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Just over sixty years ago, Woodfall Films was shining light on working-class culture. Blue-collar occupations were celebrated in British films like The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner and A Taste of Honey. This inclusive focus in cinema impacted Jenny Mannerheim and Ilan Delouis, co-founders of unisex label Each x Other.
The duo was, at the same itme, inspired by the work of Scottish poet and artist Robert Montgomery, including Safe And Warm Here / In The Fire Of Each Other, from which the label’s name derived from.
Today, the brand is celebrating a new extension of these inclusive voices, presenting a collection of tee-shirts with prose from Montgomery atop stills from Woodfall Films .
Whitewall caught up with Mannerheim and Steven Hess, curator of the Woodfall Films archive, to learn more about the new collection and about telling a culturally honest story of the times.
WHITEWALL: Jenny, tell us a bit about Each x Other’s collaboration with Woodfall Films and Robert Montgomery.
JENNY MANNERHEIM: The concept of Each Other is to honor the culture of fashion and art, and we wanted to fuse those two disciplines together to create something that is at the crossroad where the two intercept. We’ve always been driven by the belief that artistic expression can change the society around us, and we hope with our collections and collaborations we truly do make change.
John-Paul Pryor came up with the idea to collaborate and pay tribute to the attitude of Woodfall’s films by integrating classic quotes from the films on t-shirts at the occasion of the upcoming retrospective book of Woodfall films, and in line with the re-mastering and re-release of all of the Woodfall films through the BFI. Woodfall Films in the 60s, produced films such as Look Back In Anger, The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner, A Taste of Honey, Saturday Night And Sunday Morning… Pretty much every film that changed the face of British cinema, and gave a voice to the working class.
There is a strong consistent theme across all collaborators in this project. Each collaborator often looks for the unseen, the hidden, the ignored and pores life in these often-forgotten stories. Celebrating the unseen unites these collaborators.
WW: John-Paul, you said, “As a product of the working-class background, I can safely say that my own perspective on the machinations of the class system was utterly transformed by the anti-hero classic The Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner—the first film that I felt really spoke to me.” How is this type of history pertinent today, with our position of culture and establishment?
JOHN-PAUL PRYOR: Steven and I have spoken at great length now about how the issues these films brought to the fore front have as much cultural resonance now as they did when they were made, given the class dissonance, division and post-nuclear existential angst of modern society—everything changes and nothing changes, you might say.
As such, idea with this capsule collaboration with Each Other is to create items that feel very much in the now, rather than retrospective/fandom in any sense…
In this regard I have chosen text that is in no way antiquated, as some of the longer quotes from these films are immediately quite “of their time,” with terms like “shoddy” appearing. The edits I have chosen for the t-shirts, I hope, achieve a timelessness that means a kid walking down the street in will relate.
WW: Jenny, why did you especially want to work with these two creatives?
JM: When John-Paul Pryor and Steven Hess from Woodfall Films suggested we collaborate I immediately reached out to Robert Montgomery as I expected him to be excited about the project. Kes and The Loneliness of the Longdistance Runner happened to be two of Robert’s favorite films in the world.
WW: Your brand was inspired by a poem by Robert Montgomery. What about this spoke to you?
JM: Our interpretation of the poem is that it is full of contrast; it is intimate and deeply emotional, but it also has a universal message, and the text is an intention of collective well-being. The words are forming an image that is both nostalgic and forward-thinking, it’s traditional and modern, a reflection of friendship and unity. We have often used the poem in print or patched on most of our clothes like a hymn or a prayer.
WW: What type of story do you feel your brand is telling?
JM: Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand out.
WW: Steven, tell us a bit about Woodfall Films and its impact. What do you think this new collection celebrates from that?
STEVEN HESS: Woodfall has a pioneering spirit. It led the way for British cinema, firmly establishing its legendary reputation. Finding new ways of shining light into its treasure trove of cultural beginnings is exciting, but also a responsibility.
These genre-defining images sit with iconic quotes. They tell it like it is, celebrating confidence and honesty.
WW: The age in which these films were produced was a transformative time. What type of time do you feel we are living in today?
SH: We live in hugely uncertain and often uncomfortable time. There is veneer of wellness, of comfort, of stability but this belies the truth. Times are turbulent. Rocky. There is huge disparity. We are going through massive changes. I’m not sure that the swinging sixties are around the corner. These films are real, humble human stories. They celebrate real life.
WW: Why are those films relevant, or particularly inspiring, to you now?
SH: They shine light on the unseen, the hidden cracks in our Instagram veneer. They are real, honest and confident. We could all do with a bit of confidence today.