We had the good fortune of connecting with Cristina Rivadulla-Rey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cristina, what inspires you?
I’m most inspired by authenticity. Original, credible, unique concepts and solutions are what drive me. I like to think one of my greater strengths is problem solving; seeing a way through to developing or designing an approach or product that does the job.I’m not solely drawn to the way things are made but also their form and purpose.
I didn’t always want to be a fashion designer, i started out fascinated by furniture and thought that would be the path i explored but i found my imagination stretched further when designing a garment; i could be more abstract with concepts and yet still be as discerning when considering construction and materials.Creating a piece that serves a practical purpose and is beautiful, ethically made with precision still fills me with as much pleasure as it always has.
When developing our archive and consultancy, this approach of searching for the authenticity is what we return to, whether that’s interpreting the needs of our clients through providing curated research, concept development, brand direction or customer service.
I feel like this approach can be applied to so many things.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
18.01LONDON is a Vintage Fashion Archive and Design Consultancy. My business partner Dean Thomas and I source and house a huge collection of vintage clothing from the 1800’s to Early 2000’s but we believe our approach is different to other archives.
We curate a bespoke selection of vintage clothing for research purposes for our clients; fashion brands, designers, stylists etc based on their brief of needs for a particular season, capsule or project all through a designers eye.
After years as Design Directors within the Fashion Luxury Sector, We realised we wanted to do more of the things we love, to be more at the front end of creativity, and work more collaboratively with creatives in other fields. We realised that world is getting faster, and fashion is no exception. We spoke to so many of our friends in the industry and peers and everyone felt fatigued by the sheer pace and demand. That combined with a multitude of digital imagery available every minute of every day, our eyes had become oversaturated.When you solely rely on Pinterest and your collection is created from an algorithm, you have a problem. We believed a few fundamental things were missing… Physical garments and the space/time to be creative.
One of the things we really wanted to focus on was to create an experience and environment for designers, that alleviated some of that pressure to find inspiration; the speed at which the industry works means that development time is squeezed and finding that “magic” becomes more and more panicked.
18.01LONDON’s ethos is about building networks and communities, and sharing inspiration to produce the best of the best. It’s a place where creatives can come to be creative. We realise this sounds like a niche concept, but through our years of experience and use in our own design development of vintage archives, we knew there was already an established market…..but nobody was offering a holistic approach to inspiration!
We wanted to create a unique business model which catered for designers creative needs in a better way. What we have now is an environment that is more relaxed and hopefully really enjoyable for our clients that serves their needs.
Interestingly, for every person we have had to explain our business to, our strategy strengthened and was galvanised. We spoke to IP lawyers, accountants and other entrepreneurs. Discussing the business and allowing ourselves to be challenged was the best way to start and refine our ideas, but ultimately, we didn’t know it would work until it did!
Before we knew it we had developed a business idea that became EXACTLY the resource we were missing.
The fact we curate the space before each client appointment is key. It should ultimately be like walking into a 3d version of your brands / projects moodboard. We like to think that we work as another pair of eyes, for brands, sourcing pieces which answer briefs whether it’s a technique, silhouette, detail, texture, fabric, embellishment or print. We spend most of our time researching an travelling to source these pieces. We cover a lot more ground than any one designer could do during a regular fashion calendar!
After a couple of years of establishing the archive and feeling confident in what we were doing we set up the design consultancy arm of the business. Our plan was never to step away from our craft, we had always envisioned creating an agency of sorts, where we would work with brands to develop capsules or collections and to pull together other creatives on those projects whos skills best suited the briefs.This would all be underpinned by the use of our vintage archive as the source for the research we would be providing.
Melding our technical skills with this immersive research approach was the culmination of our first brainstorming session.This modernist approach to our work and the modernist aesthetic of our brand were crucial to our brand identity. It was always important for us that our tone of voice was not deemed ‘vintage’ as we aren’t vintage fanatics. The juxtaposition of us and the vintage clothing world is what makes us unique.
The best way to illustrate that is through our Instagram page. It depicts all the facets of our interests, from the architects and artisans we love, to designers and artists inspiring the colour palette and glimpses of vintage from within the archive.
