This season I’ve noticed a return of the “dapper” gentleman – check tweed jackets, trimmed beards, waistcoats, smart leather shoes – and it’s doubly pleasing to welcome to the blog a new accessory brand that celebrates this “dapper” look that is appealing to men of all ages. Isolana London handcrafts genuine Italian leather from their London based workshop on an island in the Thames. I spoke to the young “dapper” gentleman founder, Forrest, about his wonderful new company …
Hi, my name is Forrest, I’m the founder of Isolana London. I studied product design at university and have always had a passion for design and a keen interest in fashion. Growing up in London, arguably the centre of these fields, I’ve been very aware of the constant changes and the effects these have had on the world around me. Seeing the impact fashion can have has inspired me to pursue this area and create Isolana London, a bold brand which doesn’t just follow the norm.
What inspired the launch of your company?
Growing up in an arty household has undoubtedly had a strong influence on myself as a person and this has led me to be involved in a variety of creative things, one of those was leading a group of fellow students in the young enterprise scheme, in which our group similarly crafted and sold leather phone cases. Looking back at this, it was a great experience of both business and design and was something I was very interested in following.
What is the meaning of your brand name?
Isolana is Italian for islander/island, our workshop is located on an island in the river Thames (London) and we source all our leather from family run Italian tanneries. Combining these two cultures we are able to handmake our products using the finest materials to the highest quality.
You are able to offer an unique bespoke service where the customer can choose image/leather/initials. What does this process entail?
My family has developed a unique printing process which allows us to print into the leather grain, we have printed for the likes of Paul Smith, Chanel and Aston Martin, but feel it’s time to offer this customisation directly to the consumer. We are giving the user the ability to design their own wallet, whether that be with their own graphic or artwork or simply just an awesome holiday photo. We have carefully selected a range of natural toned veg tanned leathers in which the user can choose from. We then add that extra personal touch with hand embossed initials.
You launched your kickstarter campaign in April 2015 offering a choice of cardholder, slim wallet, & bill-fold. Before launching, which products seemed to be creating the most interest when you visited fashion houses and participated in photoshoots?
Personally I use the slim wallet as I feel people are slimming and simplifying their lifestyle, and with this, minimising the amount they carry on them and I personally find the classic bifold slightly too large. Following this we’ve had a lot of interest in the simple card holder as it’s got a very low price point and I’ve found many people using it as their main wallet, as the leather can stretch to accommodate up to 15 cards. However amongst the slightly older users they opt for the timeless classic bill fold as it truly is a luxury fashion piece.
You are based in London – do you cater for overseas customers at all?
We will be shipping our products around the world as we don’t want to restrict this creative opportunity and we feel everyone should be able to express their personality and individuality through our range.
If you had the chance, who would you pick (dead or alive) to be the “Face” of Isolana London and why?
Will i am would be awesome to work with, he stands out from the crowd with his unique style putting a twist on modern classic looks which is similar to our products. We managed to give him one of our products recently which he loved!
Looking ahead to 2016, are there any future plans to expand your range of products at all?
Yes we have ambitions for far more consumer products but we need to keep these a secret for now! Stay tuned 🙂
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I like to keep a minimalist look with old classic styles such a tweed jackets and oxford shirts. I love an oxford brogue shoe!
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I want to add a new tailored suit to my collection. Maybe if Kickstarter goes well then I can afford one!
Boots or Shoes?
Shoes. I always want to be ready to be able to get into a nice bar in London. Boots won’t cut it.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Isolana London
Thank you Forrest and I wish Isolana London much success in the future! What do you think of the “dapper” look ladies and gents? Do share your thoughts – I’d love to know!
I have recently started a new Facebook page to run alongside this blog with additional updates and fashion articles. Find me on http://facebook.com/bootsshoesandfashion or for shoes/accessories info there’s the Facebook group Boots Shoes et Al to join (press the Facebook icon)
Photo Credits: Photos published with kind permission of Isolana London