Sometime around the end of May, when the world was waist-deep in the pandemic and clamoring for a breath of fresh air, temperatures finally warmed up and women reached for their summer dresses. Steadily, one specific frock emerged on social media; slow at first, then it snowballed. It was Tove's Ceres Dress. The 100% cotton garment featured intricate gathered detailing throughout the neckline and bodice, breezy front tie closures, and an elegant full-skirted silhouette. It was precisely the sartorial salve every woman needed at that exact moment in time.
Tove Founders Camille Perry and Holly Wright launched their London-based label just last year and had the misfortune of navigating a global epidemic on top of the traditional struggles of shaping a new business — but they were nimble and did so in stride. On top of the massive success of their Ceres Dress (now arguably an 'It' item), the duo pivoted strategy for their collection schedules and even managed to add a fresh repertoire of sustainable fabrics to their catalog. Ahead, hear directly from the industry veterans (the two met while working as buying and design heads at Topshop) on how COVID-19 impacted their work as designers as well as their insights into how this turbulent year will shape the future of fashion. Plus, scroll through the brand's lust-worthy Spring/Summer 2021 photoshoot ahead of the collection launching early next year.
Tove: On Navigating 2020
This year has been a worrying enigma with hurdles at every turn — especially if you're a small business owner. "The pandemic naturally brought unexpected changes to [Tove]. Managing all the different facets of our business globally through the lockdowns was particularly challenging," Perry tells TZR. "However, as a young brand, we were fortunate that our size meant that we were able to pivot and adapt quickly. That dexterity helped us navigate through the uncertainty." Another silver lining of remaining in lockdown, Wright notes, was the opportunity to slow down and focus inward. "Without the usual distractions, we spent our time honing our creative ideas for the brand and its future," she says. "It was a hugely positive experience for us."
Tove: On Post-Pandemic Fashion
The prevailing theme Perry and Wright ascertained from this year was a heightened focus on sustainability. "Our hope is that we will see a continuation of this narrative," Perry says. "That women will make considered choices when buying for their wardrobe, choosing pieces that feel relevant today and in years to come." The design duo has tapped into a collective yearning for long-lasting, always-relevant pieces that encourage skipping the superfluous purchase and sticking with what works consistently. "Our sensibility is that we design beautiful pieces that feel modern and feminine. Pieces that have a timeless nature and can transition seamlessly between occasions," Wright explains. "A piece needs to work hard for the wearer and to never feel restrictive. The shift in lifestyles of so many women during the pandemic was almost like a stamp of approval to our ethos. We thought to ourselves ‘we are doing something right’ when we saw so many women wearing the Ceres Dress throughout the summer and beyond."
Tove: On a Positive Future
Sure, it's not easy to spin 2020 as a good year, per se. But Tove is optimistic about the future. "The turbulence of this year made us determined to reflect hope and positivity going forward for all our collections," Perry shares. The upcoming Spring/Summer 2021 collection (in stores between January and February of next year) is a refreshing feast for the eyes. "The color palette for our SS21 summer collection is full of colors like fuchsia, cobalt, marigold, orange, and sage; it feels joyful and optimistic," Wright says. "We wanted the collection to be emotional and clothes to speak for themselves. We introduced a lot of new separates like airy pull-on organic cotton trousers, a ruched bralette, shorts, and British heritage tweed suiting. The hope that these pieces will make everyday life a little easier and more beautiful for lots of women."
Tove: On Responsible Fashion
Crafting a collection of pieces that can be worn season after season (and paired with items from other collections) is certainly not the sole sustainability angle Tove embraces. "Our approach is that we consider sustainability with every aspect of the brand. From our fabrics and how they are crafted, through to choosing our recycled labels and reusable woven packaging," Perry explains. "For us, we feel this holistic view is the only place to start." She acknowledges that it's always a work in progress, though. "It is also important to stay focused and don’t try to make everything at once. Great changes don’t happen instantly."
For the brand's Spring/Summer 2021 collection, Tove worked with a collective of mills in Italy and a heritage British mill to develop and source their sustainable luxury fabrics. "Our British heritage tweed is made mostly of wool, cotton, and linen so it’s airy and lightweight," Perry says. "Even though it appears in tailoring, the pieces feel very easy and effortless when on." On top of the brand's existing inventory of organic cotton and silks, they "also introduced a recycled moire taffeta made from recycled polyester, which helps to divert used plastic from landfills and the ocean," Wright shares. "It is as good as virgin polyester but takes fewer resources and chemicals to make."
Tove: On Spring/Summer 2021 Style
Though the Tove aesthetic isn't trend-driven, that doesn't mean it lacks a point of view. For the Spring/Summer 2021 season, the two are leaning into a diverse array of proportions, silhouettes, and layering combinations. "We have introduced a relaxed trapeze silhouette in our Anna Dress and Hana Top. Both are made in organic cotton and have true ease in terms of their silhouette," Perry shares. "We like to layer our Hana Top over our Brigette shorts for the perfect summer vacation look." Wright adds that the wide-leg cropped trouser silhouette is destined for summer dressing in the city. "Our Nola Trouser in beautiful sand-washed silk has the same relaxed proportions. Worn with our Vivian Spot Top in gathered organic cotton, this makes the perfect outfit for a summer city lunch through to a casual dinner occasion." Here's to responsibly-made style and warm summer city days.
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