Q+A: Fanmail's Charlie Morris on Sustainability, Music and SS16

July 14, 2015 BY STEVE DOOL


In just a few seasons, Fanmail has emerged as a favorite at Capsule. The brainchild of Brooklyn-based designer Charlie Morris, Fanmail has seen its fanbase grow as rapidly as its stockist list, which now includes the types of tastemaker-y boutiques indie labels dream of: think Assembly, Mr. Porter, Opening Ceremony and LN-CC to name only a few. With a mind toward sustainability and transparency, Fanmail is a label even the most conscious consumer can get behind.

In advance of Capsule New York, where attendees will find Fanmail’s SS16 collection on display, we caught up with Charlie to talk what’s new, what’s inspiring and, naturally, if he’s gotten any good fan mail himself lately.

WATM: First off, what’s new for Fanmail for SS16?

Charlie: Our shirt jacket, which for fall is in a twill or velvet, this season is in a linen that can be either a layering piece or a shirt on its own. We took fall’s cuff tee, lined originally in the sleeve with a contrast flannel, and switched it for a crisp poplin that we’ve also used for our short sleeve button down. There’s a new oversized, long-sleeve t-shirt in double-faced jersey with flat locked seams, perfect for a cool night in summertime.

And in what has become a sort of signature, we’ve reversed fabrics, like a short with a side panel showing the wrong side of the denim or fleece. Our gusset pant also shows the wrong face of the fabric, a seeded natural twill shows tiny flecks from the cotton boll.

WATM: I know from speaking with you before that the name Fanmail was originally inspired by the TLC album you listened to when you were creating the concept for the brand. What were you listening to this time around while you were working on SS16?

Charlie: I’ve been on a Roisin Murphy / Moloko bender, so her newest album, Hairless Toys, has been on repeat for a while. I have a thing for repetitive music, so Ron Hardy’s Music Box house remixes get a lot of play, as well as serial compositions like John Adams’, “China Gates.” And possibly the most-played single on my iTunes right now is Rufus ft. Chaka Khan, “You Got the Love.”


WATM: How did you select the color palette for the season?

Charlie: There’s a part of me that is always surprised that Fanmail is known for color, because I find it to be one of the more difficult parts of developing a collection. In addition to any fabrics in off-the-shelf colors, I start with about a dozen Pantone Lab dips, only to discard about half or two thirds of them. Some of it is a matter of misguided taste or changing my mind about how everything comes together. But, there’s also the reality of how natural fibers, especially less processed cotton and hemp, will take the dyes.

This season I tried to select colors with this in mind – murky, silvery purples and blues, rust, sand, and anthracite. Not to get overly poetic, but I associate them with the kind of summer day that radiates heat: asphalt on a road, a horizon or a beach; colors of a sunset or an old car.


WATM: Let’s talk sustainability, which is a pillar of the brand. Are there any unique challenges to creating a spring/summer collection sustainably that differ from a fall collection?

Charlie: Spring/summer tends to be easier, actually, because we’re all wearing less anyway. The season requires a bit less structure, so I don’t need to worry about linings or fusibles or insulating layers. Last fall it was warm in New York all the way into October, so I’m trying to ensure that Fanmail is a little less season-dependent.

WATM: Has Fanmail gotten any good fan mail recently?

Charlie: We have some of the most devoted customers, so a lot of our fan mail is comprised of emails asking about restocking. We’re trying to keep up!