Archive for October, 2011

Interview with British vintage inspired designer Bronwyn Lowenthal of Lowie

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

How do you describe to people what you do and your design style?

Lowie is a vintage-inspired accessories and Womens-wear brand. We use luxury yarns mixed with traditional handicraft elements to create each fashion piece.

What sort of comments do you get about your designs?

I am told our products are well made and fun.

 


What is your background?

I have been a Brand Manager for Ben Sherman, a Marketer for shopping centre brand Westfield, and I was at high-end Australian fashion publication Oyster. I grew up in Tasmania, Australia and have a degree in Fashion retail management and marketing.

Why did you start doing what you do?

Setting up my own business was a natural progression although I thought I would be a retailer rather than a designer. I’ve always been very fond of knitwear
having grown up in Tasmania where they have a traditional of rearing very fine woolled
sheep.

Which retailers do you rate highly and why?

My most inspiring retail shops are Anthropologie because of the effort that has gone into selecting every piece. Also Bluebird on the Kings Road as it has the yummiest edit of both high end and boutique brands – there is always something I want to buy even if it’s just a book. I also love Liberty because of the amazing mock-tudor building.

Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves...

I find objects, be they vintage knits, pieces of jewellery or even a pair of shoes, select the element I like about
them and then develop a concept around that element. I usually make a range plan and design the accessories first which is probably the opposite of most designs where accessories will be an afterthought. Once a season I travel to the far-east to visit and work with our manufacturers and hand-knitters, this makes sure we get the best manufacturing results. We show the range to retailers about 5 to 6 months before it comes out to the stores so that they can make their own
selection. Once the range is designed and made, we at Lowie ensure our product gets to the stores.

How do you think your brand has developed?

Lowie started as an accessories brand just focussing on knitwear, but now we have branched out. Apart from our best-selling accessories such as knitted hats, fingerless gloves and leather belts we also make knitted and woven clothing. We have grown the number of Lowie stockists and we now sell to around 100 stores around the world.

What do you hate most about your job?

I don’t hate anything about my job! ...but there are some elements I particularly love, like designing and getting geeky with spreadsheets!

What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now?

My main achievement is lasting this long. Lowie will be 10 years old in 2012! We’re currently searching for a permanent
retail shop and hope to find one in the next few months, so watch this space!

What advice would you have for anyone starting out?

If you are passionate you will get there.

IndependentBoutique.com is proud to work with British designers, why do you think British design stands out?

British design is unique, it is vibrant and we embrace ‘new’ fashions more readily than any other country.

Shop the Lowie Collection......

Interview with British Handbag Brand, Peony and Moore's Lucy Clayphan

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

How do you describe to people what you do and your design style?

Peony & Moore is all about classic British style and providing handbags which are of both high quality and great design but not at a designer price tag. We like to give added value and believe you can have a great piece without paying £500+. Our designs are a mixture of both contemporary styles and a more vintage feel. We pride ourselves on ‘thoughtful’ design, therefore the bags are all well planned and well road tested! For example, we use light cotton linings so you can find your keys, we have pockets to fit a smart phone, some of the pockets have false buckles and actually use a magnet closure so you get the style element but not the fuss of practically using a buckle.

What sort of comments do you get about your designs?

We have a very loyal customer base who tend to repeat purchase from us over the year. Our bags are viewed as very high quality for the price. The leather is probably the most talked about aspect, we use Italian leathers and hardware and they just feel so much better than leathers from the far east which tend to be hard, stiff and brittle. The leather we use on the “Lucia”bag for example is buttery soft, a lovely grainy leather which is used on designer bags. We made a

conscious decision to use Italian leather to ensure we had a USP over the UK  high street and offer our customers a far better quality proposition.

Our collection is also handmade, most are hand stitched so the craftsmanship and attention to detail has to be of the highest quality.

Pam Palmer and Lucy Clayphan of “Peony and Moore” with their best-seller bag “Lucia”.

What is your background?

