Years spent on the frontline of the British fashion industry have positioned designer and entrepreneur Andrew Bunney with an impeccable ability to sympathetically reference the then, whilst giving a refreshing nod to the now.
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A past as a buyer for leading light in London retail, The Hideout, and as Creative Director at Doc Martens means Andrew has a well-honed eye for the highest standards in design and manufacturing. Now at the helm of Bunney jewellery and as co-founder of British Remains, he’s side-stepped the trend treadmill and is forging his own path. With every step (or hop!) he makes, he focusses on creating covetable pieces that celebrate the best of British manufacturing. Drawing on his background he successfully marries heritage with a contemporary aesthetic to produce discreet studs, pins, tees and footwear that exude refinement and understated luxury. Donning his jeweller’s hat for a few minutes, i-D online speak to Andrew about his boyhood, his background and the Bunney outlook.
Where did you grow up? In the south of England, next to Southampton.
Who were your style icons as a child? I’m not sure that I remember any specific people really. I was actually very taken with American pop culture which always seemed to be presented in a fresher way. So I suppose from that time it might be the skateboarder Matt Hensley.
Tell us a bit about the background to Bunney… It came about with the idea to make something unisex that lots of people could wear in their own way. I had never made jewellery, but was always looking for something for myself and so I simply made what I wanted to buy. I was supported by shops such as colette, Dover Street Market and the visvim stores in Japan from the beginning, and it grew bit by bit until I decided to start showing seasonally. The idea is to create something simple and understandable, that is special enough to have a new or fresh character. I want to encourage the wearer to consider their own combinations. From the product down to the packaging, everything is made in workshops around England, everything is made to very high standards.
When did you first become aware of Derek Ridgers’ work? I’m sure that I had seen the photos before, but the first time I remember recognising Derek’s name was when he supplied the images that Morrissey used as backdrops for an ill-fated tour.
How did the collaboration between you and Derek come about? I had actually tried to do something before in a past job, but it never happened and so the idea was reignited through the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN scheme. Because I’m making products that are quite small, but presenting them in a fashion environment, it is quite easy to get lost. A very good friend had suggested that I should make something more visual and this made a very good link between what I’m making and my influences.
How has the nature of tribes in youth culture changed from decade to decade, from the 70s to now? I don’t think people really change, so I would imagine that the biggest change is around how information is received and understood. Even as recently as 10 years ago it was much harder to know and learn about things – more effort had to be made to really understand something. From speaking with older people, the lifestyle that they followed took a lot of dedication which I suppose is different, but I wouldn’t think for a moment that a teenager today cares any less about something than someone the same age in the 70s. As for actual groups, or ‘genre-specific’ looks, I think they do still exist - consider ‘sneakerheads’ for an example of people into what is now considered ‘streetwear’. I think those looks are very closely defined.
What special Bunney pieces have you worked on to coincide with the exhibition? I have selected and made pieces which illustrate the link between Derek’s work and my own.
Lewis Leathers Dominator for Bunney: This very special piece is made from veg-tanned sheep leather with ‘bleached out’ zips from ‘Flash Fasteners’. The materials and specification evokes the time and era of Ridgers’ photos. The jacket will age beautifully, and is decorated with solid silver Bunney studs, each individually hallmarked and hand-riveted to the jacket in typical ‘rockers’ style.
Rabbit’s Feet: This traditional lucky charm was originally adopted by Rockers, the Bunney Rabbit’s feet are either cast or handcarved in a variety of precious metals or precious stones. To be worn as a pendant.
Jubilee Badges: 23mm Sterling silver badges featuring decorative commemorative hallmarks for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.
Fragment ‘No Future’ Badges: 34mm Sterling silver badge, with acid etched ‘No Future’ motif created for Fragment. Each badge is plated at top and bottom and available in either Yellow Gold or Black Gold.
Whatʼs next? The next project I’m working on is creating a new style of jewellery case with the luggage makers Globetrotter, and the second Bunney paper!
The exhibition ‘Derek Ridgers: Selected Works’ held in collaboration with Bunney is open at Dover Street Market until the June 21st.
Text: Sean Baker
Images 1, 2 and 3 courtesy Bunney. Images 4, 5 and 6 by Derek Ridgers.