Archives for James Cropper

Thomas Pink and James Cropper collaborate for LC:M AW15

James Cropper, Thomas Pink, LC:M AW15, ICA, Sam Robins Flow CreationA paper cocktail glass with lemon slice made of James Cropper paper at the ICA  bar
designed by Sam Robins of Flow Creation for the Thomas Pink LC:M AW15 presentation

A BAR AT the ICA London has been made by British design studio, Flow Creation using papers from UK manufacturer James Cropper, as a collaboration with clothing brand Thomas Pink for the recent menswear shows.

The 170 year-old paper manufacturing company, James Cropper, who are based in the Lake District, and heritage clothing brand, Thomas Pink commissioned a paper bar and set of paper drinking accessories, as a centrepiece at the ICA (the Institute of Contemporary Arts) during the recent  LC:M  (London Collections Menswear) AW15 presentations.

Bar, James Cropper, Thomas Pink, LC:M AW15, ICA, Sam Robins Flow CreationThe paper bar at the ICA made by Sam Robins of Flow Creation using James Cropper
paper for Thomas Pink, LC:M AW15 presentation

The free-standing bar was designed and built by Sam Robins of Blackpool-based design studio, Flow Creation, and was made from two different weights of James Cropper’s White Kendal Manilla stock and was completed with paper glasses, lamps and fine architectural detail to complement the historic setting to stand  at the centre of Thomas Pink’s, London-inspired AW15 collection launch.

Robins’ brief was to called on the designer to evoke the crisp freshness of a new, white shirt while testing the qualities of the versatile paper stock.

Using James Cropper 315gsm and 180gsm paper, Robins combined manual hand-working and paper cut techniques with computerised design and cutting processes in his studio to develop the bar and drinking paraphernalia.

James Cropper, Thomas Pink, LC:M AW15, ICA, Sam Robins Flow CreationA paper cocktail glass with lemon slice detail at the paper bar at the ICA

Working with Thomas Pink’s commercial team and event and lighting designers for his cues, Robins was inspired by the architecture of ICA itself with its Corinthian columns and ornate cornicing.

Robins says, Sam says: “Initially I was shocked by the size of the venue; it’s a really grand, imposing space. The bar has grown to 8.5 metres long as a result. Thomas Pink really let me develop the design and specifications with little intervention, simply asking that it did the job of allowing models to interact with it as an alternative to your usual catwalk fashion show. The paper has stood up to every test I have thrown at it, with heavier stock taking the burden of structural support and the lighter weight allowing for decorative elements. Many of the props are really quite large, but can stand without additional support.”

Bar, James Cropper, Thomas Pink, LC:M AW15, ICA, Sam Robins Flow Creation, modelsModels at the Thomas Pink presentation posing at the paper bar at the ICA

Lemon slices, martini glasses and even a paper-framed, 3D artwork of the Thomas Pink logo, the ”cheeky fox”, were made by Robins as part of the concept. He  incorporated LEDs and RGB lighting tape into hidden parts of the bar to ensure it responds to thematic changes during the show.The bar was strengthened with an MDF sub-structure for surface strength and ballast which was the only ”structural concession required of the paper, to give models confidence in using it” .

Commercial Director of James Cropper, Chris Brown said: “Our customers come to us for a product that is perfectly matched to their needs, and in this case our White Kendal Manilla was ideal for laser cutting as well as the purity of its colour. Kendal Manilla has become established as a benchmark in quality in the art, craft and stationery markets and has proved perfect for the intricate construction of this fun, visually stunning project.”

In accordance with James Cropper’s strong environmental ethos, the paper bar will be recycled following the show as well as all the James Cropper branded paper drinks cups used to serve cocktails at the event.

The Kendal Manilla stock contains up to 40% reclaimed fibres from single-use drinks cups.  The reclaimed pulp originates from James Cropper’s own, innovative recycling plant, which gives the formerly unrecyclable waste material a new lease of life.

A video of the event.

by Caroline Simpson

Innovation and Tradition: an Interview with Chris Brown of James Cropper

  • landscape, Burneside Mills, Cumbria, Lake District, James Cropper
    Burneside Mills, the Lake District, where James Cropper is based

PAPER remains a fundamental part of our lives, even though the digital age has long predicted its death. At the centre of the paper industry are big corporate giants but also smaller firms that have been in business for hundreds of year. One such place is James Cropper, a British paper and advanced materials company that has been in operation since 1845.

We spoke to Chris Brown, commercial director for James Cropper, to discover more about the company, its heritage, and how they are staying relevant in today’s digitised world.

The James Cropper mill and brand dates back to the mid-18th century. What role does heritage play in your brand today?
Working for, doing business with or visiting James Cropper, you can’t help but feel the heritage and pedigree of the company, whether that’s in the quality of our product, our attention to customer service or the simple fact that our Chairman is the sixth generation of the same family to take his seat in that office. As a successful family business, our people are valued in the same way that the environment around our historic mill is preserved. Doing business in a responsible way, putting individuals first and striving to develop ambitious, market-leading products in the spirit of the first James Cropper, are all inherent to our organisational culture.

