techniques as a source of inspiration. They enjoy creating bespoke one-offs for their loyal and rapidly growing fan base – however, they generally produce collections in limited runs to add an element of exclusivity to their brand. “We aim to produce collectable garments that transcend trends and are always fashionable – timeless and wearable pieces of art.”
Alongside their own collections, they also specialise in taking on commission jobs, re-working logos and creating bespoke artwork for a range of different companies. Last year Bundy & Webster gained wide media exposure throughout the country when they created a sweatshirt with the statement “put a pansy in it” in support of ‘The Pansy Project’ – an anti-homophobia movement. This made headlines and was featured in The Sunday Times magazine and on The Guardian online.
Bundy & Webster’s Spring/Summer collection 2014 drew inspiration from English gardens. They created casually flamboyant t-shirts and t-shirt dresses with black and white flowers embedded across the 100% cotton. These designs were hand-drawn by Olivia Whitworth and silk-screen printed onto the fabric. “Artists help us create hand-drawn designs, and along with innovative printing techniques and high-quality fabrics and finishes, we are committed to bringing something new and truly unique to the casual wear market. We aim to make collectable clothing that you wear forever and ever. It’s long-lasting fashion, not fast fashion.”
To find out more about their work and future plans and projects, we caught up with them over the phone.
What is the difference between your new collection in comparison to your previous collections?
Hannah: This collection all came about after we were asked to do a t-shirt to celebrate the opening of the Garden Museum‘s Fashion & Gardens exhibition. We did a lot of research into flowers and English gardens throughout the centuries, so it was the first time we had ever really worked to a theme within a collection.
What has been your favourite collection?
Suki: I’d say this one! It feels like we’ve come a long way since our first few collections and we are so proud of everything we have done, but this one feels the most coherent. Also, who doesn’t love flowers?
How did Bundy & Webster begin?
Hannah: Suki and I had been friends for a few years before embarking on Bundy & Webster. We bonded over the ambition to become our own bosses, and decided to leave our jobs in PR [Hannah] and Retail [Suki] to do it! We saw a gap in the market for beautiful but affordable casual wear and wanted to step away from all the digitally printed and/or polyester t-shirts sold on the high street today. We use hand-drawn designs, innovative printing techniques and high-quality fabrics and finishes to ensure we’re creating truly unique and precious pieces.
Where did you start?
Suki: From Hannah’s kitchen, and one laptop between the two of us! It was a fairly unglamorous start, that’s for sure.
How did you gain funding?
Hannah: We saved for quite a long time before quitting our jobs, as well as a loan from our families which we were hugely grateful for.
Where do you manufacture? Is everything made in the UK?
Hannah: At the beginning, we thought about going abroad to keep costs down, but in fact, we realised that it added value to our company to keep it within the UK. We work with printers in Bermondsey, South London – it’s important to us to work with local and UK based companies, and we will continue to do so.
Related reading: Why Fashion Manufacturing Locally is actually better
What are your views about the manufacturing industry?
Suki: Our experience with the UK manufacturing industry has always been great, and it seems to be thriving! We did a lot of research when starting out and there are hundreds of companies who are doing great work.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
Suki: We love the fact that not one day is ever the same, and there’s a huge amount of pride in having built the business up from just an idea. There are not many people who get to do what we do, and for that, we feel very lucky. It certainly gets us both up out of bed in the morning!
Who have you worked with in the past?
Hannah: We’ve worked with some amazing young artists in the past from all over the UK. We scouted a lot of our previous collaborators from MA and BA shows at London art colleges.
Why do you choose to work with recent graduates?
Suki: It’s really nice to champion fresh and unsung talent! And as a start-up company, it made sense to work with young, just-graduated artists – it seemed like a good fit.
Are you working with any artists at the moment?
Hannah: We are currently working with just the one artist called Olivia Whitworth who is amazing. We worked with her on our current SS14 collection – her illustrations are just beautiful and she gets our mad ideas and puts them to paper so well!
What has been your biggest challenge as a brand?
Suki: I think our biggest challenge has been learning how to run as a business as we go along – this is a first for both of us, so it’s a lot of trial and error. It’s also sometimes difficult to get perspective on things – the two of us can look at something for so long and nit-pick until we are blue in the face! We have really had to learn when to stop talking about something and go and get someone else’s opinion. And obviously it’s tough as there’s not the financial stability you’d get with another job – the business comes before the two of us!
Apart from your website do you sell anywhere else?
Hannah: We are soon to be selling on ASOS Marketplace, but want to expand out to smaller boutiques and online retailers in the next couple of months.
Have you applied for the pop-up at HoF with the great retail revival?
Suki: We haven’t, no. It was a difficult decision to make but we are still way off our two-year anniversary and still feel like we have a way to come in terms of the business. We do lots of pop-ups throughout the year, but the HoF would be a huge jump for us to take. Next year for sure!
You take part in a variety of pop-ups. Why is that and does it help?
Suki: Having an online store can sometimes feel like there’s a barrier between us and the customer – which is why we love doing pop-ups, as we get to talk to them! It’s interesting to see who’s buying, and who’s buying what – it’s definitely given us a strong idea of who our customer base is. And it’s always nice to hear feedback; it helps us grow as a company.
Will you bring back successful pieces from previous collections to your website?
Hannah: All our garments are produced in limited runs to ensure exclusivity, but there are more new and exciting things to come on The Pansy Project front so watch this space!
What are your plans for the future?
Hannah: Next step is approaching retailers with our AW14/SS15 collections, and trying to secure a presence on the high street. We would really love to become recognised as the destination for beautiful and considered casual wear, and one day would love our own shop.
What would you have liked to know back when you were starting out that you’ve learnt along the way?
Hannah: Wow, that’s a tough one! There’s so much we’d turn around and tell ourselves at the start – I guess the main one is patience. We tend to want everything to happen immediately, but it takes time to build a successful company and it’s never going to happen overnight.
This is certainly only the start for this dynamic duo, their fresh and enthusiastic attitude is refreshing, and with their hopes of expanding in the near future, they can only hope to gain wider exposure to their brand.