With a handbag addiction of my own and a great love for fashion, in 2009, I set up Peony & Moore with Pam Palmer. I have a sales & marketing background
having learnt the ropes at HJ Heinz in Brand Management. I gained my Charterted Institiute of Marketing Diploma many years ago and have built a career successfully marketing & building brands for clients. Pam Palmer has successfully run other businesses for many years & has a wealth of business acumen which complements our team. She is also a handbag addict. (This may even be a medical affliction nowadays!)

Why did you start doing what you do?

After years of marketing other businesses, I wanted to market something for myself. With a love for fashion and after extensive research and trips to the large trade fairs in Milan we recognized a gap in the market from the UK high street offering handbags up to £100 and the designer entry level handbags at £500+. We decided to fill the gap, thus Peony & Moore was created.


Which designers do you rate highly and why?

I think British design is second to none. Anya Hindmarch has been a key ambassador for handbag design, introducing classic handbags using beautiful quality leathers and hardware. I am also a Vivienne Westwood fan, for her eccentricity and brave attitude towards fashion, yet makes her collection commercial through wearability.

Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves...

Our designs start from flicking through magazines, watching trends, seeing new leathers, hardware and gaining inspiration from everyday life. Each season I will have key styles which I want to create, (a top handle, a tote, a clutch) then I sit with a sketch pad and create. Sometimes I’ll see something in the street, I have stalked an unsuspecting lady through the aisles, just to get a better look at a lock or a finish! I bring together the concept with a series of sketches & detailed brief which is sent to our craftsmen to interpret. Samples are then created which go back and forth for a few weeks, leathers are changed, often locks and clasps are mixed and matched and then a final sample is signed off between Pam and myself.
Production can then take up to 4-6 weeks, dependent on the leathers required. During production, our final sample is taken to the photographic studio for the website shots and we take to the streets, or countryside for the lifestyle shots.
Our web designer then creates the page, this is normally sat waiting to go live when the stock arrives. Once stock is approved through quality control they go onto the shelves and the product page goes live. Et viola!

How do you think your brand has developed?

Initially, we sold 5 or 6 european brands under the Peony & Moore umbrella, including GABS Florence, Gianni Chiarini and Massimo Trulli. However over the first year, it became clear to the team that we could design and manufacture better bags. Our own label collection was created a year ago (in 2010), therefore the brand is now synonymous with our own label rather than the other collections. We are gaining a loyal following and we have gained some fantastic coverage in RED Magazine, Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, Easy Living and Harpers to name a few.

What do you hate most about your job?

Nothing... Well, that’s not entirely true, I have to admit to being the happiest I have ever been in a career, however I do still groan at the amount of emails I get through daily!

What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now?

Our best achievement to date is launching our own label collection and surviving our first 2 years in business. Our biggest challenge for the future is to get our handbags out there and build our brand.

What advice would you have for anyone starting out in?

Fashion retailing is a highly competitive market so you’ll have to work the hardest you ever have; however, keep in mind that it will be the most satisfying thing you’ve ever done.

Why do you think British design stands out on the global stage?

British design manages to successfully bridge the gap between pushing the boundaries, with eccentric style on the catwalk, and implementing commercial designs which people want to buy. We do this better than anyone else in the world. It also helps that the British are fashion junkies and we not only have great ‘fast’ fashion, but a fantastic pillar of established UK designers leading world fashion.

Interview with British handbag designer Heidi Mottram

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

How do you describe to people what you do and your design style?

I love simple shapes with quirky or textured details. I like my fashion practical but with a design edge. I believe that my own designs also fit with these personal ideals.

I am pro eco and like to do my bit for the environment. This is why I design accessories using bi-product leathers. I do not agree with harming animals purely for vanity. The eel and salmon skins that I use are amazingly soft and luxurious to touch yet would have been thrown away.

What sort of comments do you get about your designs?

My customers say that my designs are sharp, simple and elegant.

What is your background?

I studied at the London College of fashion and Central St Martins specialising in fashion and textiles. I have experience working with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson.

Why did you start doing what you do? I have always loved fashion and textiles from year dot. I think things should feel as good as they look. I love and have always loved accessories and believe that they are the icing on the cake to any outfit.

