Interview by Will HALBERT (Essential Journal Magazine)
EJ: We sit down with Jamie Lundy of British technical outerwear brand, 7L (Seven Layer) to talk about music, menswear and the City of Manchester.
EJ: First off, what’s your story? Tell us a little about yourself.
JL: I was born in Gatley, Stockport in 1978. I left home when I was 19. Passions, other than family are football, drumming, film, UFC, photography, collecting vintage Star Wars and vintage Military stuff and, of course, I love jackets.
Before 7L, I was an engineer working for a family-run business. The business was heavily involved with and specialised in the design, manufacturing and installation of major engineering projects for the pharmaceutical, petrochemical and rail industries across the UK. I started working for my dad - unofficially - age14 but officially aged 18. So around 25 years.
EJ: Would you say that your experience growing up in the North West - a region dominated by the likes of C.P. Company and Stone Island - has influenced how you approach designing outerwear?
JL: In my younger years, I seemed to be always wearing England football tracksuits, Adidas or Kappa. Fashion for me was wearing Kickers, Timberlands, Joe Bloggs Jeans - I remember having an amazing jacket called “Massif”, but I was mugged in town and it got nicked! Cost my mum £200 that coat, and she was fuming when I got home. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that brand again.
In the 90s, growing up, I think everyone was heavily influenced by the Manchester music scene. I suppose my brother was an influence on me too, being five years older than me. His style was typical of that era; second-hand clothing from charity shops; big hats; frilly shirts; crushed velvet trousers. Oh, and there was my pair of red Dolce & Gabbana shoes given to me personally by Stefano Gabanna in ‘96. So not your typical C.P. Company and Stone Island Manc influencer!
My first introduction to gear like C.P. and Stone Island was a band who lived down the A6 from me – Oasis. Back when I was 16, I did some modelling work and I remember being at the Airport ready to go to Milan. In the duty-free store, brand new out, was “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” I remember being so excited because I'd just bought myself the new Sony Walkman WM FX 211. I grabbed a copy of the album on cassette and for the next year didn’t listen to anything else. It was this album and the genius of Noel and Liam Gallagher I still go back to today time and time again.
EJ: 7L boasts some serious outerwear credentials. Talk us through what’s under the bonnet, so to speak.
JL: Not to go into great detail, but our current TREK SYSTEM - available via our online shop - boasts some incredible examples of fabric technologies, pioneered and engineered by Schoeller in Switzerland. I mean, have you ever had a jacket that’s fabric structure opens when the outside temperature rises, and closes again when the outside temperature drops? Pretty impressive stuff. This technology also works in leisure activities like hiking, mountaineering, skiing etc.
Inside the jacket when at higher internal temperatures, the polymer structure of the c_change® membrane opens in response to the intense moisture and excess heat allowing moisture to escape to the outside air. It works the opposite way, too. At times of low activity the membrane remains closed. As a result of the lower moisture development, the polymer structure contracts and keeps the heat close to the body. This effectively prevents shivering. Clever right?
7L were also awarded a partnership with Manchester University’s Graphene Institute and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) project: Bridging the Gap, who last year secured a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant. This gives 7L access to world-class labs and engineers in the development of Graphene based performance products and fabrics.
For those who don’t know about Graphene it is a form of carbon. It’s not only the thinnest ever material but also the strongest. How does this fit in with 7L? You’ll just have to wait and see! All of our current fabric technologies can be found on our website under the “About” Section sub header “Technologies”.
EJ: Are there any challenges that go along with finding that sweet spot between style and functionality?
JL: I want to use the best fabrics, the best technologies, loads of pockets and zips, everything to be highly breathable and totally waterproof, and of course to look amazing. It’s a tough market, but with our new ORIGIN SYSTEM I have personally worked relentlessly with our designer Chris Vandrill and the production team (headed by Shu-Ling Li) in finding the best quality supply chain and materials. I think and hope our consumers will be very satisfied with the value to money ratio in our AW20 system.
Explain 7L (Seven Layer) philosophy to us. What does the brand stand for?
The core philosophy of 7L is to create functional-first, luxury garments that harness a unique combination of innovative design, high-performance fabrics and technically advanced manufacturing techniques. Our responsibly, ethically sourced supply chain is paramount to the success of the brand, and 7L will ensure that they are regularly managed through our Management System. Quality and Customer Satisfaction are the fundamental core values of the brand, transferring our knowledge, passion and attention to detail into every garment we produce. Our values of Respect and Integrity will ensure our customers receive the best apparel on the planet.
EJ: You’ve had a pretty interesting and varied career so far. Do you think your experience with fashion, photography, art, and good old-fashioned pragmatism have helped you along with 7L?
JL: Personally, I believe if 7L had presented itself to me before 2017, I wouldn’t have been ready. I believe certain things happen at certain times of your life, for certain reasons.
My experience with fashion helped my photography, my photography helped my mental health, my mental health helped my career and my overall experience in life helped me along with 7L. I tend to always go with my gut, whether that’s a decision on people, suppliers, styles, colours, fabrics, marketing etc., I go with my gut. It means that I 100% believe in what we’re doing and that creates passion. Passion and hard work can create something genius.
ES: For the sake of our more Southern readers who have yet to visit, what’s worth checking out in Manchester nowadays? How has the city changed over the years?
JL: For me Manchester has struggled since the collapse of the music industry and the bombing of the Arndale Centre in 1996. With the Northern Quarter doing its bit and clinging on to some form of identity, it was desperate for some investment and redevelopment. That investment is now a reality and Manchester is being transformed into the metropolis it deserves to be. Off the top of my head places worth a visit are, the Northern Quarter, Oi Polloi (Menswear Store), Afflecks Palace, Salford Quays, The Lowry, The Science and Industry Museum, Castlefield, John Rylands Library, Spinningfields, The Printworks, and 20 Stories.
EJ: And finally, what’s next for 7L in 2020? What should we be looking out for?
JL: Obviously, the pandemic has created some major economic turmoil for the world, so we are keeping our eye on that, but we are hopeful that our collaboration with English Fine Cottons will be ready by June / July 2020. EFC has invested a huge amount of money renovating Tower Mill, in Dukinfield near Manchester, which was first used for cotton spinning in 1886. Following the successful renovation, it now houses one of the most advanced and productive textile manufacturing facilities in the world today. 100% made in Manchester 7L tees, crew sweaters and next year, hoodies.
Another very important and exciting project for us is our collaboration with British Brand ArkAir. I wanted to bring that timeless military aesthetic to the brand, but do it in a very cool, masculine way. Sitting in Arktis’/ArkAir’s archives room and combing through camo print after camo print, choosing which one we’d like for the brand was an amazing experience. To pick and own your own custom brand camo and print is very cool and exciting. The final products are looking sick.
We can also expect more technical fabrics and beautifully crafted jackets with our new Autumn/Winter 20 (AW20) ORIGIN SYSTEM. This will encompass all layers from Layer 1 to Layer 7. Coronavirus permitting these will be ready to drop at the end of September, just in time for that windy weather and cold snap after Xmas.