Earlier this year, Edie Campbell and Christabel MacGreevy of Itchy Scratchy Patchy approached us with an idea. The label, launched by the long time friends, specialises in customising found clothing with their bright and irreverent heat transfer patches. After a visit to our Long Eaton Factory in spring, a partnership was born. Locating T-Shirts from the Sunspel archive, we worked together on individually painting, printing, and stitching on our classic styles to develop a limited edition collection of playful T-Shirts across 11 special Itchy Scratchy Patchy designs.
In celebration of the new partnership, we sat down with the girls to discuss their dreams for the label, their working process and their distinctly British sense of humour.
On the origins of Itchy Scratchy Patchy
E: It kind of came about by mistake, it was a happy accident. We were talking about customisation, and that DIY ethos that we thought had disappeared a bit from both of our lives. We wanted to see clothes that had a story, and had memories and lives of their own – rather than seasonal fashion that has a 6-month lifespan and is designed to look great on a screen. Patches are a part of that idea of clothes gaining meaning over time – every patch has its own meaning and it’s own point of view. So we thought we’d make our own that were quite personal to us… and it just kind of grew from there. The name is just the result of a series of silly text conversations between Christabel and I.
On the label’s ethos
C: Itchy Scratchy Patchy came about from a desire to embellish ourselves in playful imagery, and to return to a freedom within dressing that comes from not being precious about adding or removing and changing clothes.
This project with Sunspel is a kind of manifesto, communicating what Itchy Scratchy Patchy stands for, and the ideas we had in mind when we started out. It’s about customisation, and a DIY spirit.
On their design process
E: We kind of just brainstorm ideas and think about what we might want to wear, or what we find amusing/visually interesting/ intriguing and go from there… There’s a lot of sharing images and screengrabbing things and just thinking about what we think is really interesting looking. We look at a lot of traditional embroidery too, because the textures are always so incredible.
E: Chrissy does all the drawings. I can’t draw at all. So she does the artwork, and then we look at it together and think about how it might translate into embroidery or a patch, what textures or surfaces might be good. And then we begin the process of getting things made.
E: For the first collection of patches, all we were interested in was that very British brand of tabloid culture. And all the particularly British characters that we’d come across. So it was kind of a celebration of our small island of island-people. And they became like little friends with a life entirely of their own, keeping us company. For the second collection we made, we looked a lot at very traditional decorative embroidery, all that foliage and gold braid. And used that as a starting point for something more decorative.
On their British sense of humour
C: The first collection definitely has a British sense of humour to it, as we were celebrating British stereotypes which don’t necessarily exist abroad. There is a particularly ridiculous element to the British sensibility. The first collection is a cast of characters called “Best of British’ that celebrates all the people that fashion emphatically does not celebrate, it’s about a selection of different types of people that you’ll definitely have met somewhere but that you never see in a ‘fashion’ context. I guess it’s just a really British tabloid humour.
C: We wanted to make show pieces of how the patches can be worn, and provide options of a ready patched up garment, or show possibilities of what can be done if people want to do their own customising. We decided to make a full Itchy Scratchy outfit, so we started patching up Levis jackets and jeans, and contacted Sunspel for T-Shirts. We started by going through the archives at the factory in Nottingham and selecting T-Shirts which we then printed and patched to make a really small run of one-off T-Shirts.
On choosing Sunspel
E: I’ve always loved Sunspel. I love the attention to detail, the very high level of taste, and the complete dogged Englishness about never really trying to be ‘fashion’. I think it’s a good pair because we’re not trying to make seasonal fashion, or trends. It’s just about making clothes that should last a really long time. And so it’s about clothes, not fashion. And I think that’s what we identified with. The fact that Sunspel still produce all their T-Shirts in the factory in Nottingham is so brilliant – they’re an iconic heritage label, and you can see where everything is made, it feels very real.
C: Sunspel T-Shirts are the best. The softest, the crispest, the most iconic. The Sunspel vibe is very simple and clean, so it has been fun to bring something as manic as our patches into that world and marry them together.
On the Itchy Scratchy Patchy girl or boy
C- The Itchy Scratchy girl or boy is someone who chooses to be part of a world where they decide how their clothes look, rather than being dictated by the high street or the filter down of trends from the catwalks. They have a sense of humour and enjoy dressing.
On the future of the label
Lots of new things! We are making some really great embroidered tops and T-Shirts. We also have a few other fun collaborations in the pipeline, and we are moving towards more direct embroidered pieces which involves heavy patchwork and stitch work.
Photography by Felix Cooper