Blue Flowers – Interview with Mark Kendrick

Connoisseurs of corduroy clothing, lend us your ears for five minutes. We’ve been speaking to the owner of one of Manchester’s principal protagonists and proponents of said fabric.

Heard of Piilgrim? Forget them. They’re called Blue Flowers now and it’s important you don’t forget to remember this fact. Everything remains the same apart from the name, but this touchpoint in their evolution felt like a good time to nail an interview.

Read on to get the inside track on Sleaford Mods, Skateboarding and Stockport.

So, first things first, what’s with the name change?

The brand has grown so much in the last 5 years. We’ve always stuck to our beliefs and guided it where we wanted to take it. The unusual spelling of Piilgrim at first felt right, but now as things have evolved, we feel it doesn’t represent our vision as much as it did initially. Blue Flowers represents our core ethics and vision for the future. 

You enlisted Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods to share the news, a masterstroke. How did you get him onboard?

We’ve become good friends with Jason after working on the Piilgrim x Sleaford Mods collab jacket. He’s always had our back and loves what we do, same way we feel about his music, so it felt right for him to make the announcement.

Tell us more about the story so far, both as Piilgrim and now under the Blue Flowers name.

Piilgrim was started because we felt there was a need for clothing inspired from the past and nostalgia, we wanted to bring that forward to today. This will always be at the forefront of our design process. A big element is to minimise the effect on the planet through the use of organic fabrics and the production process. Blue Flowers is a continuation of this, but we are taking it to a higher level, by sponsoring and working with cotton farmers and doing whatever we can do to have a positive effect on the production process from the start to the end.

There are a few other brands I’ve noticed of late changing their name. Does it concern you that people might take a while to get the message?

The brand has such strong ethics and our vision itself hasn’t changed, so it doesn’t worry us at all. Blue Flowers has exactly the same nod to the past as Piilgrim did. That’s what we love and feel passionate about. We couldn’t design clothes that we weren’t 100% into and want to continue to design clothes would want to wear everyday.

Who are the people behind Blue Flowers? It’s a small team isn’t it?

Very small team! A team of two. Myself (Kendrick) and Bec. We have guest artists designing tees for us, but the general day to day running of everything is just us.

Blue Flowers is rooted (get it?) in Manchester but if I remember rightly you’re from down the road in Stockport. Is that where you’re originally from?

We just had an office there for a year. Originally from Stoke-On-Trent but I’ve lived in lots of places; Ipswich, The Midlands, London, Melbourne. I first moved to Manchester when I was 21 and fell in love with it straight away. Manchester, as a place, embraces everyone to call it home here. It’s always been the most inspiring place to be, what with its history and what is happening here right now. The city’s textile industry has helped shape the brand into what it is today, mainly as it’s the place where corduroy was first associated with. I’m very thankful for that and wouldn’t want to be based anywhere else.

There’s a lot going on in retail in the UK right now. It’s like Game of Thrones. What do you reckon the next couple of years will show us?

I think it’s more apparent than ever that the big wigs don’t have anyone’s back other than their own. I’d like to see the independents working together wherever possible. I know that’s a big ask, but it’s needed. “Revolution not evolution”- A.P

You’ve got a nice community supporting what you do. I always see your gear, especially on lads I know round here who skate. How important is that real world community for Blue Flowers? 

Our brand would be nothing without the local scene supporting us. It’s everything. Whatever we do or wherever we go with the brand the community will always be at its core. I always get feedback speaking to people who champion Piilgrim/Blue Flowers and ask what they would like to see in our next collection, many design ideas come from conversations like that. 

Going back to Jason, you did a jacket with him didn’t you?

Yes we did. It couldn’t have gone any better, such a positive response from everyone. Jason sent me an old CP jacket that meant a lot to him as he used to wear in the 80’s when he was starting to write music. It was completely shredded so I took what measurements I could from it and we used that as the basic shape. We then added in some extra details and it’s been by far our most popular jacket.

Collaborations seem to be a necessary weapon in the armoury of any brand now, rather than the fad they looked like a few years back. What’s your take?

A collab has to be with a like-minded brand or individual. We’ve always been quite picky about who we work with as their vision has to be the same as ours. I feel for some brands that isn’t as important as long as it brings the money in which is a shame.

What’s the end game for Blue Flowers? Do you have plans for world domination and loads of cash or are your horizons more holistic?

We want to keep growing and push the brand further, but never to the detriment of the values and sustainability that’s so important to us. With the name change everything now feels exciting and fresh again, so I’m very optimistic for this new chapter. Our community has embraced the change which means the world to us.

Onwards and upwards, with some exciting happenings on the horizon. 

Check out Blue Flowers here

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Mark Smith

I had pizza for tea.

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