Brit-designer Christopher Shannon has been carrying the Northern fashion torch for well over a decade now. With a surplus of cheekiness at his fingertips at all times, the designer’s carrier bag knits and Sports Direct spoofs have come to define an inimitable tongue-in-cheek aesthetic in the industry that is often imitated but never duplicated.
Having spent the last few years untangling himself from a web of dodgy production deals and plenty of other 2010s-centric fashion chaos, the designer is now turning his attention to creative pastures that don’t involve making “30,000 shit black hoodies.” Calling on a breadth of local Northern craftspeople, Shannon then began experimenting with knit, wax ceramics, and subverting the bog-standard bucket hat, to basically make whatever he wanted. See: Krankee candles offering the scent of ‘Another Hideous Gift’, rave plates and ‘so wrong they’re right’ patchwork fleeces.
The inspiration for the latter came after a nostalgic lockdown clearout, pawing through the germinated remains of his childhood, as one does when the world stops. “I’ve always quite liked to frame the face in my work,” Shannon says, “plus who needs another plain bucket hat? There are so many brands doing that, mine is more just an idea.”
With no gaudy stocking stuffer being left unturned, Shannon’s project is a refined take on life’s simple pleasures – “‘twisted normalcy’ someone called it” – a rethinking of the everyday items you’d find dotted around your living room, be it a sarky candle or even a full-on ski-mask. With his wears now available to purchase online in all their bespoke glory, we managed to catch the designer in a rare moment of calm to discuss the launch, where he stands on clubbing and the future of his burgeoning home empire.
Bat Bucket Blue Denim
Bailey Slater: Talk me through this project, how did it come to be, how is it all going?
CS: It was sort of accidental. I was so burnt out on London and the old seasonal way of working – I was spending more time up North realising I was happier here. And healthier. Then Covid hit, it seems to take a pandemic to get people to step off the fashion hamster wheel and re-evaluate. When the time came to think about returning to work I knew that going back to the old way of working was a firm no from me, I couldn’t see the point. I’d spent years untangling myself from wholesale and bad work deals, I wanted to have a life again with a level of freedom, I didn’t go to art school so I could end up in some hellish office job which is what I felt my London studio had become, also I was really aware of wanting to make less and be on my own schedule.
BS: Everything you made was created by local makers from ceramicists to knitters – what made you call on those surrounding you in the North-West?
CS: Well, at first I was freaking out thinking how would I produce work away from London but it all happened so organically, meeting different people bit by bit and seeing what their skills were, just conversations really. It’s very ‘Oh let’s try this idea…’ then on to the next. Designing full massive collections just seems so dated now and horribly wasteful and unnecessary, I mean if people wanted all those clothes all the online stores wouldn’t have so many brands on 80 percent off all the time.
BS: What would you say has been the most difficult part of assembling it all?
CS: Me, really. Just me making decisions. It’s quite a back to basics way of working but I really like that. In London, the pressure of the overheads financially starts to really erode the really exciting bits of actually freely working on ideas. I was so over couriering a zip reference around the world and then still factories getting it wrong, here I work with everyone face to face… human interaction! Masks on (obvs). Also, I have no deadlines, just my own, and nothing we are making is really designed to be seasonal or ‘trend’ they are just ideas.
“I was so over couriering a zip reference around the world and then still factories getting it wrong…”
BS: We’re huge fans of your rave plates – where were those magical stills from?
CS: I’m always searching out old footage. Years ago I did some documentary editing and I really adored the process. Louise Wilson wanted me to be an art director as she said my editing skills were my strong point and I guess that is what I do, just selecting moments wherever. I’ve never really had a desire to be a fashion designer, I just wanted to look at stuff and then make ideas that amuse me. I never wanted to make 30,000 shit black hoodies, which it seems is what fashion design is now.
BS: Are you a big clubber these days?
CS: God no, couldn’t think of anything worse. I’m quite hermit-ish – I read a lot.
“‘abundant lunacy’ is our new motto.”
Rando Remnant Half Zip
BS: The bucket hats are also super interesting, what was the inspiration there?
CS: I had to clear the attic in Liverpool during lockdown to be useful and was finding some childhood stuff and odd bits of clothes and I guess something… germinated. I’ve always quite liked to frame the face in my work, plus who needs another plain bucket hat? There are so many brands doing that, mine is more just an idea. Often my work is sort of a take on a really practical moment. Twisted normalcy someone called it, but I think it’s quite a decent decription. I like rethinking the everyday.
BS: I understand what’s on offer is fairly limited, no huge orders from random stockists across the country or anything like that, was that intentional?
CS: Oh completely. I see no value in overproduction. I was so depressed seeing how so many online stores stock the same homogenised ten brands, it’s not for me. I was always a bit of the odd one out at fashion week and it’s no different now. I like it that way. We will probably do some project-based drops with a few retailers we like, though I’m in no rush. This is the first time in years I can just do what I want, I don’t know why I’d want to change that.
BS: Some striking sportswear in there too – are you teasing a return to our industry at last?
CS: Hmm, I mean, we are working on some clothing for January – which is really intense construction – but I’m not sure it’s a return to fashion. Just ideas I want to make, small runs, no expectation.
BS: How does creating these ceramic masterpieces differ from the creative process of fashion design?
CS: It’s not so much the process more the expected outcome. I want the new things to feel slightly rough and singular, I don’t want anything I make to feel like it comes from the same factory as 1,000 designers, I can’t bear that same-y feel. But the process is the same really, I draw and draw and make notes, then I moan at people I’m working with until something appears that we are all happy with.
BS: I’m curious to know your favourite piece from the drop?
CS: In a very un-myself moment, I like everything. I realised just focussing on your own e-com is so liberating, no buyers moaning at you to do more. Who wants to be banging out best sellers forever? The same old shit. I want to always be working on something that feels fresh to me. The e-com is a platform to experiment with ideas and working locally I’m not under pressure to order 2,000 of anything.
BS: What can we expect to come from your next offering?
CS: There’s loads to come – ‘abundant lunacy’ is our new motto. The new fleeces we’ve been sourcing are really upbeat, ‘so wrong they’re right’ type moments. The Krankee candles are sort of their own thing too, product as social critique. I think the hand-crocheted Christmas decorations are brilliant too, I love working with people who are willing to try stuff and not get bogged down in thinking about being a ‘brand’ etc. I never wanted to be a brand, I can’t think of anything more dead inside. The minute we start making stuff we don’t like again then it will be time to stop again, being a designer or a creative I don’t think should be just constantly churning out stuff that no one really asked for.
“Who wants to be banging out best sellers forever? The same old shit.”
DEER STALKER RANDO REMNANT