A Closer Look At: Freston

Growing up in Highgate, London, Cecily Bear clearly remembers Cath Kidston being close to her heart. “I always loved Cath,” says the Senior Designer of bags and accessories. Then years later and before joining the company she “kitted out” her kid’s bedrooms in Cath. “It has always been a big part of my life, so I was thrilled to get the job.”

Here Cecily, tells us about Cath Kidston’s newest launch Freston, and what makes the new premium range so special.

 

What makes the Freston range unique?

“It starts with the print – I love that the Cath Kidston logo is within it, but done in a subtle way. But also, there has been a real attention to detail with the quality of all the products within the collection. It’s really exciting for the whole team to be doing a range at a slightly higher price point, with plenty of luxury elements such as the leather trims that are dyed up from our lovely rich vegetable tans to match the ground colours within the Freston print.”

So there are lots of premium details?

“Yes, there is also leather detailing on the top edge of the bags and accessories and also the zip pulls, including the internal zip, which is something that can be overlooked, because it is hidden. We really tried to extend the premium elements throughout the entirety of the pieces. The range definitely has a more luxurious feel, it’s a new area for Cath Kidston and something we really believe in and want to roll with. There will be more more products to come, so we all really hope it works!”

The embossed stud and logo also elevate the pieces…

“They are something we hadn’t done on bags before and they add to the luxe feel – it has turned out really well. Having a signature detail was something I worked on very closely. I asked myself how I could take the outline of the original Provence rose flower, which is key to the Freston print, and turn it into something more modern that we could roll out across the whole range as it expands. I simplified the shape and worked towards making a flower that could be embossed onto leather and also onto studs. Then we took the idea of the studs and thought out how they would look layered on top of a flower cut out of leather in the same shape. That became the branding and we are really happy with the result – whenever the stud appears on the product there is a leather cut out behind it. That continues throughout the entire range.”

The classic cowboy drawing and Somerset Rose placements look great…

“The first two Freston colours are navy and taupe and the classic archive cowboy and Somerset Rose prints are layered over some of the products. This is where we wanted to mix in a bit of novelty onto our ground Freston print. It offers something with more of a personality that is quite classic and cool – it starts to have a bit of fun.”

The cross body bag has a choice of two straps…

“Yes, we did a webbing strap and a leather one, so the bag has a dual use. It can become a bit more casual at the weekend with the webbing strap, with the leather strap being smarter for work. Cath Kidston is well-known for the webbing stripes so I think this is something we really want to expand on as we work on new ranges within Freston. It feels unique to Cath.

 

 

Can you tell us about the rest of the collection?

“There is also the classic zip-top tote, which is practical and fits over your shoulder with has the security of a strap at the top. Then there are the pouches that you could either take out for an evening or pop it inside your tote bag – it can kind of wrap around the inside handle. I feel they are key items as you can put all your essentials in them – it feels more modern than carrying a purse. I love the cardholders as well. They have zip slots on the back of them. There are also all of the Cath Kidston core shapes in purses and wallets. Then the rucksack, which is really sweet, it’s actually a little smaller and smarter than our previous ones. Finally the little grab cross body bag, which is a new shape for us – really boxy with two zips. We know our girl loves a crossbody and this one has lots of nice surprise detail on the inside.”

Do you have a personal favourite in the Freston range?

“There are some really sweet pieces, but for me the newness definitely comes from the little demi bags, which is my personal favourite. They are born from our bigger demi bag that comes with a chain strap.

 

 

What is the production process?

“We started by sketching out all the different shapes for the various products, there was a lot more that we tried out before reaching the final edited-down collection. These sketches were then sent off to Hong Kong and China so the factories could make up the first samples. I then travel over there to give my comments at this stage, for example ‘This bit needs to be a bit bigger’, ’That one just hasn’t worked’ or ‘We need to think about adding this one in’. So it’s quite a hands on process, but exciting to see them coming together.”

Do you speak with the team to show them the process?

“Yes, absolutely. As soon as I see something great I’m always sharing it. We have a group WhatsApp and I’ll say, ‘Have a look at this’. I’m often the first person to see the product so I’m always excited to share the good news with the rest of the team.”

Shop the brand new premium collection now.