Which designers do you rate highly and why? 

My fashion idol has always been Vivienne Westwood. I love the mix of quirkiness and quality. Aside to Vivienne I love the natural art work of Andy Goldsworthy. He uses materials from nature which have fallen to the ground or have been discarded. His work and natural textures greatly inspires my own work.

Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves...

Inspiration can come from anywhere. I tend to keep a note book with me to jot down any ideas or themes that may
be of use and interest to future products. Each season I choose one or two of the ideas and look into them further. I will then start putting pencil to paper sketching out my ideas. I create everything by hand. It is great to get away from the computer and get back to basics. Once I have finalised my chosen designs, they are turned into a working drawing and sent off to be sampled.

How do you think your brand has developed?

My brand logo has recently been updated to represent my brand ideals better. We are now incorporating the turtle icon into our logo. The turtle is a symbol of longevity and luck. The turtle is also a creature that carries its life in a gorgeous protective casing. Our customers often make the comment that they carry their lives in their handbags. I wanted to include this idea into our branding. Since we began our range has become more luxurious and yet more experimental with textures. We are also starting to cater for technology products such as our new i-Pad cases. We have also formed a limited edition range for our loyal customers to collect.

What do you hate most about your job?

There is a lot of admin work which certainly is not as fun as designing. We work a season ahead so sometimes it can make the years feel like they are flying by!

What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now?

Each successful season is an achievement. Heart, soul and a sprinkling of panic goes into every collection. It is great to have a challenge each season and tackle
the challenge head on to create something you love and hope
others love too.

What advice would you have for anyone starting out in?

Stick to your beliefs and be prepared to learn about areas of business you never thought you would. Sadly you can't just sit and design. Time management is also key.

Why do you think British design stands out on the global stage? I think British design has always
been a symbol of quality. The British are also known for their slight eccentricities which have always formed a global interest.

Interview with British handbag designer Aura Que

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

How do you describe to people what you do and your design style?

AURA QUE aims to design and produce modern but timeless accessories for women. Putting handmade materials and quality first, in a socially conscious way. I like to mix materials giving tonal contrast within each product – currently working with soft buffalo leather and hand-knitted banana fibre yarn. I work with small producer groups and family businesses in Nepal, aiming to encourage employment in this developing country.

What is your background?

I finished my degree at the Cordwainers College at London college of Fashion with first class honours
in 2007 and established AURA QUE in 2008 aiming to help encourage employment for Nepalese producers with the challenge to design desirable quality accessories. Working with members of the
Nepal Fair Trade group and small family businesses, I have spent the last three years sourcing and refining every component of my handbags and accessories, developing the AURA QUE range, supply chain, quality control and production reliability.

Why did you start doing what you do?

In my final year at London College of Fashion, I wanted to research the possibilities of producing my own collection with a social ethos and direct contact with producers – Nepal was a place that I felt an affinity with, after a 5 month volunteering placement in 2003 so I came to research small manufacturers in leather, hand-knit and cloth products in 2006.

I enjoy working directly with people and the materials in the factory to develop my designs, and I like the ‘hands on’ approach with design and manufacture, rather than sending 2D design specifications to large anonymous factories in China for example! Also with unemployment so low in Nepal, I thought that in the long run, once AURA QUE is more established, that working with factories here, would help more individuals find work and be able to provide for their families.

Which designers do you rate highly and why?

I love a wide range of designers maybe for their accessories, or how they rework classic pieces, or just their style! Such as Marni, Alexander Wang, 3.1 Philip Lim, Future Classics, and on the highstreet: All Saints and Miista.

Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves...

I collect ideas everywhere I go - take photos, small scribbles of a detail or something that inspires me, fabric swatches or interesting colours. I keep these ideas and cut-outs etc in journals, which I work through each season and develop into designs.

From my initial design, I worked on the pattern and dimensions myself, then working with Kumar, a keen sample maker at the leather factory; a pleasure to work with. We have managed to develop many samples together, working out the design aesthetic that I would like, challenged by the technical machinery and skills of the production unit. Its one of my favourite processes within AURA QUE, we learn a lot from each other.

