“Clothing is our second skin. The clothes we wear are heavily influenced by our mood and emotions. I believe it can be empowering, it gives you the confidence to do beautiful things.”
Tanmay grew up in India, where he studied computers and completed a masters degree in finance. It was not until later on in his career that he moved into clothing design. “When I was growing up, it was very hard for me to channel my creativity as nobody in my family thought I was creative. At the beginning of my career I took a very conventional path, however this gave me the opportunity to work in the UK. I had never been out of India until I was 25; it put me in a completely new space and dimension.
When Tanmay moved to London, he started working as a business analyst in the city; it was during this time that he became interested in collecting and trading vintage curiosities at flea markets on the weekends. He taught himself how to make clothes by reading books and watching videos on the basics of tailoring and fabric design. In 2014, he decided to make himself an overshirt to sell in a vintage market. It was sold immediately; the buyer came back the following Sunday asking for another shirt. “I was too shy to ask for money for it, I think I sold it for 35 pounds. However, it made me realise that there was an interest in hand-made garments that are plain and simple with no label plastered on the chest. If someone is paying for a beautiful piece of clothing, they are not your walking, talking advertising board. It is all about the wearer.”
Tanmay launched the hand-made clothing label, LaneFortyfive in 2016. “I knew I was a complete outsider; I had no background in fashion or tailoring, however I was far away from the social pressures of India that I had grown up with. My gut feeling was that I should pursue this ambition even if I failed.”
From the start, Tanmay knew he wanted to design unisex clothes, that removed the typical gender stereotypes associated with fashion. “We are still far away from gender equality in society. Making unisex clothing felt very important to me, it is a very small step but an important one to bring to the conversation.”
Lane Fortyfive has a very clear ethos; each garment is made to order, using natural fibres and zero waste. “With every 100 pounds we make on a garment, we plant two trees in order to give back all the C02 emission we use when we are making, packaging and transporting our clothes. Back in 2016, sustainability in fashion was still very new; I think now it has become a key word that brands use to sell clothes rather than making it part of their everyday process. Still a lot of people within the fashion industry don’t know that to make a simple organic cotton t-shirt you need about 10,000 litres of water to grow that much cotton.”
Tanmay explains that with bespoke clothing, you value the finished garment because you are part of the creative process. You are working with the tailor from the beginning, choosing the fabric and having the size altered to fit your needs. “We will reduce waste consumption considerably if we buy less and instead think about clothing that is designed to last longer.”
Last year, Tanmay was in India shooting his collection ‘procrastinate, we’ when lockdown hit. After a difficult time of isolation, he struggled to find inspiration and to be creative. The concept of the new collection ‘Come Again’ was the idea of returning to his artistry. His designs have a simple, structural elegance; dark olive wool jackets, burnt orange tweed and pleated wool trousers. Recent photographs, captured by Tanmay, show flat marshlands and heavy skies that are pierced with large brutalist batteries made during WW2. “The leaning concrete structures are under the sea for most of the day, lost beneath the surface, but they come out again for us to see early in the morning. I wanted to shoot here because this image reflects my story behind the collection.”
Tanmay has started a new collaborative project with the UK design brand Studio Kettle to create a hatwear collection, ‘Enter Hoodlums.’ Back in 2019, Studio Kettle was created by designers Alexander Jones and Lauren Wilson in Hull. They hold a very similar philosophy to LaneFortyfive by thinking about the historical narrative of the garment, the process of craft and our relationship to what we consume. “I wanted to collaborate with Studio Kettle, because their work is more than just the product, there is a personal, thoughtful touch to their handmade designs. I personally only started wearing hatwear in the last couple of years, so it was only a matter of time before I wanted LaneFortyfive’s own hat designs. As a starting point, the hats are inspired by the headwear donned by British sea folk and traditional fishing folk.” His plan is to shoot the new collection once we come out of lockdown, so keep your eyes peeled. Tanmay’s vision is constantly moving into new realms but he always holds at the core, a clear ethical ethos and a strong moral compass about clothing design.
All images captured by Tanmay Saxena