Meet Bruno Bayley

Bruno Bayley European Managing Editor at Vice. Vice magazine is a ‘global youth media company and the industry leader in producing and distributing the best online video content in the world.’

It began in 1994 as a punk magazine surprise surprise. But now it’s found operating in 35 countries. Targeting a generation that have turned their back on mainstream news. Whilst trying to keep the original tone the magazine began with. They’ve been working on improving the content and substance behind it.

It seems to be working as not only are they now the world’s main source for online video provider; they are also an ‘international network of digital channels; a television and feature film production studio; a magazine – wait for it – a record label. And last but not least they’re also a book-publishing division and are funded by advertising. Quite the repertoire.

Jack of all trades and it seems they’re mastering most. As the short talk went on we learned from a tentatively spoken Bruno that Vice were the first magazine to have spent 3 weeks with the Jihadist movement. “Reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.” Causing them the envy of all other news organisations and other ambitious reporters.

What was of particular interest to me was learning that Vice gained the British fashion publication i-D in 2012 and re-launched its presence at i-D.co. A known video-driven fashion site.

I then found an article written by Hannah Ewen ‘I dressed like an idiot at London Fashion Week to see how easy it is to get street snapped’. An interesting read I must say.

If you get a chance have a read: http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/lfw-street-style-bloggers-942

 

This talk was delivered at the University of Bedfordshire

Meet Sara Melin

When you think of the name ‘The Poundshop’ cheap, basic and lack of quality come to mind. However I’m pleased to be able to say it’s not like that at all, far from it in fact. Here is their story.

The Poundshop was started by Sara Melin and George Wu. It was founded in the year of 2010 upon a discussion about the love for design shops. As recent graduates at the time, the humorous suggestion of setting up a poundshop soon became a feasible reality.

Their laughter took them from mindless conversation to putting on an exhibition with the aim to create the first design poundshop.

The method behind this novelty idea works like this. All products chosen must cost no more than 50p to make. And as they began with products that cost no more than a pound.

The respective designer takes 90p leaving the company with ten per cent of all the takings. Pretty decent strategy.

It allows the company to experiment with brands in their variety whilst leaving them with minimal risk of small scale production.

From advertising products no more than a pound. The company have since progressed to introducing brands selling products within the more affordable price bands of five to ten pounds.

In an age where technology grows and more and more brands establish their online presence, it made sense that The Poundshop would follow suit.

But being a poundshop brought its problems. Running online was proving to be more expensive than the products they were selling.

Imagine this. At the time, they were only selling products that cost no more than a pound. So picture this situation. You pay a pound for a product, but have to pay £10 for postage and packing.

Doesn’t sound so cheap and cheerful anymore, does it? I know the brand stemmed from laughter but I’m not too sure their customers where laughing at that.

However they quickly moved on from that, running with the idea of being a company known for its pop up stores.

They were picked as one of Selfridges ‘Bright Young Things’ – a project that sifts out and promotes the most exciting young creators in the UK. In 2013, they were also awarded as one of the top five creative entrepreneurs on the h.Club100 list, so kudos to them.

 

This talk was delivered at the University of Bedfordshire

Meet Philip Wright

Philip Wright has been running his family business ‘Walter Wright’ manufacturer for over fifteen years. The business was made in 1889 by his parents Walter and Minnie-Susan Wright in Albion road, Luton. What I found quite remarkable was the Wright family have been involved in the making of quality hats for over 300 years. That’s a long time. It also makes Philip one of the oldest bloodline hat manufacturers. No pressure there.

But of course Philip hasn’t been alive for all 300 years so he joined in 1982 and was able to transform the company. Modernising it making it relevant to the 21st century. Before this he studied at London College of Fashion and received training under Madame Marie O’Regan.
The factory have been making felt and straw hats for centuries; though modern and exotic fabrics and trimmings are sourced across the globe to produce quirky and timeless hats. They certainly know what they’re doing; maintaining the traditional methods, quality and craftsmanship of the family’s heritage.

Philip however, designs for individuals, films, theatre and television. Throughout the talk he showed us examples of different hats and how best to wear them if going for a certain look or event. His quirky nature definitely helps when selling the concept of a design or idea, so as you can imagine supplying large and small department stores and boutiques worldwide, isn’t much of an issue for him. All designs being inspired by private customers and friends.

