Studio Lowrie team up with menswear brand Personal Effects on their first collaborative t-shirt
Personal Effects is a London-based contemporary menswear brand that doesn’t believe ‘essentials’ is a reductive term. Taking inspiration from a US army issue bag that recruits used to keep all of their civilian belongings in – referred to as their ‘Personal Effects’ bag – founder James Machin created the brand with a clear approach; beautifully crafted essential garments with longevity at heart. Manufacturing all of their clothing in London, with environmentally-focused suppliers, the brand’s aim is “to create small limited edition runs of beautifully made garments,” Machin tells us. “Most of our favourite clothes are damaged and repaired due to years of wear and tear but we could never throw them away because they’ve become part of our identity, Personal Effects is to recreate that feeling.”
Stemming from a collaboration-focused philosophy, Machin approached friend and founder of London-based Studio Lowrie, Mike White, to work on a project together. For Machin, this felt like the right time – noting that “Mike, Harry and the team have been producing some amazing work recently.”
The exclusive t-shirt features a poem by Harold Bennett, written as an expression of the collaborative spirit that sits at the heart of the project. This came about as a result of many previous discussions. “We often chatted about how wonderful it is to work together,” Bennett reveals, “and that sort of poetically spiralled.” Soon, the collective would be talking about the innate and beautifully multi-faceted nature of working with others. “The poem discusses that,” he adds, as well as the effects of simply being with others. “Simply, it’s a celebration of people and the love, kindness and support that comes from alongside one another.”
Typeset in ABC Dinamo’s Walter Neue and overlaid with the poem in Bennett’s own handwriting, the poetry features on the back, front and sleeves in a black screen print. “Beyond a general love for Dinamo,” Bennett tells us, explaining the typeface choice, “Walter Neue couldn’t have been more conceptually or aesthetically spot on.”
“First of all,” he continues, “the typeface is a collaboration between Dinamo and Renens-based design studio Omnigroup – so there is our first collaborative notion. Secondly, the typeface’s design is inspired by the typography of a tool created by 20th Century creative Walter Käch, who made a block-like children’s game that helped kids learn to draw letterforms.” As this was designed to be played with others, therefore learning with other people, the choice felt perfect.
With a relatively high contrast and human, organic letterforms, the typeface’s design is “always purposefully imperfect,” he tells us, “it gave us the right amount of clunk, character and structure, fundamentally embodying the playfulness, intelligence and imperfection of us all! It really is a beautiful typeface.” The choice to screenprint the text in black – leading to a striking black and white contrast – can be tied to the medium of poetry itself. In the absence of colour, there is more left open to creative interpretation. “The fundamental nature of poetry is that it provides a space for people to interpret their own meaning,” Bennett adds, “and I think (when it comes to colour) a monochromatic palette does the same,” he concludes.