LONDON — Inspired by the style and derring-do of his sporty forefathers, London talent manager and public relations man Charles Finch has launched a clothing brand aimed at men and women with adventure in their soul.
This story first appeared in the February 18, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
On Tuesday night, Finch cut the ribbon on Chucs Dive & Mountain Shop, a boutique housed in a former art gallery in Mayfair that sells products ranging from safari shirts and jackets to cashmere knitwear and swimsuits.
Guests including Emma Thompson and Greg Wise, David Walliams, Bob Geldof and Evgeny Lebedev crammed into the bijou space to browse the Panama hats, woolen beanies, and swimming trunks as Finch manned the register. “He’s done a very raw, earthy line of clothes that feel like what they’d have worn in Jamaica before the hotels were built,” said Patrick Grant of Norton & Sons.
“Charles gave me this for Christmas — though it’s about 10 sizes too big,” said Brooke de Ocampo as she pointed to her Chucs T-shirt, jauntily worn under a sequined Chanel jacket.
Finch also plans to wholesale the line: Harrods will carry the swimsuits from March 1, and Finch plans to present the collection to press and retailers in London during the shows this weekend.
“It’s a travelers’, resort and leisurewear brand,” said Finch during an interview at the offices of Finch & Partners here. “Our vision is holistic and pure — but not grand. We think of ourselves as enthusiastic amateurs in the clothing business.”
Finch, son of the late British actor Peter Finch and the actress and writer Yolande Turner, began his career as a movie producer and later founded Finch & Partners, whose clients include actors such as Kevin Spacey, Cate Blanchett and Joely Richardson, and brands including Chanel, Vuitton, de Grisogono, Dior and Tory Burch.
The brand features products such as fitted, flat-front swimming trunks which Finch said are inspired by what his father used to wear in Jamaica in the Fifties. There are mix-and-match bikini tops and bottoms for women, some with boy shorts and others with colorful, graphic prints created by Giles Deacon.
Other products include a pair of safari shorts made from raw Japanese cotton and known as “The Blanchett,” after the actress; tailored safari shirts and jackets; cotton piqué shirts, and fine weave cashmere sweaters.
Finch said the Chucs wardrobe is meant to fit easily into a steamer trunk, and he sees his core customer as the sort of person who can “step out of the jungle, put our hopsack blazer on, and go to the ambassador’s house for a cocktail party.”
Prices range from 125 pounds, or $202 at current exchange rates, for a pair of swim trunks or a safari shirt with patch pockets, to 380 pounds, or $615, for a lightweight cashmere sweater.
Chucs was Finch’s nickname as a child — “It was my old Hollywood name,” he said — and the brand was inspired in part by his ancestor George Ingle-Finch, who climbed Mount Everest in 1922 with the English mountaineer George Mallory. Finch said his great-great grandfather, a chemistry professor and a president of the Alpine Club, created the puffer jacket, and proudly pointed to a black-and-white photo of him wearing one in 1922.
Finch said he wants to take a slow and deliberate approach to the business, which is self-financed. He said he’d like to add product lines such as tennis clothing and open five stores over the next three years in places such as Miami and Palm Beach, Fla., and Los Angeles.
“For me, this is about building and sustaining a business organically, and maybe selling a minority stake in due course,” said Finch. “I want to be able to turn this business over to my daughter, and have her build it further.”