Though he didn’t discuss this in the talk, through further research I discovered that, in 1970 a fire totally destroyed the premises at Albion road. The grand interior of Luton’s first custom built factory was totally gone and destroyed along with historic machinery and artefacts. Despite the tragedy, Walter Wright continued to trade whilst occupying small premises until the original factory was refurbished.

I’ve always admired hats on other people, though not much of a wearer myself, I’ve always thought them to be quirky and quite simple ways of adding a touch of sophistication to an outfit or personality.

I definitely learnt more about than I knew about how hats are traditionally made not to mention the various types and shapes you’d be surprised to find. His talk was a humorous and insightful presentation of his work.

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This talk was delivered at the University of Bedfordshire

Meet William Hendry

William Hendry for Mary Katranzou

‘Arresting, interesting, Katranzian’

William Hendry is the Head of designer of Womenswear at Mary Katranzou. Just as he was finishing his MA at Central Saint Martins he got an interview with Mary Katranzou which of course went well. His talk was really informative and gave a good insight to how they work at Katranzou, how he works and who he is.

It’s common knowledge that digital print was revolutionised by Mary Katranzou and I have long been an avid fan of her work. So hearing that William would be giving a talk was simply amazing.

Now the way they work at Katranzou is that they have a show collection which is very over the top, very ornate – semi couture. They then have a commercial collection which is a dissimilation – still a lot of artwork but on simpler easier shapes such as; sweatshirts, shirts, puff dresses, gowns, shift dresses, jackets and so on. Lastly they have the resort collection which is a lot more about garmentation – presenting a finished product.

‘Making a detailed garment without any detail’

One thing he said early on when talking about his BA collection verses his MA collection as that his BA collection was his attempt at trying to please everyone and other people’s expectations – he got a 1st for the degree but ended up hating the collection. That’s because it wasn’t necessarily what he wanted to do. Learning from this he went on to do his MA with the mentality of pleasing or satisfying himself rather than others. As a result he created a collection he loved which was based around bonding fabric together – seamless in presentation and production, no fastenings or stitch. A collection that focused on techniques that helped him in the job he then got with Mary K.

‘Satisfy yourself’ after all it’s going to be your name on it

Through his presentation he went on to talk us through the collections they had gone on to do over the years, how they were made, inspirations and the thought process behind them. What happens is all the pieces you see in a collection will have been designed by Mary but in a collage form. They don’t necessarily look like the finished product, as a lot of development goes on, but every idea will have stemmed from the initial collage.

From the first collection he did which was unbelievably complicated because – you know – it’s Mary. To the most recent collection SS16 which was ‘based on intergalactic gypsies going to Spain’. Basically a collection ‘based on where you go in your aboriginal dream time’.  He is constantly trying to push himself to learn more, do more and just keep the mind stimulated.

Their first Resort collection is when they started doing three seasons a year rather than two –
They got a new member of staff in the design team so they did a new season – naturally

One thing he likes about collaborations – which he learnt during Mary K’s collab with Moncler was that collaborations present an opportunity to learn something that you didn’t know before. It shows you how ideas can be disseminated in different ways. To illustrate this point – he was on a trip to Istanbul and whilst on the train he happened to notice a woman wearing a t-shirt with an illustration of an Mary K dress he had designed. He took a picture but of course he didn’t tell her that. The point though is to always be observant of your surroundings as inspiration can come from anywhere. In his word ‘it sort of just happens’.

Another example, they did an SS15 collection which featured quite a few pompidou dresses. Carolina Gonzalez who runs the Walkabout Foundation; a charity which funds research to find a cure for paralysis and donating wheelchairs to people in need around the world; saw and loved the ‘cake a flake’ and ’ivory’ dresses from their Fall 2012 collection and some necklines in their SS13 collections. She requested for a one of a kind based on those to be made for her wedding. Thus was born the first ever Mary Katranzou wedding dress which Carolina wore the whole night till 7am the next morning – a sign of a very good wedding dress.

So it’s safe to say that continuously working with different materials is better than just sticking to what you know. For Katranzou it is essential otherwise boredom encroaches.

Another example of this is their Spring Summer 13 collection. They design banknotes so you can’t replicate them for forgery – so naturally they decided to try and replicate them. So they created a collection that had ‘punches of black to soft pastels with banknote swirls’.

