Finisterre - Tom Kay (founder)

Cornwall based clothing brand Finisterre combines sustainable thinking and technical know-how as well as a strong sense of style in its offer of outdoor, surf and urbanwear.

Here, founder Tom Kay gives Fusion Associates his thoughts on how his brand fits into the industry.

Al Mackinnon - CWS-36 bwS.jpg

What inspired you to set up Finisterre in 2002?
 
I‘ve been around the sea from an early age and was lucky enough to have developed a love of it and a passion for surfing. I went on to study biology at university and later wondered how I could combine all my passions – the sea, surfing and the environment into a brand. Finisterre was the answer. When we started out, there weren’t really any action sports clothing brands around with an environmental agenda, and we wanted to change that. The name of the brand comes from Radio 4’s shipping forecast and we initially focused on creating functional product for cold-water surfers that were built to last.
 
Much has happened over the last few years. Are you happy with the steps taken thus far by the industry to make itself more sustainable?

The awareness among brands and consumers has improved a lot; customers are better educated and can get access to information more easily, which means they’re making more choices about how they consume. Back in the early 2000s, we were among a small cluster of brands to use recycled materials, nowadays there’s a much greater awareness of the importance of a sustainable design agenda and use of fabrics. But I’d still question the extent to which some companies do this – genuine brand belief or market opportunity? In general I’d say the thinking from brands and consumer is going in the right direction, although it is something we are always working on.

What inspired you to set up Finisterre in 2002? 

I‘ve been around the sea from an early age and was lucky enough to have developed a love of it and a passion for surfing. I went on to study biology at university and later wondered how I could combine all my passions – the sea, surfing and the environment into a brand. Finisterre was the answer. When we started out, there weren’t really any action sports clothing brands around with an environmental agenda, and we wanted to change that. The name of the brand comes from Radio 4’s shipping forecast and we initially focused on creating functional product for cold-water surfers that were built to last.
 
Much has happened over the last few years. Are you happy with the steps taken thus far by the industry to make itself more sustainable?

The awareness among brands and consumers has improved a lot; customers are better educated and can get access to information more easily, which means they’re making more choices about how they consume. Back in the early 2000s, we were among a small cluster of brands to use recycled materials, nowadays there’s a much greater awareness of the importance of a sustainable design agenda and use of fabrics. But I’d still question the extent to which some companies do this – genuine brand belief or market opportunity? In general I’d say the thinking from brands and consumer is going in the right direction, although it is something we are always working on.

You encourage customers to make-do-and-mend and offer a repair service. How does it work and do customers take advantage of the service?

They definitely do! Many have an emotional attachment to their garments and we invite them to send us their pieces for a ‘day Spa’ with our in-house seamstress who can breathe life into old favourites. She can repair anything and often adds a twist to repair with bespoke patches. Our repairs start at £12.50 and something we’re really proud to be able to offer.
 
You have four UK shops. Any more store openings in the pipeline?

Our first London store opened on Earlham Street in London’s Covent Garden about a year ago, adding to our existing three UK stores. We hope to open new stores in other key UK locations, possibly venturing overseas in the future, too.

Image Credits: James Bowden (collection shots) / Al Mackinnon (Tom's portrait)

 
Sport, FashionAlex Pescott