What value, in your opinion, do your customers place on the value of tradition?
Our customers want a product that is perfectly matched to their needs, and I am pleased that we are able to go beyond their expectations more often than not. If it wasn’t for the pride that people feel in the expertise they offer our customers, which is a direct result of our traditions, then we might not be able to provide that high level of service and product. It can’t be ignored that, as well as delivering the right product at the right time, having nearly two centuries of paper-making experience gives many customers confidence that we can deliver.

 Your current chairman, Mark Cropper, is the great-great-great-grandson of the company founder. How does this family ownership and legacy feed into the culture of your company and its vision?
Mark is a proud custodian of the family name, even researching and writing a book on the history of the company, so you can’t fail to find his pride infectious. However, he and everyone else at the company are forward-looking, with a prime example of that attitude being the success of our Technical Fibre Products company, which takes the principles of paper-making to create strong and lightweight, nonwoven carbon-based products for the aerospace industry, amongst many others. We have offices around the world, as far as China and the USA, so the walls of our historic mill don’t contain us, but we use our history and traditions as a catalyst to maintain our standards in product quality and service.

 The James Cropper mill is located in the small town of Burneside in a historically paper-making area of the Lake District. How does this slightly remote location affect how you do business and market your products?
Burneside Mill lies roughly 10 miles from the motorway network, just over an hour from international flights at Manchester Airport and London can be reached in less than three hours by train from nearby Oxenholme station, so we don’t feel remote. Our customers are based internationally, with our calendar dominated by trade events in Shanghai, Frankfurt and Monaco, and our sales team in offices around the world, speaking local languages, so our reach isn’t limited by geography at all.

In turn, how has James Cropper worked to differentiate itself from competitors over the years?
Colour has always been, and will continue to be, an area in which James Cropper has sought to lead. Custom-made papers requested by the most discerning of luxury brands require an exemplary eye for detail and we have been able to provide that consistently. Textures and finishes, with our own converting business co-located with the mill, is another strength which we recognise as difficult for other manufacturers to compete with. Our Reclaimed Cup Fibre Facility, opened with an investment of £5m, means that we are developing more high-specification papers containing post-consumer waste than ever before, responding to the needs of our customers to develop packaging that is sustainably sourced.

What innovations has your company made in the paper industry?
Last year, we opened a pioneering plant for recycling paper coffee cups. It has opened up an opportunity, for the first time, for the paper industry to recover the 2.5 million paper cups otherwise destined to landfill each year. By separating the plastic from the high-quality pulp, James Cropper can make the highest quality paper from this former waste material. In the same year, our award-winning paper containing a percentage of cocoa shells – a waste product of the chocolate industry – was developed in collaboration with the chocolate wholesaler, Barry Callebeaut. We are focused on problem solving and up to now there have been very few challenges that have left us scratching our heads.

 From where are your materials mainly sourced?
We source our materials from a variety of sources. Virgin paper pulp is commonly sourced from sustainable forestry organisations in Scandinavia, where we are made very comfortable by their exemplary environmental credentials. The cup material for our Reclaimed Fibre Facility constituting around a fifth of our fibre requirement comes from the UK.  We work very closely with all of our suppliers to ensure that our raw materials and products meet the exacting environmental and safety standards that our customers expect.

 What efforts does James Cropper make to be more sustainable?
Our mill sits on the River Kent, and sat further upstream is an electricity generating facility that turns the flow of the water into power for the mill. Of course, we don’t rely solely on its output, but it is investments like this that gets us closer to where we all want to be. In the last decade, we have invested in technologies and facilities that means our contribution to landfill is less, turning our paper-making sludge into a dryer cake which can and does get used to fertilise local farmland. We operate a highly efficient Quality Assured CHP plant for the heat and energy required for papermaking.

Installing a Waste Heat Recovery Unit has allowed us to recycle some of that energy, reducing our reliance on natural gas by 6 per cent per annum. Papermaking also requires plenty of water, which we are indebted to the River Kent for also. Water drawn from the River Kent is retained and recycled within the production process before being discharged to our own effluent plant for processing. There is plenty that we do, hitting the targets that are important to us and the environment around us. It’s a sensible way to do business.

 How important are digital and social media to your marketing and branding efforts?
News of our product developments can spread around the internet very quickly, so we are very aware of how digital communications can influence our customers as well as our competitors. Some of our marketing activities, such as sponsorship of the Gerald exhibition in New York last year, are considered with this in mind and we create campaigns accordingly. On other occasions, we understand that the direct approach of our busy sales team will be more appropriate, given that we hold valuable, long-standing relationships with our customers who require custom-made solutions. In the coming months, social media and our website will tell more of the James Cropper story as we approach a busy period of product development.

by Jessica Quillin