The next season they decided to not do any colour – William wanted to create a collection that looked like it was evaporating into the air around it which is impossible – his words not mine. So where fabric is limited you then introduce ideas through set design and lighting to help achieve the overall look of evaporation. To do this edges on garments were pulled so there was no definitive line so when in motion they move accordingly. With this collection they also started looked at doing things in embroidery rather than print as people were getting too good at it and they wanted to create something that could not be easily replicated.

Autumn winter 14 was the first season they did without print they are constantly trying to look at different techniques, presentation and fabrication. Looking at how they can put their own spin on it and make it Katranzian.

This brings me to the last point:

‘Always think to yourself what is it about what you’re doing that makes it different to others OR is it really the same but you’re just doing it a lot better’

William knew he wanted to be a designer from the age of 7. He would try and dress his mother and sister who often rejected his suggestions. So decided to design and sell clothes to people who would wear them.

He is constantly researching, reading and looking at anything to do with garments even to how Hilary Clinton only wears trouser; to how David Cameron didn’t do his tie properly; to how Jeremy Corbett had his button undone – whatever it is he’s interested. His ultimate goal is to reach a point where he knows everything there is to know about clothes.

His talk left me with a lot of food for thought, he encouraged us to think about who we would be as designers if we had our own brands – who would we want our work to be next to? Where would it be presented, a rail or mannequin, ready to wear or couture? I also learnt that William loves the colour navy and he hates mood boards ‘I can’t work with them I find them very scattered’ – a man after my own heart.

Another thing he hates is when designers are asked – who is your woman? Then they reply she is a strong confident woman who knows what she wants. His response to that “Come on really? Where are the clothes for women who just aren’t feeling great. Where are the clothes for people that kind of just need that reassurance”. Safe to say he is a designer with your best interests at heart.

Top tips:

  • If you ever want to design shoes, design an ankle boot with a two inch heel – it’ll always sell
  • Find out what you like and don’t like – though think about why you don’t like something as that will tell you more
  • Find images of things that you just like whatever it may be – inspiration is everywhere
  • Working with something that you don’t necessarily like can stimulate something that you didn’t even know
  • If you’re going to do something – do it to the absolute best that it can be done.

 

This talk was delivered at the University of Bedfordshire

Meet Quinton Chadwick

Quinton Chadwick is a knitwear and accessories company who have been around for 15 years an specialise in a lot of heritage garments. As well-established British brand they are a two person duo with Jane Chadwick delivering today’s talk her partner Jess Quinton away on business.

‘Designed in Britain, Made in Britain, Worn Worldwide’

Their USP above describes their brand to a T. They aim to make heritage garments with a modern twist whilst using traditional techniques and knit. The business decision to establish themselves in Britain – strictly using manufacturers, wool and in house knitters all strictly based here. This helps to give them a strong brand identity and is something that has benefited them.

Jane Chadwick mentioned that she feels their customer base has definitely evolved in their knowledge regarding the products they buy. Having a customer base that care about what they wear pushes Quinton Chadwick to make sure that they know where all the components that make their up their products come from. From where they were made, where they have been to the conditions they was made under – all those things because they want to continue to deliver to a customer base that really care about their purchases and the brands they invest in. It is because of this that they really strive to design things that last, buying items to keep forever and because of this they have to be high quality and as a result high end in price.

‘One season per year brand’

Also when it comes to design they tend to design in sets as it one creates a story for those pieces and also sells a lot better. They find people tend to lean towards co-ord pieces.

With their design process their research and development involves looking back at past collections which is important for design consolidation. It helps to keep brand identity, their handwriting and continuity within their collections.

‘The fallacy that you sell more if you do two seasons a year isn’t always true’

Seeing what’s selling best helps to know what styles work well with public taste and allows them to see how they can further develop past styles whilst keeping in mind up-coming trends.

One thing I found very interesting that she mentioned when talking about their design process was that they rarely use illustrator for their designs. She found it tends to slow them down and liked going back to the traditional process of using pens and paper with different materials.

‘Don’t design things you don’t like’

Being a one season per year brand allows them to produce 100 styles a season. Once they have finished selling the collection they are free to design the next one whilst promoting the last.

Taking a closer look to their designs they often have three to four design qualities to a piece that separate them from high street names. The detail, quality and style is what gives their products a premium feel and is what makes it a designer product – not just the price. High street brands cannot afford to put such care and attention to detail to their mass produced products.

All in all it was a good talk, the designs are rich and clearly of high quality so it’s easy to see why they’ve done so well.

 

This talk was delivered at the University of Bedfordshire