05 April, 2019

Covered: Lifeboat Station Project

From an early age, Jack Lowe had an interest in photography. He was given a Kodak Instamatic camera at the age of 8 by his grandmother, which developed his passion into a career in photography. Jack's other passions are lifeboats and the sea, but how to combine all three? This is how the Lifeboat Station Project was born.
Working from a decommissioned ambulance, recommissioned as a mobile darkroom, Jack set out to photograph all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations and the volunteers, using Victorian glass plate equipment. He is currently just over half way through the project.
But how did Jack come to wear a Labour and Wait bib apron?

"I first became aware of the Labour and Wait bib apron back in 2014. I popped in to visit a friend who runs an independent coffee company.

He stopped work for a moment to say hello. While we chatted, I realised he was wearing a splendid looking apron. It looked perfect for my needs, just the thing I’d been looking for to protect me from the rigours of working with such an old photographic process as wet plate collodion. It had a lovely traditional feel too, that would suit my work down to the ground.

I asked him about it.

“You haven’t heard of Labour and Wait?” he said.

It was true, I hadn’t, but I got onto the website and ordered one straight away. A few years down the line, who’d have thought that it would become such a ‘famous’ item in its own right, even ending up as a museum exhibit!
I’m wearing the apron in just about every photograph of me working on the The Lifeboat Station Project. My followers love the #LSPthrowdown hashtag on Instagram, which I use at the end of my photographic missions.

I find a good spot to lay the apron down for a photograph, perhaps on a lifeboat deck or slipway to signify the end of another great few weeks on the coast.

Over time, it’s become really splashed and stained with silver nitrate, culminating in this final ’throwdown’ at the halfway point in Dover after four years’ work (above).

Now Labour and Wait have kindly donated a new apron to the project for the second half. I wonder which one will end up being the dirtier of the two…!"

Jack is currently exhibiting his work at Poole Museum until 22nd April, 2019, where you'll also find his original bib apron proudly displayed.

Follow Jack and the project on instagram: @lordlowe

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  • 02 April, 2019

    Covered: General Store, Peckham

    General Store is a neighbourhood grocery shop in Peckham, South London, who sell cheese, bread, coffee, wine, beer, seasonal fruit and vegetables, and lots of store cupboard essentials.

    Image from Monocle Magazine, 2013

    They are truly a shop after our own heart here at Labour and Wait, sharing not just aesthetic cues, but attitudinal ones too; they work with producers and suppliers who focus on the quality, integrity and provenance of their produce.

    We're also very pleased to say that not only are our aprons worn at General Store, but they sell them, too!

    Follow General Store on Instagram @general_store

    General Store
    172 Bellenden Road,
    Peckham, SE15 1BW 

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  • 18 March, 2019

    Covered: Monmouth Coffee Company

    Monmouth Coffee Company started roasting and retailing coffee from 27 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, in 1978. For thirty years they roasted their coffee in their basement (a production location we’re all too familiar with here at Labour and Wait!) but since 2007 they have larger facilities in Bermondsey to accommodate production for their now two shops, the other being at 2 Park Street, next to Borough Market.

    Photograph by Trent McMinn

    Sourcing and roasting coffee from single farms, estates and cooperatives is important to Monmouth Coffee, and allows them to establish strong relationships with the growers and exporters to ensure quality and fairness.

    Photograph by Trent McMinn

    Monmouth were the first adopters of the Labour and Wait apron, outside of our own shop. Many customers came to us after the staff at Monmouth had kindly told them where the aprons were from. As Monmouth Coffee Company are leaders in their field, this is an association of which we are very proud. In the early days, the aprons weren’t even labelled, so we relied totally on word of mouth recommendations like this!

    Monmouth Coffee Company
    27 Monmouth Street,
    Covent Garden,
    London, WC2H 9EU

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  • 15 March, 2019

    Covered: Canvas Aprons

    Labour and Wait on Cheshire Street, 2002

    Our canvas aprons have become a Labour and Wait classic. We made the prototypes ourselves, as staff uniform, in the basement of our original shop on Cheshire Street in 2000. Soon customers were wanting to buy them, so we found a factory in the UK and started production.

    A classic Cheshire Street sight, 2005

    Cheshire Street, 2006

    Our aprons were inspired by traditional shop coats worn in ironmongers and warehouses, the likes of which ceased being produced many years ago. Since inception our aprons have been often imitated but never quite equalled. They are made from robust and hardwearing cotton duck fabric, with brass eyelets and herringbone tape ties.

    Redchurch Street 2016, by Alun Calender

    As standard, we only offer our aprons in one colour; a stoic, trusty brown. However, over the years we have partnered with others to give a different spin on our aprons. In 2014 we worked with Monocle magazine to produce a special limited run of dark olive aprons with ecru tape and gunmetal eyelets; and in 2017 we jointly produced a denim apron with Blackhorse Lane Ateliers in Walthamstow, which referenced jeans heritage by using copper hardware instead of brass.

    Limited edition Monocle apron, 2014

    The Tokyo shop team, extolling the virtues of our aprons! 2017

    From these humble beginnings, we now supply the classic brown apron to restaurants, coffee shops, artists and craftspeople worldwide. To celebrate our aprons and their users, throughout 2019 we will be featuring a variety of apron wearers in our series 'Covered'.

    Redchurch Street, 2010

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