Although food and fashion aren’t often mentioned in the same breath, they have synergies which it’s time to explore – seasonality, trends and self-expression. Those at the forefront of the culinary arts are embracing how food relates to other creative disciplines, and London-based chef Johnnie Collins embodies this better than most.
In 2014, Johnnie helped to launch The Store Kitchen in Berlin and is currently working on the new project with the team behind The Vinyl Factory at 180 The Strand. Here they are setting up a creative hub of art, film, fashion and food with studios and exhibitions and housing creative powerhouses such as Dazed, IMG and also London Fashion Week.
We spoke with Johnnie in The Store, London.
Johnnie models for street-style photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce A.K.A. Garcon Jon wearing SS18 menswear.
Tell us about out your early experiences with food
My love of food comes from my upbringing in a little village north of Oxford. My mum is a garden designer and my dad sells wine. We always had home-cooked meals and friends often dropped in for lunch and dinner – it was quite an open house.
When I was about 11 years old my older brother and I started to make our own lunches. Competitive sandwich competitions ensued and from then on I was always keen to be involved in the cooking.
How did you come to work with The Store?
I’m not a formally trained chef, I spent 10 years working in business but my love of food led me to pop-ups and supper clubs. Eventually, I quit my job to do my own thing and that’s when I ran into Alex Eagle, the Creative Director of The Store project.
Alex was setting up The Store and she liked what I was cooking. I didn’t want to set up just another restaurant, but a more open and creative space which was aligned with what The Store already stood for.
How do you see fashion and food working together?
Our starting point is the time of year, which fits well with fashion when we’re working with clients. Right now there is a lot of emphasis on how things are made and where ingredients come from and this applies to both the food and fashion industries.
The new collection embodies the warmth and je ne sais quoi of creative spaces, taking cues from French dressing in the 1960s. These are clothes to live, work, and create in.
Most of us have a stereotypical idea of what a chef wears. Has this changed?
I think the image of chefs has changed a lot, it was very male dominated and less diverse with less tattoos, beards and piercings but now anyone can be a chef. If you’re passionate about cooking and food, you can give it a go. To be honest I see myself as more of a cook than a chef.
I spent three years living in Berlin which has had quite a heavy influence on what I wear now. I like clothes that are well-made and fit nicely.
I’ve usually got my trousers rolled up and I like to wear nice socks so that I can be out in front talking to people about what they’re eating rather than stuck down in the kitchen.
What’s next for The Store Kitchen?
The Strand space is a huge project, which we are a small part of. But as more and more creative companies move in and the 180 family grows we’re looking to try and leverage that community and become more of a broadcaster.
We’re setting up a Store Kitchen Studio where we will facilitate young talent. We want to transcend the creative industries and get artists, designers and musicians cooking on camera.
Everyone loves cooking and it’s not just for chefs. Food is indicative of our vision, but is just one part of a wider creative world.