Interview & Photoshoot - EUNICE OLUMIDE
Our latest collection of workwear-derived Outerwear is admittedly geared towards men but we want to step away from branding Finnieston Clothing exclusively as ‘menswear.’ We have undergone a massive transformation since our initial launch in 2018 and with another season or two under our belts, we want to get back to women’s designs in our future collections. In the meantime our current campaign seeks to demonstrate how certain silhouettes from our current range can be worn by everyone.
As a brand in its infancy, we had a lot on our plate the first time around, and we’re carrying forward our founding principles of quality, durability and sustainability with our current range, inspired by Glasgow’s shipbuilding heritage.
Exhibiting our Canadian Shawl Parka and Riveters Jacket is Eunice Olumide, Scottish supermodel, actor, artist, musician, broadcaster and self-described ‘Wee Edinburgh Lassie.’
Eunice first came to our attention whilst hosting ‘The Look’ - a panel at the V&A Museum in Dundee, featuring Vivienne Westwood back in November 2019. This was due in part to the participation of two representatives from our fabric supplier Halley Stevensons. The theme which caught our attention was ‘Choose Well, Buy Less, Make it Last.’ As a brand we felt this aligned greatly with our founding principles. We are aware of the huge impact of the fashion industry on the planet, and seek to cater to those who say ‘NO.’ to fast fashion by first building our Finnieston Clothing community here in Glasgow, and then beyond!
We were impressed at how Eunice came across, her feet firmly on the ground, speaking passionately at the helm of such a prestigious event and perhaps the most noticeable detail - a young Scottish voice in fashion isn’t all that common! Eunice's was awarded the position as a V&A Design Champion noting even working with the dedicated V&A team is an honour in itself.
‘I am so proud of the work that has been done under Philip Long (V&A Dundee's Founding Director), proving Scotland is a dynamic and forward thinking country of culture and talent.’
We sent her one of our Dazzle Camouflage scarves as a token of our admiration after the show and she graciously wore it to a BBC event later that month, supporting our growing brand from the outset – thanks Eunice!
Cut to today and we arrive at the studio of our good friend and photography hero Andrew – or ‘Curse These Eyes’ as you may already know him. Andrew’s been our go-to guy for Finnieston Clothing product photography for about a year now and we’re delighted to finally get into his new huge studio space in Glasgow for our campaign with Eunice. Over the last twelve months he’s been a tremendous support, putting in the hours to ensure our range is represented perfectly. He’s been in late last night to repaint the floor so that everything is perfect for today. It’s all about attention to detail with Andrew. The post rush hour traffic thunders over the Kingston Bridge above our heads as he opens the shutters and we spill in and set up - but not before we’re handed out our plastic overshoes, we don’t want to get that fresh paint dusty!
2020 has been a crazy year and we’re quick to get to work especially as Eunice has just flown back from Fashion Week in London last night and she’s heading back to London tomorrow! During the COVID-19 Outbreak Eunice explains modelling has had to take a back seat. She has focussed on looking after her family and close relatives as well as working in her local community delivering food parcels and checking in on neighbours.
She has however put that ‘down time’ to good use, founding her own charity – ‘African Diaspora Business Support Foundation’ – aimed at supporting Afro-Caribbeans in Business which Eunice explains has been a massive undertaking, but she is excited for the future. The charity is supported by Tech UK, DCA Generation and McKinsey Group amongst others. The charity was founded on the UK first landmark policy developed and proposed by Councillor Danish Ashraf in conjunction with Eunice, who has been urging the Scottish Government to bring educational reform to include Afro-Scottish History in the curriculum.
Originally from Edinburgh, Eunice has been involved in fashion since she was fifteen years old. She then took a break from modelling to go to University and by age twenty-one had graduated with a BA and a Masters - since then there’s almost too much to list! Although now an international star in loads of fields, Eunice tells us how she has missed a lot of key opportunities in fashion. She describes how her career stunted before it became fashionable to talk about race, owing to her equal rights and social justice work.
‘It’s a shame that as a young woman of colour in the 21st century, there’s STILL a stigma attached to speaking publicly about equality… we are sending out the message that it’s better to look good and stand for nothing than try to help people.’
