The Future Collective is transforming the way creative agencies work

By Sujata Burman

The Future Collective

Kate Shepherd has always worked in design strategy within agencies. “There was a lot I wanted to fix, including how freelancers are treated,” she says, discussing the pros and cons that led her to launching The Future Collective. Shepherd co-founded the strategic creative consultancy with Matt Parry in 2019, with the aim of “harnessing that talent, because there's a growing number of independent workers.”

“We wanted to create an antidote to the traditional creative agency,” says Parry.

For him, the disconnection between the briefings and the teams was a big frustration. So, The Future Collective works with freelancers in a different way. First up, the team for each client always remains the same from the start to the finish of a project.

Secondly, they prioritise transparency and meaningful work, which is reflected by the consultancy’s B Corp status, and in its manifesto: ‘Design for better’. Their clients range from start-ups, to established brands – they’ve advised Audi on its sustainability initiatives, for example – and they take a conscious approach throughout.

For LDF22, the spotlight was on their project with fashion work wear brand Re_Threads. “I found something on the internet written by The Future Collective, about Dieter Rams’ ‘10 Principles of Good Design’,” says fashion designer and co-founder of Re_Threads, Liz McGreevy. She then reached out to the consultancy, recognising they shared a similar ethos.

Re_Threads was set up by McGreevy and Matt Roche, partly in response to the landfill waste created by workwear in the construction industry, where clothes are often discarded on a project-by-project basis. For McGreevy, there’s also a family connection – her grandad was a tailor, and though her mother would have loved to follow him into the trade, at the time she was told it wasn’t a job for a woman. Now, McGreevy has reset that balance, and gone a few steps further.

At Re_Threads, materials are sustainably sourced, products are crafted in factories with high ethical standards and 20% of the profits go to Rise Futures. The charity, which was launched by Roche, offers personalised programmes, mentoring and work placements to young people in the care system. Their goal is to create opportunities, community and craft a better future across the board.

Joining the dots, Re_Threads aligned well with The Future Collective, who took the intricacies of McGreevy and Roche’s story, along with the core foundations of their brand, and developed a complete identity. The result holds an equal sense of purpose and meaning, and is a clear example of what considered collaboration can achieve.