If you work making clothes, then your shears / scissors may well look a bit like this pair, shot in a factory in Long Eaton last year by photographer John Spinks as part of a photographic project with clothing brand Albam…
Albam clothing is all made in the UK and the brand wanted to celebrate the factories where their garments are made, and also the people who work in them. The brand’s co-founder James Shaw met photographer John Spinks who, once on board, began to travel regularly to the various factories where Albam’s clothes are made.
Now a selection of these images have been collected into a book, entitled Factories, designed by No Days Off, who sent us a copy to have a look at. Here are some images and a bit of info about the project:
The book opens with a transcript of a conversation between Shaw and Spinks with academic Jim Campbell from the University ofthe West of England asking the questions. This serves as an introduction to the project. Here’s a short extract:
This is the first book you’ve decided to publish and it’s a book of documentary photographs, not fashion images.
James Shaw: We’re not a fashion brand, we make clothes. Styles change and we’ll go with that, but when we make something, we want to make it really well. This book is about the making process, the people and the places.
What was the idea behind the book?
James Shaw: Albam is involved in the whole manufacturing process and the factories are very important to us, so I started taking pictures to show customers how our clothes are made. Then I met John, and we decided we wanted to do something more in-depth.
John Spinks: Initially, James and I would drive around together. On the first couple of trips I expected everything in the factories to look the same; that I might be fishing in quite a small pool. But, after several return visits, definite differences started to emerge; the workers in Leicester are very different from those in Manchester, who are different from those in Nottingham. The question was how to capture this and place it in a photographic context. Eventually, I decided to give them time to reveal themselves.
‘Work’ is very hard to photograph. Essentially, I was just identifying things that would tell a story, like a little road movie. I didn’t want it to be a book that was just for people who like photography. Because the Albam shops are in London, the people who might buy the book are probably people who live there. I think presenting them with the people, and the places, that made their clothes is really important.
“John took the images in Factories over the course of two years, starting in 2008 and finishing in August this year,” explains Patrick Duffy of No Days Off. “He came to us early this year and asked if we’d like to work with him on distilling the hundreds of images he had taken into a book,” he continues. “Having known John since 2000, and respected his work for a good while longer, we were very excited to be involved. The design of the book reflects the nature of the images, which are very honest and straightforward, and fits in with the philosophy of Albam’s simple, well-crafted clothes.”
Factories: Photographs by John Spinks has been produced in an edition of 500. 80 pages. 240 x 275mm. Grey cloth bound hardcover with white foil. It is available from Albam stores and from albamclothing.com
See more of Spinks’ work at eastphotographic.com