Interview: team Elensa on combining their love of fashion and film
The relationship between fashion and film has always been a strong one but until now no one has thought to curate a shopping experience and collection that fuses the two interconnected worlds. So when costume designer Andy Blake and film producer Maggie Monteith teamed up with Stuart Trevor, who made his name in fashion founding brands such as AllSaints and Bolongaro Trevor, doing just that seemed the most natural thing to do.
Their new marketplace platform, elensa.com, has just gone live and showcases designer clothing, accessories and merchandise inspired by the art and craft of film making. Taking one of Monteith's films Race to Immortality, the first collection features curated pieces from designers and brands such as Oliver Spencer, Kestin Hare. Baracuta and Elensa's own label. Here the team discuss the concept and their plans for the future with The Industry.
Can you explain the Elensa concept to us; we understand it’s a bespoke shopping platform that brings together the worlds of fashion and film but how will it work?
For everyone who loves a film, there is that moment of bittersweet regret at the end, that they are no longer part of that world. These collections, inspired by the characters, the locations and the themes of the films, will give people a chance to bring the way the film made them feel into their lives. If we get it right, it will feel right even to people who haven’t seen the film, because of its attitude.
Who is your target market in terms of both customer and countries?
Our dream is that someone with their own unique style in Ghana or Lithuania, or Glasgow or London, will find their way to us, and be delighted to include us in their wardrobe. Our customers have their own point of view and cut a dash wherever they go.
You are working with some great affiliate brands, how did you select them?
Some selected themselves as we told our story to our community of designers and friends, before we were looking to broaden the styling of each collection. Others we all admired from afar, and beat a path to their door to try to persuade them.
Your first collection is inspired by Race to Immortality, what will it contain and why did you choose that film?
We chose this film as our first collection on elensa.com because it embodies everything we aspire to create. A past era for which the style is still relevant and exciting, where everyone dressed up and put their best self out there. The late 1950’s racing world was glamourous and new, its people handsome and striking. We could all see the elensa version walk into the room, and be noticed.
How will you choose the films you use for inspiration and how often will you launch collections?
The first group of films are all produced by Maggie and we look to the film’s costume design and art direction, the characters and their stories and create our vision from a springboard of those elements, as an interpretation of how that would look in the real world. But we have big plans for 2018, for working with other filmmakers and films. Please keep watching, because our collections will come at their own right time.
As a team you are drawn from fashion and film, how did you all meet and when did you decide to work together?
Andy and Maggie have moved in the same circles for many years, but only first worked together on the film Brotherhood. One conversation led to another and elensa.com moved onto its current path, where we persuaded Stuart to join us. As is usual in these situations, we found we have many friends in common, and more importantly a shared vision for what we want to do, each of us bringing a different, important skill-set and experience to fast-track the business.
Which roles in the business will you each play?
It’s tempting to say Diva, Lead and Ingenue and ask you to figure out who’s who! On a day-to-day basis we tend to defer to Stuart’s retail acumen, Andy’s styling instincts and Maggie’s business plans and dreams, but as we work together we’re all learning from each other, and find ourselves collaborating across all the roles.
What made you take this approach to e-commerce, rather than a more traditional approach?
We want our marketplace to be the world and to bet on our creativity and design, rather than on footfall on the street. The mobile phone is our link to our customers far and wide, and we like the thought of people scrolling while they are traveling to work, and shopping at their leisure, coming upon us thanks to people like you and becoming part of our gang.
Stuart, you founded AllSaints and Bolongaro Trevor, what keeps driving you to set up brands & businesses?
When you are a creative person, there is a constant impetus to try to invent and refine, experiment and fix everything you have ever done. There is no moment when you feel satisfied that you have said all you have to say, so the moment I wake up every day I am thinking of something I could do. Being successful in the past just makes you hungrier to do it again, but differently each time.
What are your impressions of the fashion and retail industry at the moment – it’s tough out there! – and what gap do you see for yourselves?
The main tough thing is the race to the bottom on pricing, while the cost of everything rockets upwards. So we are having a certain sort of humility in how we come into being, starting with small bespoke original collections in the hope that even in those numbers we find people who think that each piece is worth it. Maybe then we will be braver, knowing how each collection is received and find ourselves filling the gap for clothes that take people to the onscreen place they imagined themselves in, not fashion, but wardrobe.
What are the medium and long-term aims for the business?
Suffice to say they are varied and plentiful. Bigger collections first, follow-up reprise collections where we’ve hit a nerve, and broader scope for film inspirations. The drawing board is overflowing. Let’s see what makes it to production!