With AURA QUE, it is not possible at the moment to get a perfectly ethical supply chain, but every material and manufacturer is carefully considered with regards to ethics, design and cost. The social fair trade aspect is of primary concern to me – working directly with all my producers, and using
handmade local materials and production that create more employment opportunities.

How do you think your brand has developed?

Each collection has grown stronger, as we find new materials to work with and create new designs with our producers.

What do you hate most about your job?

Not much really! It can be difficult to complete production in the short time frames, especially with all the components handmade, but generally I love that every day is different!

What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now?

It has been a great challenge to develop AURA QUE and work with the producers in Nepal – every sample and then order is a small achievement! It has been great to see the brand grow and to receive positive comments from customers through twitter, facebook and the blog.

What advice would you have for anyone starting out in (your field)?

Keep going! And be practical as well as creative.

Interview with British handbag designer Carmen Woods

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

How do you describe to people what you do and your design style? 

I describe myself as a fashion designer and business owner. It’s my mission to create gorgeous leather handbags that are stylish, timeless pieces. My collection is beautiful, interesting and wearable, with a true artisan identity, which reflects my ideology of what fashion should be.

What sort of comments do you get about your designs?

I am thankful to say that I get many lovely comments about my bags from both new and repeat customers. They seem to appreciate what I’m trying to achieve with my design ethos and enjoy wearing my handbags. The word which is most used in relation to my handbag designs is ‘beautiful’.

What is your background?

I studied for a BA Honours Degree in Fashion with Textiles at ‘Ravensbourne College of Design’. After studying I knew straight away that I wanted to start a

fashion label and whilst I experimented with ideas, I worked at Liberty as a sales assistant on the womenswear designer floor. This experience really taught me how to design what a customer really wants as opposed to what I think they might want; it was essentially great market research.

I went to Italy to work as a womenswear clothing design assistant at a well-known label that had stores throughout Northern and Central Italy. My next job was also as a design assistant but with a completely different type of label which focused on textile techniques such as printing and embellishing. Here I started to design accessories and realised that I really loved creating handbags and working with leather. I went on to start my first label with an Italian designer and in our first season we sold our accessories collection to seven prestigious boutiques in the Emilia-Romagna area, including one that stocked other labels such as ‘Prada’ and ‘Roberto Cavalli’. After working in a partnership for a year, I realised that we wanted the label to go in different directions, so I returned to England to start researching for my new label ‘Carmen Woods’. Since returning to UK and whilst setting up and running my own label I have worked as a freelance designer at an ethical label.

Why did you start doing what you do?

I wanted to start a label with my own vision since I studied fashion design at college. I have always had a very clear idea about what fashion should be and what it means to me. I wanted to bring beautiful designs to customers that are both wearable and interesting; to create modern classics which are great quality and timeless, like an investment piece. I believe in promoting ‘slow fashion’ instead of the fast throw-away variety and think that it’s good to look after good quality pieces instead of spending money on poor quality fast fashion that outdates very quickly. I also have so many ideas all the time, so wanted the challenge of creating without any barriers, unlike when you design for someone else. I also was really interested in learning all the skills attached to running your own business, like decision making, communicating with your manufacturers/suppliers/customers, branding, marketing and even accounting.

Which designers do you rate highly and why?

There have been many designers I’ve aspired to throughout my life. When I was at college I loved Gianfranco Ferre the most for his sculptural elegant designs and Prada for their understated forward thinking vision. I also really loved conceptual designers such as Comme des Garcons and Hussein Chalayan. When I first started handbag designing I discovered a brilliant accessories label called Bracher Emden. Their designs really pushed creativity to the extreme with a vibrant contrast of colour, leather textures and Swarovski crystals. At the moment I really like the handbag brand Rocio, who carve their creations from wood and the well established designer Anya Hindmarch. I also love Basso & Brooke for their amazing prints, Miu Miu for their accessories and I'm still in awe of Prada!

Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves...

