We initially met The Falls founder, Leong, when Lucy was working in the fashion industry and Leong was selling incredibly inspirational vintage pieces and original embroidery designs to fashion brands. The Falls is Leong's public facing side of his creativity, and we are so excited to be able to share his clever and deeply beautiful collection with you. At the time of launching, Plum & Belle is The Falls' only UK-based retailer, and as every piece is utterly unique you can only find these specific styles right here. What a coup!
We'd love you to know more about Leong and his very special approach to creating pieces for The Falls so we asked him a few questions.
Tell us how The Falls began
The Falls evolved out of many years of developing contemporary wholesale collections for New York Fashion Week and the rag trade since 2004. After the 2008 financial crisis, we had to find ways to survive, so we started partnering with agents and manufacturers in India to develop designs for Anthropologie as well as upcycled denim for Urban Outfitters. During this time, I developed a method of designing directly on vintage garments, a parallel side to the Falls is one-of-a-kind embellishment designs on vintage that's sold to other designers and brands (Anna Sui, Anthropologie, Free People, Levi's and Madewell, to name a few) for design inspiration. Some of these unique designs also end up channelled into The Falls.
This is where the core of The Falls methods and values started, that when a discarded garment is given enough love and attention, it becomes new, refreshed, even inspirational.
The slowdown during the Covid pandemic has allowed time for us to set up our first web retail platform, and pop-ups over the last summer.
What are four things about your business that make your heart sing?
1) I love creating surface textures, combining colours, materials and techniques with vintage items and creating something new, original and inspirational from the discarded.
2) Fashion as a form of expression. Even if you reject fashion, you can’t escape being expressive. For me, humour is important in fashion and what I do.
3) Discovering new techniques and materials that the Karigar, our embroidery artists in India, work with.
4) Packing and shipping, knowing that something I have created is going to a new forever home to be cherished and that it will hopefully bring joy to someone.
What are the key sustainable and ethical elements of The Falls?
- Recycling and reclaiming preloved garments, turning them in to something uniquely beautiful.
- Conserving the traditions of the Karigar embroiderers.
- Slow fashion, only producing what we know we can sell, and not overproducing
- Carbon neutral/negative by purchasing carbon through the Gold Standard to offset for shipping to and from India
The Falls did not start out as a sustainable brand, but because of our methods and techniques we have gladly fallen into that box. I would like to think that we are working toward being a sustainable brand, and that Plum & Belle is helping us get there.
Do you have a signature product, something that really sums up what your brand is about?
The cross-stitch technique is a favourite. I collect antique samplers, usually the first step (perhaps the only step in some cases) of a girl's education historically. Using the cross-stitch as a font gives a certain voice to the slogans I use, usually (but not limited to) hand-stitched cushions
Our pearl button covered sweatshirts and biker jackets are inspired by Pearly kings and queens. We're using traditional looks in unexpected ways. (Is it cultural appropriation if it is appropriated from the oppressor? ;) )
What about Plum & Belle feels like it has particular synergy with your brand?
A side note on sustainable platforms such as Plum & Belle: I believe such spaces are important to the future of sustainability and responsibility, in that they help keep brands in check, giving us guide rails and ensuring we stay responsible.
What are your future aims for The Falls?
The Falls has started dabbling in upcycled furniture, with one-of-a-kind embroidered upholstery. It's set to debut in October '21 and is something I will continue to grow into.
The Falls is also happy to make things to order, with the understanding that made to order takes a length of time, especially in the current climate of supply chain delays.
We are so happy to have you with us Leong! And we are also so delighted to have worked with The Falls as one of our sustainability consultancy clients. We work hard with all of our brands, supporting them to do what they do in the more sustainable and ethical way possible. It's a wonderfully reciprocal learning curve and we are so excited to be on this journey together.
To shop our exclusive pieces from The Falls, just click here.