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The BoF Podcast: Charles Jeffrey on What It’s Like to Be a Rising Designer in the Midst of a Pandemic

In the latest special edition of the BoF Podcast, designer Charles Jeffrey talks to BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks about self-reflection during the coronavirus crisis, and the evolution of his brand, Loverboy.
Charles Jeffrey | Photo: Jem Mitchell

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LONDON, United Kingdom — At a time of growing uncertainty, with brands shuttering stores and a record number of people filing for unemployment, London-based designer Charles Jeffrey, founder of fashion brand Loverboy, emphasises the importance of intimacy and inwardness. "It's very much about connecting with the customer, or the follower or the fan of the work you're doing," Jeffrey told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest special edition of the BoF Podcast. "And being authentic and personal to them."

In recent months, Jeffrey’s focus has shifted from merely growing a fledgling global brand to personalising it by putting himself — his face, his personality and values — at the forefront.

Known for shocking people with unpredictable, avant-garde designs, Jeffrey is turning to the familiar via his upcoming “Emergency Collection,” which is made up of 50 individual pieces — about half of his usual output. “The [collection] includes pieces that I know buyers will like and pieces that have good margins,” he said.

I believe it's a subtle reminder for us to reset and look into ourselves.

Jeffrey launched Loverboy’s e-commerce site in mid-February of this year, which is helping him to better manage the narrative of his brand.

“We’re talking about releasing the [Emergency] Collection on our own personal platform,” he said. “It’s a bit more intimate; we can control how those garments are shopped and how they are presented… It will have a different treatment on the website [as] we shoot it in a more open-minded way.” The site itself is an extension of Jeffrey’s creative vision, illustrated with drawings and sketches by the designer.

“For me, the coronavirus will be remembered as this prompt from [Greek Mother Earth goddess] Gaia of like, ‘You’re not doing enough so I’m going to launch this on you,’” the designer said. “I believe it’s a subtle reminder for us to reset and look into ourselves.” According to Jeffrey, the coronavirus might act as a catalyst for the localisation of fashion; designers might look to nearby talent to help them conceptualise, design and produce their garments.

In the same vein, Jeffrey considers what the future of fashion shows might look like. Perhaps designers will approach the catwalk with more humility and less decadence? “One of the benefits of having a brand like Loverboy is the history of the content that we put out,” he said. “We were never known for just doing fashion shows, we always did little films [as well].” The pandemic could, he believes, result in an even greater appreciation of content, concepts and new ideas.

“I wonder if this whole [crisis] will make us more mindful and aware of how we’re all equal.”

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The State of Fashion: Technology