The Fashion Folk S02 ep9 : Philip Stephens, Unconditional, [London]
Interview with Philip Stephens
Philip Stephens had a varied career before he landed back on Planet Fashion working in interior design, event management and club promotion. He started the fashion/lifestyle consultancy Concrete PR and Marketing in 1996 and the Concrete Shop followed 4 years later. The UNCONDITIONAL collection was initially designed exclusively for the shop but Louis Boston became his first wholesale customer and encouraged him to expand the range. There are now over 90 international stockists in 18 countries. They are a winning combination of the laidback and the edgy. . The collections have a diverse range of celebrity customers which include Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Jude Law, Adrian Brody, to David Bowie and Depeche Mode, Kasabian and Mika. Cameron Diaz, Tori Amos, Madonna, Kelis, Skin, Jade Jagger, Amy Winehouse, and Sheryl Crow are female fans.
Stevens: I don’t know, I’m a designer, I don’t know. I mean I suppose a designer, design
incorporates all of those things so you know, I used to do interior designing as well so I love colour
as well and colour palettes and designing that sort of thing.
Stevens: I never studied fashion, so and I actually did Marketing at University and I got into
interior, I was always very interested in design and I had a very academic background actually, so I
was meant to do law, I escaped doing law and just gradually came around the houses into doing
fashion really, but I had always wanted to do it, so
But normally that is not the way it happens as we both know
Stevens: No, but you know normal, what’s normal? I mean you know there’s lots of people who I
mean, Armani never studied fashion did he?
No. Exactly, he was a window dresser.
Stevens: So, yeah or whatever he was but you know lots of people didn’t, I mean I think when you
are taught something you tend to do the same route sometimes and I think when you come in at it a
different angle, maybe you bring something fresh.
Stevens: I use to do interior design and event design, event management and then I started a PR
company and we started with fashion and then I started consulting with people. I used to do a lot of
trend forecasting for people like Adidas and blah, blah, blah, blah and then clients came and went
and I’d help them a lot and you get no thanks and I thought well I’m going to just and I started my
own first shop, so I start my clothes for my shop and it kind of just grew.
Even as a consultant of PR it all looks a little bit easier than in reality, you know what I mean.
Stevens: Oh no. It was fucking hard, yeah
Yeah I know but what I’m trying to get at
Stevens: It’s very hard
What did you find to be the things that sort of strained you the most?
Stevens: Well, I mean one,
The hardest thing?
Stevens: Well, getting the right production at the right price and the right quality, that’s one thing
and for me I think as well because I’m not a designer, although it may look, you may be surprised
I’m not twenty-two. And so you know I am not straight out of St. Martin’s I think people thought it
was a bit of a stitch up as well, I think the press haven’t really been very supportive.
Stevens: Now maybe but it was a bit like what’s he doing? He not a designer, you know and a lot
of the press are friends of the people who came from St. Martin’s, some of them are press now, so
there is that sort of fashion stitch up a bit. So I’m a bit outside of all of that and that’s quite hard
but the good thing is it sells really well in the shops and buyers tell buyers and we have loads of
celebrities who wear it.
I find these shows today are being quite tame by British fashion week standards,
Is that because people are sick of the shopping/shocking stuff or?
Stevens: I don’t know, I don’t know
Is that the fad that people had gone for?
Stevens: Mine wasn’t tame was it, was my show tame?
Yeah, I mean is was risqué but in a very commercial way
Stevens: You know, clothes have to sell don’t they, there’s no point in doing the same old shit if it
What’s your process?
Stevens: I mean it always comes from nature and colour palettes and I know like the colour palette
I’m doing next season already, but unconditional for me has very strict parameters and it is luxury
basics that are interesting and have a twist that are wearable, because there is no point in me, I’m
not going to be Gareth Pugh, you know the age of forty one so, it’s not really any point. So this one
was very much, I mean I’m always the nature boy anyway so it was very personal I wanted to do
wearable green, it was kind of environmentally friendly about global warming, about layering
coming on and off, about acid rain all of that and then there was the Hari Krishna bit because you
know I live in Soho so I live by Soho Square, I work there, I am very friendly with a lot of Hari
Krishna’s, I love them and I just thought I wanted to do a little passage about sort of a little armage
about the Hari, because I think they have you know, a condition that is quite spiritual and I love,
knit we do lots of hoods, it’s very cocoony, it’s very protective, I just like just to go in and hide and
it is a bit protective from the world, that’s my vibe and you know that’s where it’s coming from.
Stevens: We did the last show in Heaven didn’t we and it was very good fun.
Stevens: In Heaven the club
Stevens: We had a thousand people there and that was fun. This is Eddie who has modelled for me
for a few seasons.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Philip Stephens, Unconditional, London