Brand Profile: Theo Fennell in Great British Brands
29 January 2021
This piece originally appeared in Country & Town House’s Great British Brands
A key factor in the definition of luxury is the notion of time. For Theo Fennell, this year has been one of extraordinary challenges, but has also freed up more time for both the brand and its customers. Theo has found the time for press and online interviews, bringing the brand to the attention of new consumers (especially in the USA) who are craving both inspiring content and enduring artistry during dark times.
Marrying technology and craftsmanship, the brand is bringing its artisanal excellence directly into the homes of its consumers, who are able to monitor the entire process of their bespoke designs, from sketching to completion, via Zoom. ‘We are determined to keep the business together and prosper,’ says Theo. ‘We have had a functioning workshop and studio for over 40 years, through some really tough times, so we know what we are capable of.’
Despite the obvious problems of logistics, obtaining raw materials and specialist outworkers, the brand has found solutions to work around obstacles in a way that will completely change how it continues to function into the future. Its craftspeople have literally picked up their benches and transferred them to their homes or sheds and used technology to communicate with designer and consumer, ensuring that not one commission was withdrawn. Instagram Lives and online interviews are replacing more traditional PR and gaining new international audiences.
In addition to commissions, there has been time to research and create some beautiful and intricate new pieces – a Stonehenge opening ring studded with diamonds to represent the solstice star alignment, an 18ct gold smoky quartz ring with a handcrafted Joshua Tree within its opening dome and other, minutely crafted brooches and pendants, each containing their own precious secrets. New collections and reinterpretations have also been created – adding details to both The Devil and The Angel in the popular Arts collection, as well as presenting new imaginings of the much-loved Quiver design, which takes inspiration from the grace of the traditional British arrow, and creating new additions for the Icons, Crosses, Keys and Phi collections. Sparkling Crazy bangles added some uplifting pizzazz for the wrist, while the new Outline cuffs, with their rainbows of coloured stones, are both joyous and timeless.
Giving back during tough times is also a key focus for the brand. It chose to champion hard-hit charity the British Heart Foundation and local concern the Kensington & Chelsea Association, which help people in need across the largest London borough by donating a generous percentage from proceeds across a number of specialist online auctions.
‘Being a British company still carries an assumption of craftsmanship and fine detail, as well as a reputation for quirk and originality,’ says Theo. ‘This is something we should all guard jealously. The future of both jewellery and silversmithing seems to be a return to the values of authentically original design. Nothing could suit us more, or give us greater hope for the years to come.’