I am both visually and craft inspired, so I work between 2D and 3D by sketching ideas and experimenting with various techniques. Everything connected to my brand is fairly localised. My production is completely UK based and my leather and fittings are sourced from Italy. The zips I use for my ‘Carmen’ range are Swiss and for my ‘CW’ range are British. My boutique is situated in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, which is the perfect location for my label. It’s fast becoming a really fashionable and affluent area, with good boutiques, restaurants and bars but still retaining its local village identity. My main label ‘Carmen’ reflects the time I spent in Ravenna, Italy, working as a fashion designer, where I drew inspiration from the intricate Byzantine mosaics, which covered the city’s buildings and walkways, in response I have used patch-work and pleating techniques in the “Carmen” collection. We use these techniques to harness a beautifully sculptural and timeless quality in our bags, whilst standing out as something individual and desire to harness a beautifully sculptural and timeless quality in our bags, whilst standing out as something individual and desirable. In addition to creating interesting designs, it has always been important to maintain high quality. We make sure that every piece is made using the finest Italian leather and only the very best materials such as Swiss zips and strong nickel fittings. This ensures that every bag is durable and an investment piece, looking better over time. For my diffusion range ‘CW’ I continued my interest with artisan techniques and evolved my sketches into an appliqué. The appliqué was inspired by the mountainous landscapes I saw on holiday, so work well as flowing linear shapes over the ‘modern classic’ shape of the designs. Most recently I’ve launched a new part to my ‘CW’ range, mixing bold colours and integrating canvas with leather. The appliqué patterns are inspired from animal skins, however in quite an abstract way. In addition to creating interesting designs, it has always been important to maintain high quality. We make sure that every piece is made using the finest Italian leather and only the very best materials such as Swiss zips and strong nickel fittings. This ensures that every bag is durable and an investment piece, looking better and better over time.

How do you think your brand has developed? 

Over the last three years I’d like to think that my label has developed into the brand I was hoping for. It has really helped having a concept boutique where I can display my collection and create an atmosphere in the way I want to. I would like to think my brand is associated with good quality, timeless designs that are wearable. I wanted my boutique to look very welcoming to make my customers feel at home, so I decided to recreate a living room. I sourced antique furniture, such as a Queen Ann chair covered in Liberty fabric, a crafted rug and a vintage telephone. I hung framed photographs of my designs on the walls, alongside my handbags suspended from silver hooks. The last three years since I’ve been in business, have mostly been a positive experience as I have learnt so many new skills. When I started my label I never dreamed that I would have to know about so many aspects of business and be taken out of my comfort zone so much. But I always confront challenges that arise and have learnt how to deal with many situations. I’ve also worked incredibly hard over the last few years but luckily I‘ve had a lot of support from my family and friends. What do you hate most about your job? Doing my accounts, as it’s really boring! Most other areas of my business are enjoyable, like designing, sourcing, selling and marketing, so I am lucky to do something that I enjoy 90% of the time.

What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now?

I have had quite a few proud moments. For example, when I see my handbags in a magazine, when a customer tells me they are enjoying their purchase, when I see someone using one of my designs, when I receive a new collection from my maker. Also I was really proud when I was short listed by the ‘British Council’ as Young British Creative Entrepreneur of the Year. My business is a lot of hard work but gives me so much satisfaction in times like these. In the future I have lots of plans for the business. I am currently expanding my label’s stockists, which is a major sales plan. I am also working on designs for future collections; in particular I am experimenting with more fabric/leather combinations. For my boutique I will be looking to extend and start to stock other labels complimentary to my own collection.

What advice would you have for anyone starting out?

If you really feel that you can give something interesting to the fashion industry then you shouldn't be intimidated by the huge amount of competition. It's an overcrowded profession but there will always be room for a designer with ideas and passion. Make sure you go to a good college and secure as much work experience within various labels as you can. Keep your eyes open for inspiration at all times and create a book of ideas that you draw upon for future projects. It is also important to research fashion trends and visit as many boutiques as possible.

IndependentBoutique.com is proud to work with British designers, why do you think British design stands out?

I think British design stands out for many reasons. Firstly the quality of our colleges and universities surpass most other countries. We also have such great museums and art galleries to use as reference points. In addition to this, as a nation we are very good at mixing influences and cultures which usually produces innovative and exciting results.

