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Behind The Design: The Effortlessly Cool ABC123me. London

January 02, 2016

Behind The Design: The Effortlessly Cool ABC123me. London

We fell in love with abc123me since we first laid eyes on their pure California sunshine lookbook.

Rocket Shop spoke with Louisa, the creative director of abc123me, to find out everything about a boy's clothing brand like no other and her approach to life and work as a working mum today.

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"I live in Earls Court in London and when I can, in a little village by the sea near Bordeaux. I love Earls Court for its urban dirtiness, the diversity of its inhabitants and the practicality of a high street that’s part gentrified and part dirty gambling shops. I love Cap Ferret for everything, the wildness of the Atlantic coastline mashed up with the beauty of the pine forests is hard to beat.

I worked as a television producer and casting director before I had the twins. After the twins were born, my husband (who is a cameraman) and I looked at the way we were living, our hours and the way in which this would affect raising a family and we decided something had to give… so we stepped back and I changed direction. My family has always had a strong interest in menswear and with my sister running the tailors Anderson and Sheppard it didn’t feel like too far a leap to start up on my own."

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"I launched my own business in 2014 initially out of necessity and then because it really interested me. There are lots of incredible brands out there that cater to the younger boys’ market with super cute monsters or minimalist high design concept imagery or graphics but I found that once boys are 6 years or older the choice is far more limited. I hope that ABC123me is helping change that. "

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"Fuss free, clean line, considered unisex clothing in beautiful colours."

We’re all about plain clothes in fabrics that have been thought through – denim in the perfect wash, the softest corduroy pre-treated for the right worn in vintage feel, fleeces and shearlings but not as you know them and good old fashioned high quality cottons that don’t bobble.

Kids getting out and about and being passionate about life and sports is also a big part of ABC123me and is one of the reasons we choose to work with athletes rather than models in our campaigns. This year we’re working with surfers, motocross lovers and baseball players with a couple more surprises still in the works. The kids we work with are easily one of my favourite parts of this job - they are all effortlessly cool, so when they all put in clothes requests for our stuff at the end of the shoot… I know I’m doing my job right."

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"The most important thing for us is to make clothes that kids want to wear."

"Whether it’s the graphic on the front of a t-shirt, the softness of the cotton, the feel of a classic cord suit revisited or the irresistible lure of our new camo hoodie and trackpant, we want to make things that kids identify with and like. My son went full camo to school earlier this week and was stopped in the school canteen by an older kid who wanted to know where he could buy the same top and bottom. It literally made my son’s life and then of course mine by proxy."

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"I’m not sure how to best balance being a working mum. I only know that for us the weekends are about doing very little but about doing it together and that that time is the most important to us. We get up, make pancakes together, play with the Playmobil, make lunch, draw, read and quite often don’t get dressed all day. When we’re in France we often go to the beach and collect the rubbish washed up by the Atlantic sea, then we take it home and make things or stories out of the things we’ve collected.. I am lucky enough to be able to spend most school holidays with Hardy and Elodie but when we have so little time together during the school term, our weekends are about quietness and family time. That’s how we balance things, I’m sure others do it differently but this just works for us.

The most important thing for me is that Elodie and Hardy are happy, that we laugh a lot together, that they know that they are loved very much. It’s also important for us as parents that they stay children for as long as they can be children. They have a lifetime to be big.

We are also slightly backwards about coming forwards where technology is concerned... although they do watch a bit of television every day, I’m just not ready for them to have Ipads, DS’, play video games etc.. a few years ago I caved in to some inner pressure and bought toy computers with educational games on them and everything changed. It suddenly all became about the computers.. no one wanted to play, to draw, to read, to talk… so I hid them and life went back to normal. It felt good and after they asked about them twice, they never asked again.

Finally, manners, respect and gratitude are non negotiable. Hardy and Elodie are very lovely children and I rarely have to shout (which is great as I hate it) but if you do hear me shouting it will be over one of these three things.."

A Day In Your Shoes
"I wake at 7am and eat breakfast with Elodie and Hardy before they walk to school. Breakfast will normally be something involving almond milk.

After breakfast and over-handling the children before they leave, I settle down to work from the kitchen table. A typical day will run from 9-5 or later if I’m Skyping with our factories in India or Portugal as this often tends to be at the end of the day.

Most days right now involve a bit of everything which I love as it suits the ordered chaos of my mind: Today for example, I’m in the process of receiving our new collection, finalising the new prototypes for 2016, planning and designing our stands for the tradeshows we’re attending in January in New York, Tokyo, London, Florence and Paris as well as shipping out orders and liaising with our stockists to run through delivery dates for the current collection.

I speak to my sister Anda and her boyfriend Jerome to talk through the details for our stand at Playtime Paris as they are going to be helping me pull the stand together and I trust their taste 100%. We’re recreating a boy’s bedroom for the stand, with posters, desks, lamps etc and they’re helping me source the various pieces we need through their contacts in Paris.

I talk to my co-designer and friend India who’s in Omaha with her in-laws for Thanksgiving and discuss the changes we’ve made to some of the new samples for our forthcoming babywear collection. We then go through and agree the colours we’ve chosen for ABC123mini. We’re both really excited about our expansion into babywear and are as obsessive as each other when it comes to the perfect colour, quality and the way in which the babywear will be packaged.

I try to persuade her little boy Huck to talk to me on the phone but yet again he point blank refuses. He’s 15 months right now and the treat’em mean keep’em keen phase is in full effect right now. So far it’s working out really well for him, even if it’s a lose lose situation for me.

Lunch, is some kind of salad.. but a killer one. I’m a good cook but I can safely say my salad dressing is the bomb. Today’s salad was a black bean, mango, chili and rocket mess which is a throwback to my crazy love of Mexican food and black beans.

After lunch I chase up the delivery of our collection from India, and momentarily wonder whether the logistics of carrying 25 substantial boxes up 5 sets of stairs this afternoon will put me in hospital. After a lot of begging, I’m pretty good at begging, my husband and I walk to the stockroom and suck it up.

Once the boxes are up and in, I quality control check each garment individually to make sure that everything is in order, that nothing is missed and that each bag contains one of our limited edition iron on Danger patches. All is good.

From 5 I’m with my kids who tend to be either very bouncy or very worn out depending on the day of the week and what they’ve been doing at school. After homework, my little girl normally has 20 million questions that need answering urgently while my little boy goes up and down our corridor on one of our skateboards… of which we have way way way too many.

Bedtimes tend to go the same way , after dinner and a bath, we watch a dvd, which are mostly, short, in French and retro throwbacks to simpler more innocent days. At the moment we’re just finishing Fraggle Rock an obscure 80s series by Jim Henson with Belle and Sebastian next on our list.

After a dvd, I’ll read a chapter of whatever book I’m reading with Hardy and then a chapter of whatever book I’ve been reading with Elodie in their rooms. I’ve been reading to them since they were born and it’s one of the few things that never changes in our day no matter where we are, how late it has got or what they’re doing. They’ll then read another 20-30 minutes or so alone.

Once the kids are in bed I’ll cook or if my husband’s working or I’ll go out and meet friends. If we’re out together we tend to eat Indian, most often at Thali on the Old Brompton road or the Bombay Brasserie.

Once in bed, I’m out the second my head hits the pillow - it’s a talent my husband has always marveled at."

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