SAPEUR - ONE STEP BEYOND
Our new friends over in Germany, Sapeur, intrigued by the current wave 7L are on, speak with our Founder, Owner, CEO and Creative Director Jamie Lundy.
Sapeur – One Step Beyond
Born from our passion for football and casual culture, Sapeur – One Step Beyond is an independent blog dedicated to the way of life and the dressing style inspired by the terraces and british subculture. Since 2014 we are pinning stories on our culture, new releases and brands, keep an eye on new sneakers and exhibitions and chat with brands, authors and artists from all over the world. Always one step beyond!
For our latest interview, we caught up with Jamie from 7L SEVEN LAYER, one of the most innovative and forward-thinking clothing brands that we’re excited about and hope to see in the future.
Hailing from Manchester, the brand is ready to shake up the industry with their functional and innovative designs, mixed with a unique style and fit for the new wave of fashion. The first exclamation marks have been put on it with the release of an impressive collabo with ArkAir.
We present the Jamie and 7L SEVEN LAYER to you today.
Hello Jamie, how are you?
Very well thank you. Thankful to be busy during these testing times. Launching a brand during the pandemic hasn’t been easy, but we have worked so hard as a team and had great feedback to the both the brand and product, which has led to us opening the flagship shop in Alderley Edge. Hopefully we will be able to open properly in the coming weeks.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? Did you already work in the fashion industry?
I have a fashion background from my younger days yes, but my career was in engineering for the family business. We won awards for designing the infrastructure of the national railway signalling system – it’s work where the attention to the finer detail is of paramount importance and this has been integral to what I do now.
What made you start 7L and what does the name stand for?
After we sold the family business I was a bit lost and struggling mentally to be honest, so I started to develop another passion of mine in photography. I was asked by a friend to take photographs for a brand called 7L Systems and that was the first introduction.
Further down the line I was asked to come on board with the brand as the MD – it was already a good business, but I wanted to put my own stamp on the design, fabrics and the business – across the board – and that’s when the real hard work started.
It has taken three years of hard work to get to the point of starting the new-wave SEVENLAYER brand, but it has been worth it and we are in a great place.
The name derives from a US military layering system, the fundamentals of which we are still aligned to, where pieces can be worn individually and where some pieces can be put together.
How would you describe your target group?
We are a brand without boundaries and it’s important for us to have an appeal to an audience that believes in considered purchasing and the value of well-made and well-designed garments. We consider ourselves to be the outerwear brand of the future.
Of course there is a market for us in guys that are passionate and knowledgable about their coats and jackets, from the casuals through to fans of brands like
Massimo Osti and of course CP – we fit that bill. However, our craftsmanship and innovation stands out. We are all about fashion with function and style with performance.
How can we imagine the process of product development?
Myself and designer Chris Vandrill work tirelessly on new innovations and designs and researching new fabrics. Some things work, some things cause differences of opinion but fundamentally, the time we spend together and that process of being in the same room working things out is key to the success of the brand so far.
We come up with a brief together and then Chris will go away and work on designs for us to pour over and adapt/change if need be. I know what I want and can be quite forthright with that, but it’s a relationship that works and the latest
collection is looking outstanding.
You emphasize on that Made in Manchester craftsmanship aspect. Why is this so important to you?
I am from Manchester originally and our cotton mill history and heritage is huge. This thriving city industry all but died out and only recently have we seen a resurgence.
I want to create the very best products utilising the very best fabrics and at the same time supporting local industry – hence our work with English Fine Cottons, and more recently Lancaster University. We also support Made In Britain and have
continued our partnership with ArkAir, where we have carefully curated excellent camo prints.
Jamie, what were your first goals or milestones for 7L?
Really, fundamentally to design and create garments that I was proud of. There was a lot of work to do within the brand at the start and it has taken a lot of time to get right, so I guess just to get the house in order to give us the best chance of producing world class product.
Which brands do you like to wear yourself?
Apart from 7L ? It’s actually what I wear to be honest, as we produce everything from T-shirts, sweatshirts and pants as well as of course our outerwear.
