Amber Symond imagines her garment of choice as a blank canvas, an exploration of her closest interests and passions; literature, music and the figurative arts are collected and embroidered onto pieces as one would amass meanings, tattoos and talismans over time. These ideas, private and thematic, evolved around specific memories - times when she felt love, anger or bouts of inspiration, moved by a particular gesture, artwork or emotion.
What started with the concept of making classic, simply designed garments constructed from high-quality compositions quickly evolved into something bigger as Symond began identifying a market gap for an essential garment that was universal, versatile, simple yet elegant. Decorated with words and images that held personal meaning, Symond envisioned they could be worn in a myriad of different ways, from relaxed loungewear all the way through to evening wear.
Inspired by a spirit of rebellion and hedonism yet wrapped in a timeless exterior, the pieces appeal to a conﬁdent, rule-defying individual who would feel as comfortable wearing a robe to an event as they would an evening gown. The nature of these garments also speaks to the idea of private rituals, lending itself for moments of contemplation, self-care and unwinding: the meditative glamour of a glass of whiskey in the bath, the casual luxury and ceremony of tea in the silence and darkness before daybreak. To be transcended through a great novel, uplifted and transformed by music - the beauty of Common Hours.
Soon natural, sustainably-sourced fibres such as French silk, raw green Brazilian canvas, Italian leather and translucent Japanese ‘fairy feather’ began to capture Symond’s attention. These hero fabrications, paired with a desire to record feelings through imagery, words and moments in time, became a tangible canvas. Layered on this was the wish to work with other artists and artisans the world over whom Symond met during her travels - and so Common Hours was born.
Beginning with a classic box-sleeved robe, Common Hours also offers a 1990s-meets-1930s slip dress, further underlining the message of wearable, universal shapes and simple designs made from outstanding compositions.
“It was important for me to choose a garment that was universal in appeal” explains Symond. “I wanted to work with rare, interesting and high-quality materials that are ethically sourced and produced. Robes are universally recognisable, practical and versatile. They have become my imaginary canvas.”
Founder Amber Symond captured by Georges Antoni
Hair Renya Xydis
Make-up Filomena Natoli
Gemma Ward wears Common Hours, captured by Jake Terrey
Styling Sarah Starkey
Hair Daren Borthwick
Make-up Gillian Campbell
The intention is to guarantee genuine and authentic outcomes with artisans. Ensuring a small, limited-edition production run with a maximum of 50 units set for each artwork reproduction is essential so that each piece can remain rare and covetable, protecting both brand authenticity and exclusively at a customer level. Due to this, and to some collaborators' body of work, this is not a brand for everyone; Common Hours is loving and respectful of the craft yet often bold and polarising on its own terms.
Transparency is a small but important way to ensure quality and best practices. All CH pieces proudly list not only where the garments are made, but also the origins of its compositions - including fabrics and imported materials, as well as artisans and artists who have contributed to the work.
The luxury is in the materials, the artistic element, but also tellingly, in the biggest luxury of all: time. This idea transpires on the ‘inside and out’ quality of the detailing - embroidery motifs which may appear only inside to be seen by the wearer alone, while some styles are fully reversible. “I am obsessed with detail and perfection”, says Symond. “Materials, artistic value and craftsmanship are paramount. The outcome is, I hope, a unique product. Certainly, the finished result and the delivery of it has become deeply personal to me. Each piece is something I want to wear and holds some special meaning, from the fabric and artists selection to the embellishments we have created."
"Ultimately, Common Hours is for a woman who prefers collectable pieces - she has a restrained confidence, bold enough to embrace a style and comfort of her own. I hope that the pieces could be worn around the house and through to a black-tie event. They are for the individual woman who seeks quality and searches for something more personal. It may be an image, phrase or poetry that means something to her, a hidden meaning resonating to the wearer of the garment; maybe it's a wonderful memory, perhaps a quiet dissent or protest, but all within a classic and beautiful garment."