Todd – Head of Design at Finisterre – on diving into the archives for the firm’s Natural History Museum collection

Todd, Head of Design at Finisterre, tells us how the team got to grips with the Museum’s cave of wonders when developing the apparel and accessories ranges.

For the past two years, sustainable outdoor brand Finisterre has collaborated with the Natural History Museum on collections spanning apparel, swimwear and accessories.

The widely celebrated range also picked up the award for Best Brand Licensed Adult Apparel Product or Range at last year’s Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards.

We caught up with Todd, Head of Design at Finisterre, to find out more about how the team got to grips with the Museum’s vast archives when developing the collections.

Andrew Todd, Finisterre, Natural History Museum

Hi Todd, great to connect. To kick us off, how did you find yourself working in design?
I’d left my hometown in pursuit of a creative career within fashion design, and found myself becoming more and more focused on products that are designed for a real purpose other than just looking good. While aesthetic is essential, there’s a real passion to dig deeper – focusing on the functionality and teaming that up with innovative and sustainable materials.

I always thought I’d be an artist, but I guess even art needs designing right?!

“The opportunity to work with actual Charles Darwin notebooks and studies was too amazing to resist.”

Absolutely! You’re Head of Design at Finisterre. How would you sum up Finisterre’s approach to design?
We have set principles we design into. Our ranges are built for purpose, longevity and durability. We consider positive and negative impact on the ocean. And it’s designed for future life, whether that’s to be recycled, repaired, reused and so on.

Andrew Todd, Finisterre, Natural History Museum

How did the collaboration with Natural History Museum come about? What appealed about working with the brand?
The licensing wing of the Natural History Museum contacted us actually, and we were incredibly excited to make something special happen. The Museum is a world institution and integral to the education of our natural world and how we need to protect it. It made every sense to work together.

Andrew Todd, Finisterre, Natural History Museum

Yes, it feels like a great meeting of values. The Museum’s archives are vast, and I imagine you could’ve gone in several different directions with your collaboration. Talk us through those first few creative steps in terms of deciding what direction to go in?
We knew we needed to narrow down the ideas or else we’d still be there looking through those archives! It was decided from the very beginning we would focus on the ocean and then progressed towards oceanic travel and exploration.

“It’s incredible to work with institutions that don’t immediately scream apparel.”

The opportunity to work with actual Charles Darwin notebooks and studies was too amazing to resist and we were able to team that up with the illustrations and incredible story of Maria Sibylla Merian. What an incredible woman!

Andrew Todd, Finisterre, Natural History Museum

So, once you’d settled on oceanic travel and exploration as the theme, how did you go about translating that into apparel?
We highlighted the products we felt most suited to a small collaboration capsule and then figured out which pieces would be the best to showcase print artwork.

We took elements of illustration, handwriting, and an actual Darwin signature – he signed the museum guest book when he first visited! – and collaged them into very unique and exclusive prints. I’m incredible proud of what we achieved with this artwork.

Andrew Todd, Finisterre, Natural History Museum

Yes, we have a great shot of the final apparel next to the inspiration there. Looks fantastic. You mentioned earlier about sustainability, and that’s at the heart of the Natural History Museum brand. Did this impact how this range was put together at all?
Sustainability has been a driving force for Finisterre since we were founded in 2003, so this part was very straightforward for us. The swimwear we created was made from discarded fishing nets, and we teamed that up with accessories made from plastic bottles and some amazing organic natural fibres.

Andrew Todd, Finisterre, Natural History Museum

Amazing stuff. Looking ahead, are these kinds of brand collaborations an area of interest for Finisterre moving forward?
It’s incredible to work with institutions and organisations that don’t immediately scream apparel and accessories. It’s essentially a meeting of minds and values, and looking for a way to create a product from this. That challenge is brilliant for us and I’d love to have more opportunities like this.

Final question! How do you fuel your creativity?
I think designers just have ‘that’ passion. Constant looking around, reading and definitely more visits to the Natural History Museum.

Can’t argue with that. Todd, this has been fun. Thanks again and good luck with the continued success of your collabs.

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