Hipstorical - Hip and Historical, what’s not to love?! But for Print Pattern Archive, it's not a mere buzzword; it's a movement we’re leading on into 2024 and in this article we explain why it’s great for sustainable print.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
As PPA steps into a new year, we reflect on the sustainable print movement we led last year. In response to the emerging circular economy, we asked print teams and designers to think beyond print for one season and consider the afterlife of products as they stay in circulation on resale platforms for years to come. How does a design stay relevant and appealing for a decade.
Print needs to wow but still look amazing as trends come and go. We discussed in a previous article what makes a timeless design and how archive prints stay relevant for decades and what we can learn from history. 2023 was about spreading this understanding and how this small shift could have a seismic impact on the longevity of a garment or product.
With history as our muse, we ask you to join us and create your prints to be timeless, unusual, of incredible quality, and cool so they have legs and become the future classics of tomorrow.
Last year was an exciting time for the studio. We were having fun blowing our minds with gen AI, playing with ancient techniques like batik and drawing inspiration from our incredible archive. A world first in design mash up with analogue and digital riding shotgun!
The results were so new, and our clients loved our new no-trend collections.
With this new understanding of what print could be, we felt a need to push this quest for new standards with our new techniques. We decided to get the message out on sustainable print to the wider design world. After a couple of months, we saw a flourish of other studios following suit with quality hand painting on socials, which has been amazing. We wanted to get as many designers and print teams on board with this.
We continue with a passion for doing things differently. Our archive is the inspiration point at the centre of every collaboration from film sets to interiors, high street fashion, and couture.
As we predicted, towards the end of last year, both our fashion and interiors brands were seriously stepping up their efforts on sustainability. Whether a garment or interiors fabric, the question is, why would we reduce products to fibres for recycling when, if designed well, they could stay in circulation for years? We are now actively consulting with brands in developing heritage hero collections that intersect hip with history.
In the studio, we’ve seen a return to Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau. For bespoke interiors projects we have antique designs with a contemporary twist, playing with scale, contemporary subject matter, or colour pops.
On the fashion front, our traditional techniques with a twist have been turning the heads of print teams across the globe. ‘Raw’ hand-painted artworks, archive rentals, and AI-inspired fantastical artworks have all been working into the spaces between trends to create forever prints that are here to last.
Hipstorical success stories from those who embraced the designs from our Archive this year. These stories are not just testimonials; they are affirmations of a movement that has taken root and flourished this year Florére, Karen Millen, Fermoie, Linwood and many other collaborations and new clients we can reveal later in the year.
Florére hero prints
Our clients at Soho House have nailed mid-century cool with their lifetime quality furniture and exquisite textural textiles. The sustainable woven headboard fabrics we’ve developed for Soho House Manchester, below, are so contemporary yet have their design roots in C20th archive pieces. Timeless designs that bring effortless soul and evocative narrative from 1950 yet will future-proof their interiors for decades to come.
Our woven fabric headboards -Soho house Manchester
THE END OF TREND?
Whilst we keep a keen eye on trends, we like to get to the roots of why trends emerge. Look at the original source and find understanding and expansion there. This helps inspire us into a more relevant take on our own interpretations and get under the surface creating new more impactful interpretations. Understanding consumer appetite more deeply can evoke a more soulful response. There is always a historical reference in the archive that translates this expression. Fashion is circular!
The intersection of brand id, timeless design and trend is a delicate dance that we have become expert at. Brands that rely on a constant stream of newness without a strong brand message will need to rethink. Being a slave to generalised top-down trends is exhausting and transient and doesn’t really connect to their audience. It’s like trying to keep a marriage going on Saturday nights out and sparkly dresses! By focussing on timeless design we can nod to trends, keep a strong brand message and keep print longevity front and centre.
The most successful brands coming up the ranks are those that trade on great narrative, big personalities, and good values that build a niche relationship (marriage!) with the consumer rather than competing with numerous other suitors at high street trend Tinder. Some brands manage this to a degree, but they could go further in developing a voice and print handwriting that has narrative and connection to something deeper that will build brand loyalty.
Building collections into a longer story is a new framework. If every product designed by your brand is still around in 15 years' time, that’s a lot of products circling around advertising your brand message of relevance, taste, design classics, iconic, and good investment to future consumers. It’s a win-win for sustainability and brand loyalty. Let’s look at William Morris - the new Madonna when it comes to reinvention! From scaled-up stair carpets to wallpapers in poppy colourways, Morris & Co prints are a fine example of a hardworking design that spans centuries in appeal. .
THE POWER PRINT
Craftsmanship or should that be craftswomanship, is an art that requires time, dedication, and a commitment to excellence.
Murals and super repeats
For us 2024 is the year of the ‘power print,’ In addition to our collections there has been a rise in a new next-level print that we charge more for as they’re more of a project than a print. Think huge hand-painted repeats, AI magical realism with over 60 design elements, and super designs that pull in multiple archive pieces to create a ‘beast’ as we call it!
We craft pieces that celebrate the artist; we know that quality is timeless, and sustainability is not just a choice; it's a responsibility. Investment in good print will run and run; you can recolour, rescale, and get so much more mileage over seasons to come than thinking short term.
Our archive is full of beautiful designs created by the hand of thousands of artists throughout history. They are as relevant now as they were a hundred years ago. These prints that make it into the collection are selected by myself & Kerri for their timeless beauty.
Imagine now that you could create or commission a print so timeless, so clever, and so attractive that it would never be destined for the recycling bin, that it is immortalised and in its endless permutations it lives on. That is true art. Let’s look to the successes of history to create a new wave in design.