"It feels like the real start of Dodd," George Hudson declares as he places a pair of tea filled mugs on to his cutting table. He pauses with the excitement of his opening gambit still etched on his face. As we sit in his South East London studio, with a few promising seasons behind him, there's a discernible confidence that only develops with experience. "Dodd was something that happened quite organically after working in the industry for a few years but ultimately I came in to everything without the usual design education." Entering from a different door, Hudson has a seemingly unquenchable thirst to learn, to improve. The last year or two have been something of an education, the label ever developing as it matures. For autumn/winter 13 Dodd graduates, knowing exactly what it wants to be and what it wants to do. "We aim to create a clean minimal silhouette that uses a fusion of shapes, fabrics and production techniques."
"Coming in to this from outside a typical design background (excelling at tennis and swimming from a young age, Hudson was on a sport's scholarship in the US at UCI where he majored in History) has meant that this is a learning experience. It does create different ideas though, I see things differently and finding Dan, my design assistant and pattern cutter, has really helped focus Dodd. We're working closely together and that has helped advance Dodd. For us, moving forward everything has to feel new, progressive and clean," declares Hudson. The statement is a deceptively simple one but the foundations are now in place for the label to do just that. "With everything we've learned, the focus has been sourcing the best fabrics worldwide and working with the finest British producers. We've been looking to find the real gems. It's about doing things properly. It can't be rushed."
"This season evolved around an idea of horizontal banding, clean lines and the subtle mounting up of thin layers. There were a few John Pawson images on the mood board because I'm a huge fan of his. I have an awkward confession though. I recently read a quote from him that said something like, 'when fashion designers start talking about architecture as inspiration, then they've got nothing left to say'." Midway through the last sentence, a huge grin dissects the designer's face and a giggle echoes across the studio space. We can laugh because Hudson has plenty to say and he's only just finding his voice. "In addition to Pawson, I kept on going back to Klerksdorp spheres," he adds after composing himself. "My old housemate Ella is at Camberwell and she introduced me to them. They are these spherical fossils which have horizontal lines. One was taken to the Californian Space Institute and it as so perfectly round that they couldn't even measure it. Scientists have struggled explain them and they are all of these different myths flying around, from them being objects planted by God to the work of aliens. I'm just fascinated by them."
"We've played with texture a little but the focus is on creating wearable, interesting garments and advancing our techniques." The result is a considered collection showcasing fit, form and function, realised by an intimate network of British makers. A measured evolution of Dodd that builds on the success of a pre-collection sold at The Shop at Bluebird. Autumn/winter 13 proper is a monochromatic celebration of clean lines in a season friendly palette of a myriad of grey and charcoal alongside flashes of indigo and deep burgundy. Stroking the cloth, Hudson's excitement bubbles over. "I did PV for the first time in September and I was just like a kid in a sweet shop. It was three days in heaven." Fabrics for the season include luxurious wool and cashmere blends, Italian yarn, butter-soft English suede, Japanese gauze wool and Kuroki denim. "We've really pushed ourselves sourcing fabrics to help find a real point of difference whilst always coming back to this idea of progressive, clean layers. At times we've used three or four different fabrics used in an outfit but it doesn't look forced. It all has to make sense and have a reason for being." Each offers a unique handle and effortlessly promotes a sense of cool comfort, designed to be layered and mis-matched to achieve a dynamic, quietly textured look. Allow the Jake Green shot look book to illustrate this point and reach out to cop a feel of the tactile treats with my own detail shots.
Look book shots by Jake Green. Detail shots by us.
Given that autumn/winter 13 marks a new dawn for the label, I ask George Hudson how the Dodd man has evolved. "He is becoming less influenced by what others are doing. My perception of the industry has changed through experience and spending some time in different parts of the world. I've had to stop trying so hard to fit in to this community of British designers and concentrate on myself. So, I just sketched some things and we began moving forward." There's a growing confidence. A momentum. A desire. Hudson's unquenchable thirst to learn, to experiment and to continue to push is beginning to bear delicious sartorial fruits. "The focus now is on autumn/winter 14 and beginning the season with London." I can't wait to see this label continue to grow as it travels down its own path.