Fluffy Dreams: A Chat With TDS' Lettie Pattinson

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Confession time: I wasn’t one of the cool girls who got on board with faux-furriers TDS when they first set up shop. In fact I hadn’t discovered the brand until around two months ago, but I’m already very much in love. Like all good love affairs, my relationship with TDS has certainly kept me on my toes. Instead of dangling their wares in front of us 24/7 like most other fashion brands in our ever-connected age, TDS drops a new, limited edition collection on their website every few weeks. And by ‘limited edition’, I mean that each fluffy bomber jacket is a complete one-off. As you might have guessed, these jackets sell out very quickly – think Balmain x H&M, but on a smaller scale, with nicer clothes – which means that, if you are lucky enough to grab one online, your TDS jacket feels very much like your baby (well, you basically fought for it after all) and you want to take it everywhere.

I receive compliments whenever I wear my TDS ‘Toya‘ bomber (see above for pics. Please excuse my use of my phone’s grainy selfie cam – I have laryngitis at the moment so am doing a lot of hanging out in the house on my own as I physically cannot speak). As someone whose style is very minimal, putting on my layer of faux fur cosiness every morning makes me feel like the Cool Fashion Girl I’ll never be. 

I spoke to Lettie Pattinson – one half of TDS’ mother-daughter design duo – about fun fur, social media strategies and the enduring appeal of bomber jackets. 

First and foremost, what’s the story behind TDS? How do you and your mum split the workload? 

My mum, Sally, lectured in fashion and textiles for over 20 years! I have always been surrounded by fabrics, textures and design since a young age. Despite being exposed to sewing and actual clothing construction, I never took it up as a hobby or career. I studied Media Production at university and have always loved taking photos, styling images, editing and social media, so that’s how the workload is split. We both design the garments whilst my mum actually makes the jackets from her home studio. I then do all the marketing, social media, photography and styling – which is how and why TDS has become what it has, through the power of social media. Around university I would always wear clothing which was made by my mum and people used to stop and ask where various pieces were from. They couldn’t believe it when I said my mum had made it, so that’s when I decided to create an Instagram, taking photos of the design process and the making of clothing. 

Why do you think ‘fun’ faux fur is so hot at the moment? It was all over the high street last winter (and looks like it will be this year), and brands like TDS, Shrimps and Charlotte Simone are all killing it. What’s going on?!

I think faux fur is timeless – especially the fun, bright bold prints that you can get with faux fur – it really mixes up the traditional colour palettes and makes more of a fashion statement. Most importantly, it’s ethical and against animal cruelty. With the bright colours, anyone of any age can jazz up their wardrobe and still be warm during the autumn/winter seasons! 

What challenges (if any) have you had when working with your mum? I know I couldn’t do it as we’d drive each other mad!

I am definitely the more laid-back half of the business! I tend to have quite a relaxed approach to certain situations, whereas Mum is very organised and likes targets to be completed for set times and dates… I have a very different attitude! Apart from that, there are no challenges! We are both very similar and appreciate and understand each others’ workloads and are very supportive of that. We are there for one another and try to advise each other in the best possible way. [There are times when] I try to help with a sewing problem or Mum tries to help with a camera issue – we have no real idea, but definitely aim to help and solve the problem for one another. 

You’re going to be at The Clothes Show this December discussing social media and fashion. Why do you think social media is important today for fashion brands? Do you think TDS would be where it is today without your social media presence? 

We can’t wait for that! [Social media] is so important. Without the power of social media, TDS would not be what it is. We live in a society where most people – if not everyone – are part of the social media community, be that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever. It’s the 21st century, where everyone has instant access to the latest trends, news, celebrity updates, photographs etc. Social media is especially important for fashion brands, and up-and-coming brands too. Social media is free, which is great. You have that power to work hard and build up a strong brand just by having an online presence! For anyone thinking about turning to social media to start a brand, definitely go for it. Don’t worry about not standing out or gaining the following you so wish for – all of that will come as long as you’re an active user. Use and take good, intriguing photographs and engage with people around the world to build up a following that believes in your brand! It’s now so easy to communicate with a range of people and subjects even just by hashtagging. Through social media, you start meeting people and build up a friendship with them – we now have friends and clients around the world – another great aspect of social media. 

Who are your own personal style icons? Are there any particular girls you have in mind when you’re designing? 

I have always looked up to my mum for fashion inspiration! When I was very young, she would pick me up from school and be wearing the most amazing outfit – wedges with flares or a dress with a chunky belt. My mum still has the best eye for colour co-ordination and accessories! Mum loves Vivienne Westwood for her use of the history of costume within her designs and the construction of clothing. I don’t tend to follow fashion trends myself. I just wear what I think looks good. Sometimes it works; sometimes I come downstairs to be asked by Mum: “what on earth are you wearing!?” 

What’s next for TDS? Do you have any plans to venture into the realm of accessories, like Shrimps has done? 

While the faux fur trend is still hot we will continue following it! We are definitely looking into accessories, and also introducing the TDS Stroller, which is a longer version of the bomber jacket – I have seen it and tried it on and don’t want to part with it! It is beautiful, so we are very excited about showcasing that. The beauty with our products, which makes us different to most big fashion houses, is that every TDS garment has been not only handmade to a high standard, but is an exclusive, one-off, bespoke design. There is something very special about owning a TDS jacket and knowing that no-one else has the same piece of clothing as you! In today’s society, I find it hard to own and wear something that is totally unique. With TDS you know you have something that’s truly yours!

NB: This article was originally published by The Closet.