Both the physical and digital are equally important to us. Our digital presence gives us worldwide reach, but ultimately 18.01LONDON is about a visceral experience. We have a virtual appointment service which we set up early 2020, however, most of our clients make selections when visiting the physical showroom space. For that reason the atmosphere we create is hugely important; the space itself, the vibe, the music, the furniture, the candles, it all matters to the overall experience. It’s also the studio space that we design from, so we have to love it too!
Everyday is a learning curve. Dealing with designers is easy, as we speak the same language. The bigger challenges come with the day to day running of the business, and always making sure we are sourcing the right pieces, for the right designers, at the right time. What i find exciting is that the business is ALWAYS developing and with each month we learn more, we reassess our practices and we evolve.
Early on in the development of 18.01LONDON it was important to collaborate with other creatives, and it’s paramount to our development and important to our own creative satisfaction. Through working with ceramicist, fabricators and furniture designers to create bespoke fittings for our studio, we were inspired to branch out and look at other projects we could put our spin on.
Fundamentally 18.01LONDON is more than an archive – it’s an attitude, an aesthetic, an approach to design, art and craft that extends beyond finding something cool and ripping it off.
We’ve come to realise that people will always need inspiration, but to be successful you have to be creative both about business, and about being creative. Without this mind-set, 18.01LONDON wouldn’t exist.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
ok this is my favourite thing to do! Showing people this incredible city!
We’d start in Notting Hill because i live West and i won’t entertain any discussion other than West is best.
Kuro Coffee for the perfect coffee, followed by kuro kiosk for a magazine or two. Then a walk down Portobello Road for all the pretty coloured houses, stopping at Ottolenghi for a pastry and then back through the market for a spot of shopping, though only on a Friday for the fashion market at Portobello Green. Stop by all the little stalls and shops for the experience, the characters and the finds! Keep walking up to Golbourne Road until you spot the iconic Trellick Towers and do a little vintage furniture shopping and another stop for coffee or a bite to eat. If you’re in the mood for lunch at the point, hop across the canal to Ida a small neighbourhood Italian restaurant that does the perfect negroni spagliato and plate of pasta. If you’re in the area for dinner Orasay is a must, the food is exceptional, the staff are always amazing and the vibe is the goal.
I would also take you out north east to Clissold Park, and Stoke Newington for a Saturday morning stroll followed by lunch at my favourite restaurant Westerns Laundry, seasonal, fresh, fish/seafood based and relaxed a perfect combination.
Sunday would be for South Bank, if we could see a show at the National Theatre that would be on the cards if not then an exhibition at Tate Modern, The Hayward Gallery, Somerset House all would do! Hanging out on the South bank in the summer is always a good idea.
If we had time to do Hamstead Heath that would be how i’d spend a sunny weekend morning, we’d walk to Max’s Sandwich Shop as a treat for the most insane sandwich experience.
The Royal Acadamy of arts in another great space and whilst in the centre Dover Street Market would be a great place to hang out, don’t forget to stop by Studio Nicolson before you pop to Noble Rot for a drink.
If East, Dalston is your best bet for anything genuinely good, Untitled bar for drinks, Supa Ya Ramen for food, Rio Cinema for historical cultural significance.
We’d try to see some live music, ideally at the Roundhouse or some other old school venue that isn’t too big! ultimately my advice when travelling anywhere is find a local and go wherever they go. The smaller more unexpected places are usually the best!
i didn’t mention pubs as my favourites are small and understated and i have a hard enough time getting in there sometimes but if i really am taking you out then i’ll tell you the best ones then!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
All those who i class as my “people” deserve credit and recognition for me being where i am and who i am at this point in my life. My achievements have come from a mix of both luck and misfortune. My failures have shaped me as much as my successes and a few have joined me on those journeys.
My parents for being so annoyingly similar to me, holding a mirror to me at times when i only wanted to believe my own hype! The women in my life who challenge and inspire me, these badasses forever remind me to never doubt my talent and to keep pushing forward. My partner, who is probably the most genuine person i’ve ever met, his belief in me is resolute. To get up everyday with this level of support behind you helps in those moments when either doubt creeps in or when people just want to make life difficult for you!
To the artist and designers who went before me and to my peers; i get so much energy and inspiration from all artistic forms, music, film, theatre, fine art, design, architecture it all helps to build a visual and sensory library that i recall and tap into when working on anything and everything. For this reason having control of your creative environment is essential, my playlists are legendary.
Daniel Sachon Angus Williams Clara Balzary Marius Uhlig