Interview with British handmade shoe designer Hetty Rose

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

How do you describe to people what you do and your design style?

The concept behind the Hetty Rose brand is based on a theory of re-using and re-working vintage materials in a creative and sustainable way, hand making shoes to fit. We are a passionate bespoke footwear company, with a clear brand philosophy; to make an environmental statement in an aesthetically pleasing way. Our designs are simple yet distinctive, with colour being the overriding attraction to the shoes. This collaboration of colour, materials, service and directional design, result in unique, wearable footwear. Hetty Rose shoes appeal to the individual who craves authentic and
individual products to enrich their life.

What sort of comments do you get about your designs?

They are bright, happy shoes and my clients tell me they enjoy being a part of the process choosing the style, fabric and heel etc. Our shoes make the wearer feel unique, as the fabrics are unique, so they know no-one else will have the same shoes. Each pair are different, even if they are cut from the same kimono fabric. 

What is your background?

On my first day at Nursery School my mother asked what my new teacher was like and apparently repeatedly described my teachers red shoes, so I suppose I started young! My focus at school and college was on experimenting with creating shoes as art. I then did a four-year degree at London College of Fashion in a Footwear Design and development course, which I loved. I spent my third year in an industrial placement with shoe designer, Georgina Goodman, which gave me an insight into the industry. After university I worked for hand-made shoes companies both in London and Italy and then I started up the Hetty Rose Company at the end of 2006. I launched my first collection in London Fashion Week in February of 2007 and haven't looked back since.

Why did you start doing what you do?

I have a very artistic family with my mother being an artist, my father was a photographer and my sisters are designers, I was always encouraged to experiment with my creativity and a unique passion, for me it was shoes.

Which designers do you rate highly and why?

Beatrix Ong designs beautifully simple, yet stunning shoes. Also Nicholas Kirkwood makes very distinctive and experimental shoes, with extraordinary components and materials.

Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves... Inspiration for a design or concept can come from anywhere. For instance there is a shadow on my ceiling in the mornings, it looks like a slingback wedge shoe, so I now have it in one of my collections. I get lots of inspiration from architecture, shape, form and the materials I am planning to use. From here, I make the patterns, cut the uppers and linings and stitch them together. They are then lasted (moulded) around the last (the form I make the shoes on) then the sole and heel are attached. They are finished on the inside with padding and a layer of leather. All these processes take time and require moulding/drying time, hense why it takes 6-8 weeks for the bespoke service.

 

How do you think your brand has developed?

Over the past 4 years the brand has developed in many ways, but we have stayed true to our ethos of designing and hand-making in the UK and adhering to our sustainable philosophy. We have built a good client base, gained much press coverage and appeared at many exhibitions and shows across the World. This has helped to shape our brand and develop our responsiveness to client needs.

What do you hate most about your job?

Working for yourself can be tiring and there is a lot of pressure to make sure the business succeeds. Working weekends and evenings with no security of what will come next is always a risk.

What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now?

I plan to steadily build up my business and profile. Through ongoing research of the market and materials, I aim to develop the brand, as being reliable and credible, by continuously providing a quality product, excellent service with a definitive brand identity. By creating an experience for customers, I aim to grow my loyal customers base. I aim to design the Hetty Rose trans-seasonal collections with the ethos of making a collection which has typical signature style to be recognisable as the Hetty Rose brand.

I like to collaborate with other designers and makers and value all varied disciplines. I would like to expand to a shop in the UK and then abroad in Europe, US and Japan. I also enjoy explaining and demonstrating my practice to others and would love to carry out educational workshops.

What advice would you have for anyone starting out in shoe making?

Be bold and find your own style of working and have confidence in yourself and your work.

IndependentBoutique.com is proud to work with British designers, why do you think British
design stands out?

The heritage and authenticity that comes with a British-made product enhances its appeal. British designers are bold designers, prepared not to conform and to produce distinctive, unique and classic design.