Personally, I have an appreciation for brands including Universal Works, Adidas Originals, Converse – I like workwear and the casual look really. Being from Manchester and from that time of the music scene going crazy and the football casuals movement, I have an affinity with that overall look I guess.
Manchester has a rich football culture and is home to the style from the terraces. Did the casual culture have an influence on 7L?
Ha ha – It has a place, but more so because that big parka and statement outerwear took the terraces by storm in the 90’s here in the UK, so by it’s nature it has a relevance. It’s not directly inspired.
Our overall aesthetic also has Japanese and US influence, that workwear look as I mentioned. We believe in not overcomplicating our designs so everything is
functional and of course stylish in an ‘easy way’.
If my information is correct, your gear is currently only available via your Webshop and Woodhouse Clothing. What are your plans for the future?
We have a flagship store opening in Alderley Edge near Manchester. It is currently being designed ready for opening after the lockdown eases.
We actually managed to open in early December last year for a few weeks as a pop-up and did VERY well. So we are excited to say the least. The space looks amazing.
Following this, we will be looking at opening more stores of course.
Your garments are specified in different categories like LAYER 1 to 7, Origin System Pack and Trek System. Could you please explain the philosphy and technology behind it?
Our first real start of the new SEVENLAYER brand was with ORIGIN last year and the response was fantastic and has really kick-started things for us.
As mentioned before, the platform is taken from a US army layering system, adapted for a new-wave audience. The brand was very technical as 7L Systems, perhaps too much, but our philosophy is to produce functional garments with a natural, organic style that captures our innovative design ethos. We are high quality, transparent and clear in the purpose of our products.
Which garment would you point out as a signature piece of 7L?
I would probably have to say the Waterproof Outer – the shell jacket which we have produced in orange, black and then a limited edition combination of the two. This jacket is made from 100% Japanese recycled polyester and a recycled hydrophilic membrane with the outer fabric including non-fluorinated durable water-repellant finish.
This is also part of the layering system as the Modula Down Outer (layer 7) zips directly inside.
2020 wasn’t a normal year. How has the lockdown affected your brand?
It was a shocking year and so terrible for so many people and it continues. It has really shown the importance of family and friends over business.
Of course the business side of things proved to be difficult for various reasons and as mentioned the shop has been delayed for a number of months due to lockdown. But we are here and the positive is that we have done very well under the circumstances. We are healthy and our families are healthy thankfully.
Recently, you did a collection with ArkAir and I really love the Night Cam Field Jacket. How did you join forces with them and what do you think about the result of your first collab?
It’s a hugely popular piece within the collection, I was very pleased with the
result with the Night Cam parka and the process was so interesting. I was like a kid in a sweet shop going through the books of ArkAir’s heritage and prints. It’s a no brainer for us to continue and plays a huge part in the new MTP collection.
Beside the Jackets one of my favourite 7L garments is the Crew Neck. Can you give us more insights on how you are bringing cotton back to Britain?
Yes of course, Our sweatshirts and T-shirts are made via English Fine Cottons based at the Tower Mill in Dukinfield near Manchester. As I mentioned earlier, this area is steeped in history for producing the best in quality cotton garments and therefore we are supporting local industry, but because it is THE BEST.
I believe there is a responsibility for us to work with local crafts-people IF we believe that what is being produced is the very best in quality and it is.
To get that straight: Your flagship store will be located in Manchester, is that correct?
We are opening the shop in Alderley Edge which is a small affluent town close to Manchester. We have a beautiful corner location on the High Street and have worked closely with London-based design agency BusbyWebb. It looks amazing and we can’t wait to be able to host customers in the space.
We are all about interacting with people to walk and talk them through the story and the collection.
And finally: What´s next for SEVEN LAYER?
It’s all about the new MTP collection, where we take a more masculine aesthetic through the garments, which carry the camo prints as well as plain colour-ways including beige and Khaki green. We have also introduced new pieces including the pants and hats as well as an evolution of the over-shirt.Of course we then have the shop opening and the launch, so that is very exciting for us.
7L SEVEN LAYER