Atlas the Brand
Beatriz, when did you, Olivia and Augustus come up with the idea for Atlas The Brand?
We launched at the end of October 2019 but actually came up with the idea in 2018. Olivia and I had been running our previous business – BomBom Morocco – for about two years. On our trips there we saw how beautiful the fabric and details of traditional Moroccan clothing were, and began to think about developing our own range.
The challenge was how to keep the beauty and detail of the Moroccan designs, but make them fit our body shapes and be less difficult to wear on a regular basis. That is essentially the Atlas concept and its soul – take inspiration from cultures and styles around the world and turn them into ready-to-wear.
Describe the influences that went into the Mansour and Mandarin collections
Mansour is inspired by Morocco. The robes are the ultimate go-to for us, something we felt was missing from our wardrobe at the time. Velvet with embroidered handiwork and buttons is a salute to traditional formal attire in Morocco but the length of the jacket and the colour choices are what we craved and couldn't find anywhere else.
The robe can be worn with a dress and heels and is the ultimate rock ‘n roll party partner. It makes any outfit fabulous ...
Olivia and Beatriz in the Mansour robe
Intricate Moroccan embroidery
Mansour jackets in black, green and red
The Mandarin dinner jacket is our second best seller and is inspired by the Far East and Hong Kong in particular, where I live. It’s a tribute to the cultural clash between traditional China and colonial Britain.
The silk inner linings are gorgeous, some more bright and dynamic than others but all of a luxurious quality. This, combined with the Chinese cut, straight edge tailoring and mandarin collar on deep-coloured velvets, is a perfect balance of formal and rebellious, crazy yet organised, dynamic and staple, savage and beautiful!
Mandarin Jacket in Black
... and Emerald Green
We get inspiration from everything and anything – uniforms in restaurants, regal dress, street signs, art, mythical stories, everything.
The silk print inside the Black Mandarin dinner jacket, for instance, is very similar to a painting of a vase I fell in love at one of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong. The vase had dragons and symbols of longevity harmoniously intertwined around the body in a deep blue hue. When we came to selecting our prints, it automatically sprung to mind and I knew our first collection had to have a lining in this blue with a deeper story behind it.
Plus, I love dragons.
What have been the challenges in getting the clothes made?
Hahah where to begin?! Even after going through a previous start-up we were unprepared for how difficult it would be.
For a start, we have two different tailors, one in Morocco, one in China. This doubles the work, doubles the relationship management, doubles the time on Google translate, doubles the contracts, doubles everything! We wouldn't want it any other way, because the handiwork and details have to be authentic, but it means we have to keep two separate mindsets and is difficult.
Secondly, samples – you can design a piece, have it sampled 4 or 5 times til you’re sure it’s right, you approve it, and then ... the first production batch arrives and it’s different! So you have to be very patient and adaptable – we originally wanted to launch in November 2018 but one item wasn't quite right, so we had to push our timeframe back almost a year.
Do you keep stock or is everything made to order?
We learned from BomBom that stock is dangerous. You want to produce in high volumes to keep the unit cost down, but that means you have to make predictions about which styles and which colours and which sizes customers will buy, and you’re a hostage to fortune. If people don’t buy what you expect, you’re short of some SKUs and long of others, and your money is tied up in the non-selling stock.
So we try to keep stock as low as possible while still having enough to ship to a customer the next day – a fine line I must admit! Having said that, Atlas is a transitioning capsule company: once a collection is sold out, that’s it. We do limited edition collections and then move on to the next so we aren’t interested in holding too much stock anyway.
Do any shops in London sell Atlas?
Not at the moment. Originally we didn't want to wholesale and thought we’d keep Atlas as ecommerce only, but now we are actually looking for stockists in London. People like to touch and feel pieces before they buy, and check that sizing fits, so if you know of anyone out there who would be a good match, let us know!
Linen shirt with Nehru collar and traditional knot buttons
something different for Summer
also available in long-sleeve
If people buy online, what’s the delivery lead time?
For our current collections we have everything in stock so are able to send out on the next business day. Transit time depends where your package is being sent from but the average is 2-7 business days.
Where do the Callaghan family get their entrepreneurial drive from?
Haha well that's kind of you to say. We are lucky because our mother is creative and our father is entrepreneurial so we get a bit from each. Olivia and I started BomBom when I was 21 and it was such an adventure. We learnt how things work and just as importantly, how things don't work.
We definitely have a ‘go for it’ mindset. Atlas was at one point going to be a men’s clothing brand. When we were living in London, Augustus would say to Olivia and me, “I’ve got a party tonight, come and help me find something to wear” – a dream invitation for two sisters, and we would jump at the opportunity. We realised pretty quickly that compared to us, guys don't have much choice when it comes to cool, dress code-appropriate clothes in the price bracket between High Street and crazy expensive.
So we thought, why don’t we do it?
Mandarin Silk Set with Pink Skirt
Mandarin Silk Set with Dusty Pink Shorts
Mandarin Silk Set with Black Shorts
Mandarin Pant Suit in Navy & Black
Mandarin Pant Suit in Grey & Claret
Mandarin Linen Jacket
What’s it like working with siblings?
Olivia and I have this down to a T from our time at BomBom. We are the ying to each other's yang. Hahah it took a while, but we know exactly how to balance the other. Working with Augustus as well is really exciting, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Obviously we have a strong menswear collection so his take on the design is invaluable. He’s also a serious perfectionist so it’s great to have him on board from both a financial standpoint and making sure all the small details are thought about.
It’s really nice being able to do things together. We live on different sides of the world, so sharing a big part of our lives is very special. That being said, it's hard too. Siblings can be fiery with each other even on small things, but they also get over disputes faster than anyone else. You can’t imagine the journeys our family meals take – we can start by having a quiet one with scrambled eggs on toast and next thing you know the dining room has practically turned into a boardroom and we are discussing our next steps while one of us is hungover and the others haven't even been to bed yet. It’s an amazing thing to be able to do together and we really love it.
Thank you Beatriz!