We can’t begin to imagine what it’s been like for Eunice, but we think she is a total hero and her success today boils down to two things. Hard graft and integrity – a role model for us all. Career highlights include all of the ‘incredible inimitable people’ she has met along the road. Inimitable is exactly how we’d describe Eunice, and today is definitely a highlight for us!
Three years ago she was awarded an MBE for her contribution to the Arts, Broadcasting and also Charity Work. The MBE was a bittersweet accolade for Eunice. Born in Scotland to Nigerian parents, she mentions how extremely conscious of the continued exploitation and misrepresentation of African people she is. Eunice firmly and openly condemns colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade something which Britain played a huge part in – a view which earned her rapturous applause when appearing on Question Time last year.
After deep consideration she chose to accept her MBE, to help shine a spotlight on her charities and causes and a year later donated the award to the National Museum of Scotland, to inspire others, showing them she managed to achieve her dreams despite spending her younger days on a tough council estate, Wester Hailes, just outside of the capital.
So what does the wee Edinburgh lassie think about our home city Glasgow?
‘Glasgow is the centre of the world, bursting with ingenuity, a multicultural melting pot of diversity and brilliant people. I always say that Glasgow’s a place I could go any time day or night and be welcomed by a friend there even if I hadn’t seen them for years. That’s true love, that’s humanity.’
We tend to agree, we’re a pretty friendly bunch – modest too - but we aren’t quite off the hook. The side of Glasgow Eunice is less keen on is the perspective us Glaswegians tend to have about Edinburgh, which she says is judgment based on the capital’s City Centre as it doesn’t represent ‘the true Edinburgh.’
‘Edinburgh has just as much poverty and council estates – why do you think Trainspotting was made there… the only difference is the estates are often hidden on the outskirts… I wish that Scotland could come together to show the world how amazing we truly are.’
We could all learn a lot from Eunice.
Asked about her thoughts on Finnieston Clothing she says, ‘Finnieston Clothing is brilliant. It’s a fantastic new Scottish brand that cares about its customer.’ We really do! We’re always on hand to help and on a mission to bring our customer the best quality product for their money – no hidden agenda! Any questions? Just ask! Any suggestions? We listen! It’s the beauty of being a brand of our size.
‘On top of that the clothing is not only practical and stylish but so good for the weather.’ On the Canadian Shawl Parka ‘I always feel snug as a bug and it will last forever!’
Today in the spirit of supporting small Scottish brands we’ve teamed up with Hayley McSporran Studio and Law Design Studio, both based in Glasgow. Eunice wears Law Design Studio Charlie Linen Dungarees with our Canadian Shawl Parka. Hayley Mc Sporran’s Minimal Crossbody Bag is teamed up with our Riveters Jacket. Since their launch last month these particular jackets due to their versatility have proven popular with men and women and we've hauled in Eunice as our ladies mannequin(!)
At Finnieston Clothing we have lots of long term goals, but that doesn’t call for compromise in the short term. We will always seek the best materials for the job and we will always work with as many people as close to home as possible whether it's graphic designers, photographers, models, suppliers or other small businesses.
We will always use the best factories and suppliers with good reputations that adhere to strict social and environmental criteria. Sadly all of this stuff we should really just expect to be the case across the industry is nowhere near true. For the consumer it means higher costs. A lot more than we’ve historically been used to paying as a society. But fast fashion isn’t completely cheap. Someone is paying, somewhere. Whether its child or slave labour, farmers, factory workers – people and the environment are being exploited and it has to stop.
We want to shape our Finnieston Clothing family to include those who understand that the industry NEEDS to change. People who choose to invest in quality, who look after our garments and make them last. In exchange we will consistently offer the absolute best product possible for a FAIR price and give back as we go. COVID-19 has made 2020 a very strange year indeed. But we are more determined than ever to be the change that the industry needs.
With bricks and mortar in Glasgow now on the horizon, we’re ready for the next chapter. Are you?
Photography: Andrew Jackson @cursetheseeyes
Minimal Crossbody Bag – @hayleymcsporranstudio
Charlie Linen Dungarees - @lawdesignstudio
Model: Eunice Olumide: @euniceolumide @olumidegallery @adbsfoundation
Check out Eunice’s new book!