Our final featured designer ahead of Wednesday’s Nightwalk SS14 showcase, Rachel McMillan, talks us through the importance of the British fashion industry, her design inspiration and route into the industry…
Hey Rachel! You emphasise on your website that all your designs are created or produced in the UK; how important do you think it is to support British designers and manufacturers?
I think it is important to support our economy and the talent we have local to us. I have been lucky enough to have had a lot of support and advice from other talented professionals in the UK and hope to give this back in return to aspiring designers/ seamstresses/ photographers etc.
I have made a point of setting up business in my hometown of Glasgow as opposed to moving with the majority abroad or even to London. If your work is good then people find you; it doesn’t have to be about where you are based. As a small business I have certainly found my best working relationships have been formed with the organisations where I have been able to meet with the owners/ employees in person and discuss business ideas that way. It is nice to put a face to the people you are dealing with and relying on to make your own business run smoothly! This may not be as viable as my business grows in the future but it will still be vital for me to meet the people I will be dealing with and ensure my garments are ethically produced.
Favourite item from your current collection?
The printed denim jeans!
What has inspired the prints used in your latest collection?
I had recently been to a talk about the importance of online presence and social media for companies and the massively growing world of technology that is rapidly changing and shaping our world everyday. This fascinated and excited me, however I believed such developments were taking away from people exploring talents, crafts and art forms. I have always enjoyed creating something with my own hands and the satisfaction that comes from this. I decided to explore the relationship between these two themes in more detail.
My prints then originated around a series of abstract artworks I created with ink and paint and a series of collages around the human form. I then photographed the range and digitally edited them all on the computer.
Which designers inspire you?
Balenciaga, Balmain, Haider Ackerman, McQueen and Chanel.
What was the most valuable piece of advice learnt during your internship at Felder Felder?
Accuracy, precision and hard work! When I toiled a dress 4 times with only millimetres of change after fittings it taught me that doing the job correctly and precisely makes all the difference. This was the first time I had worked within industry standard. When I saw my dress going down the catwalk at LFW it made it a worthwhile lesson! The internship also gave me the vital confidence to come away knowing I was more than capable of doing this for myself one day.
You have recently recruited an intern, how does it feel to trust someone else with your designs?
I have a few interns working alongside me in the studio as well as a seamstress. To be honest it is nice to be able to share some of the workload, I am quite laid back and want the girls to learn as much as possible and most importantly not be scared to use the sewing machine! My seamstress is a professionally trained tailor and is so confident in laying the material out, chalking out patterns and taking the scissors to it! I love it, much more creativity comes when everyone is working together.
How influential do you find events such as Nightwalk? Do you gain inspiration from other up and coming designers?
Of course, I am always inspired by other designers and love seeing how people work in such different ways. I have met many great connections through Nightwalk and other shows/ shoots I have done whether it be magazines, photographers, promotion companies etc. Events such as these are a fantastic networking tool as well, allowing me to publicise my work not only to the public but to all the other creative professionals and companies watching and reading about the event.
You sell your designs via ASOS marketplace; how important are global platforms like that for up and coming designers?
I think they are great for new designers as they give a proffesional and trustworthy selling platform for you to take off from. We are now stocked in Kissing in Traffic in London and will be expanding stockists over the next few months. I will soon only be selling via www.rachel-mcmillan.com and in various shops. This is taking into account the designer market I am aiming at and the price range for bespoke prints and designs.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years time?
If ‘RACHEL MCMILLAN’ continues to expand the way it has been since we launched then I am more than confident we will be selling to a worldwide audience. I would LOVE to design an exclusive range for the likes of Topshop or Urban Outfitters.
Describe Rachel McMillan designs in 3 words?
Bold, creative and individual!