To coincide with the launch of our new collaboration with Laird Hatters, we're publishing a series of conversations with fellow hat lovers and friends of Billy Tannery. We sent each of them one of our two hat styles, either The Newsboy or The Baseball and tasked them with capturing some photos of them in action.
There are some core threads that link everyone together. A hands-on lifestyle, a passion for the outdoors and of course a love of headwear. First up was James Strawbridge and today we hear from Arran and Fern from Department Two.
For those that don't know you, can you introduce yourself and what you do?
We are Arran Cross and Fern Merrills, founders and directors of creative agency Department Two. We work on creative projects for brands across the fashion, travel and lifestyle sectors, helping them tell their story and get their brand out there.
You've visited lots of British workshops in your time. What's so special about the UK when it comes to making things?
Fern: British manufacturing has taken a hit in recent years but there are still lots of brilliant independent brands out there who manufacture in the UK. We're privileged to have visited lots of British factories and workshops over the years where we've been able to see up close the high level of craftsmanship that goes into creating all sorts of products, from luxury brass lighting and ceramics to designer clothing and even cloth itself.
No matter the product being made, what's always so wonderful and humbling to witness is the level of expertise, dedication and pride that goes into making them. British manufacturers really care about what they're making and each person on the factory floor always takes enormous pride - joy, even - in what they do. That's why British made products are so special and world leading, I think.
You like to get outside and explore, what are your tips for those who need a bit of inspiration to do the same this winter?
Arran: Just go! People get so tied up in having specialist equipment or gear and taking things to the extreme (myself included), but there's so much you can explore and see with just a decent pair of boots and a waterproof jacket (and a Billy x Laird hat of course!).
Fern: Or get a dog. Preferably a whippet. You have to get out and about if you have a canine companion and they always make things ten times more fun.
What's each of your all-time favourite hat and why? It could be one you have now or one from the past
Arran: Other than my new Billy x Laird cap I'd have to say my blue donegal fisherman beanie. I'm outside a lot so it keeps me warm while I'm working. Plus it actually fits my big head.
Fern: Most of my favourites are beanies that I've stolen from Arran over the years... But I also have fond memories of a denim bakerboy I owned when I was thirteen that I wore at a jaunty angle. Thought I was the coolest kid going.
What's next for Department Two?
Arran: At the moment we're making lemons out of the lockdown situation and spending some time focussing on the business and where we want to take things, like how we grow our in house team and how we can work more effectively on projects across the board.
Fern: Yes, it's been nice to take a break from travelling up and down the country for a bit actually and have the chance to spend time in our lovely new studio. It's on the top floor of a listed Geogian townhouse and has spectacular views over the city to the hills beyond, so it's actually quite an inspiring place to sit and work.
Billy x Laird