Meet Finney, The ‘Proper Clothes For Grownups’ Brand You Need To Know
With two decades of experience building brands that are household names, thank God Phillip Bodenham finally put his designer cap on and blessed us with a brand that our closets have been calling out for. The LA-based Brit has a no-nonsense approach and impeccable taste, having worked in-house with the likes of Saint Laurent and Versace and acted as a consultant for Chalayan, AJE, Rejina Pyo, and more. As such, his new baby, Finney, is the perfect marriage of luxury and timelessness while still being trendy, with covetable and comfortable pieces made to enjoy life in. Now, let’s get to the story of how the perfect silk boxers came to be a reality…hint: Tom Ford might just have been a mentor somewhere along the way.
Congrats on the launch of Finney! How long has the brand been in the works for?
Years in my head but in reality, I’d been working on it for about two years ahead of launching at the end of March.
You’ve been in fashion yourself for 20 years. Did you always think you’d launch a brand or was it due to a gap in the market you identified?
I never thought I’d do my own thing. I began to feel just so sick of sportswear, hoodies, and the casual ’90s look. Friends and I would talk about all the great ‘proper clothes’ we used to buy—proper clothes for grownups! So I decided to create hero pieces: the perfect silk shirt, trouser, and boxer, and that’s where the concept grew. For Fall, I’m adding the perfect cashmere roll necks, sweaters, and bra vests. They’re lovely.
What does the name refer to?
It’s kind of my muse; a mélange of a few guys and girls I know, and the thing that unites them is that they dress like grownups, please themselves, like beautiful quality things, and dance to the beat of their own drum. That’s my tribe. The Huckleberry Finn character sums that up for me, so I’ve always loved the name Finn….so if something chimes, it’s quite ‘Finney’ to me!
Love it! What was on the mood board?
I want to create standalone hero product, no filler nonsense. And I hate plastic; the micro plastics issue is a scourge and a timebomb that I want no part of, so I hate manmade fibers, which are essentially plastic. Not only is it terrible on your skin, but also every time you wash polyester or anything manmade it sheds. Apparently now it’s being found in our blood. We are effectively plasticizing our world—it’s gross. So we are founded on not wearing anything non-natural. The collection starts with silks, for Fall cashmere gets added, and then in Spring ’23, organic cottons and Belgian linens will come. On the mood board, to sum it up, was color. I think we could all do with more of it in our lives and wardrobes, don’t you?!
Who do you think the Finney customer is?
Really anyone that appreciates beautiful things that are well made and will last. Enjoy it and wear it to death, don’t save it for ‘best.’ It’s been made so you can do that, and buy less and buy better. Through the pandemic, I threw out anything that wasn’t good quality designer and decided to just buy a few key pieces a year from designers I love. I think a lot of people feel like this. So the collection is built around [the concept of] ‘the perfect…’ My shirt is going to look equally good in Mykonos this summer as it will with a tux jacket at a cocktail bar in Manhattan or LA. I want to create pieces that work on vacation but back home too, a new modern resort style if you will.
Can you tell us a bit about your career backstory? What made you initially want to move to the US?
I had a lot of friends in the US that I would visit and well I fell in love with LA. The weather is insane, the people are chill and friendly, I like the energy of the city—the gloss with the seedy underbelly, the creativity going on here, the underground! I was consulting for various brands for 13 years after working in house at brands like Versace and Saint Laurent, and I had a visa, so decided to stop going back and forth and make LA home. At least for now!
How did working with contemporary and luxury brands build a foundation for one day launching your own thing?
Tom Ford (I worked for his YSL) taught me attention to detail and that quality matters. That was extremely formative for me. Quality is the best business strategy. I hate half-assing anything. Working with all the brands I have over the years, I would often turn their garments inside out, look at the fabrications, and realize they were churning out not very quality things and it’s something I won’t ever do. I want to stay as a small brand in the right stockists that sell beautiful, well-made things that grow instead of putting out poor quality product.
Apart from Tom Ford, what were some important lessons you learned from people that have proved instrumental?
One of my clients told me recently not to do wholesale; to only do e-commerce and [my] own stores. I listened to his advice, and we only work with the very top select stores in the US, like Maxfield, A’Marees, and Ron Herman for example. We only want a select few top stores here in the US, and we plan to open our own maisons in LA, Miami, and NYC. We are currently working on opening LA, so hopefully by the end of 2022 or early next year!
Exciting! What does the remainder of 2022 look like for Finney? What are the most important first moves for the brand?
We just launched the brand with five important US retailers last month, who’ve already sold half of what they initially ordered in two weeks and have reordered, which is so nice. We will be presenting the Resort women’s collection on June 2 in LA with a presentation to key stylists and tastemakers. After that, we are focusing on the first store for the brand with our LA Maison.
Which pieces are already proving most popular?
We were very lucky that our first girl to wear Finney was Kristen Stewart and the first guy was Andrew Garfield, so the response has been quite quick and [the brand has been] picked up across the press. The retailers tell me there’s not one piece that isn’t selling—some people love the Hawaiian and chrysanthemum prints, some people like the tonal khakis and caramels.
What’s your biggest dream for the future of Finney?
To keep it small and fun, I don’t want a huge brand. To work with the top 10 retailers in the US, plus have my three stores in LA, Miami, and NYC. I also have some artist collaboration ideas and my passion is collecting photography, so I’d like the brand to support young talent in that area at some point.