Interview with British knitwear brand 'Quinton & Chadwick'

Monday, October 24th, 2011

How do you describe to people what you do and your design style? 

Design duo Jess Quinton and Jane Chadwick have run their intrinsically British Knitwear label QUINTON CHADWICK for over 12 years. They design a seasonal Autumn Winter Knitwear Collection which includes scarves, gloves , hats and a small range of signature hand knitted garments. Their relaxed, contemporary women's knitwear is hand crafted and features quirky, unusual detailing and colour combinations that sets the brand apart. Attention to detail in both design aesthetic and the high quality of their fabrics and the impeccable finish defines their handwriting.

They say " Designed in Britain, Made in Britain, Worn worldwide "

What sort of comments do you get about your designs? 

Boutique owners and their customers absolutely love our designs which is backed up season after season with continued repeat orders.

They love the colour combinations, innovative designs, the individuality and the amazing quality of craftsmanship and the fact it is all made in Britain.

What is your background?

Jess Quinton worked for Missoni in Italy after graduating from the RCA and Jane Chadwick ran her own label and trend forecast consultancy. They met while lecturing part -time  something they both still enjoy and commit themselves to Jess at Central St Martins and Jane at Kingston University.

Why did you start doing what you do?

They originally formed Quinton Chadwick to make knitwear for themselves on finding that all that was available was either big catwalk statements or boring mass produced pieces made only to fit into a collection. Their mission - to make knitwear to keep and love with enough character and quality to make it more than a one-season wonder.

Which designers do you rate highly and why? 

British designers such as Margaret Howell , Paul Smith  who design with such integrity and support our British industry.

Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves...

We start at the beginning of the season with a trip to Pitti Filati,  a yarn show in Florence as new yarn developments are always a starting point.We then work on a new theme for each collection which could be inspiration from a travel trip to Marrakesh, an  exhibition / book / film or vintage pieces.

Colour is very important for us and we will look at trend styles but then we do our own thing as it's important that each collection has our very own individual hand writingWe both  design the collection  then the  samples are produced in the various regional British Factories from Scotland in the north, Nottingham in the midlands and Cornwall in the South.

We live here and are proud of the heritage of British Craftsmanship and proud to be helping to keep it alive.We wholesale our collections at trade shows such as ....PURE in London  where they were snapped up by many UK Independent Boutiques as well as by Liberty, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, Heals and Fenwicks as well as THE TATE .Premiere Classe in Paris _ ( the prestigious up market accessories fair in Paris ) and this has helped to expand and consolidate our growing Japanese market - such as Isetan and Ships.

How do you think your brand has developed?

The brand has developed and evolved our the years to become an internationally known label.We have always been true to our design phillosphy and our customers know that they can buy with confidence each seasonBeing a small independent company we are able to respond quickly to the economic climate for example at the moment we are selling more accessories than garments as our customers can still "buy into our brand" whilst riding the recession. 

What do you hate most about your job?

Having to chase customers for late payments ! We are still in a recession and it's hard work, banks are not always that sympathetic, finance and cash flows can be scary!

What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now? Past present and future.

PAST

Winners of the UK Fashion Export Small Business Award.

PRESENT

We are in our 2nd season of collaborating with the TATE  on a capsule accessory collection which sells throughout all the TATE SHOPS and their online shop. Quinton Chadwick are featured in the new global Woolmark Campaign - Merino No Finer FeelingSetting up our successful on line shop

FUTURE

Seasonal POP UP SHOPS

Develop more design collaborations

Expand into the American market 

Expansion of our on-line shop web site and facebook page.

What advice would you have for anyone starting out in your field?

We would always advise working for a company to gain valuable experience before setting up on your own. You need to be very determined with a very "can do attitude" Be prepared for a lot of hard work / late nights and serious knock backs as well as the fun and excitement of launching your own label and seeing it in the shops for the first time ! What a feeling.

IndependentBoutique.com is proud to work with British designers, why do you think British design stands out?

We start of with the very best grounding - our fantastic art and design schools  / universitiesWe show such passion, individuality and creativity .We are so proud of our heritage.We want to be the best in all we do and achieve and NEVER give up !