What does Closet represent?
A girl who wants to be fashionable but not too trendy. The clothes are flattering and not too ‘out there’. There are three different Closet girls:
- Alice; a young graduate in her first job who buys the odd Closet dress for an interview or wedding.
- Charlotte; the social, working woman, who has an occasion every weekend where she needs a new dress.
- Suzanne; the yummy mummy, who wants to look sophisticated but fashionable.
Closet is a high street brand, made in London. Our clothes are affordable but we pride ourselves on great quality for the price. We have become known for our dresses, although this isn’t how we started out. In fact, very early on we were known for the fit of our trousers and georgette shirts!
What is your role as creative director?
I am involved in everything from choosing the colours, fabrics and prints and coming up with our monthly ‘stories’ or collections, to actually designing the clothes. I also fit all the samples and liaise with the pattern cutters to ensure we get the right fit and styling. I feel this is beneficial to the brand as I am a size 12 with curves, so have a woman’s body rather than using a stick thin model.
From being a pattern cutter in South Africa, what motivated you to move to London?
I had a gap year Interailing around Europe after finishing school. I loved living in England and wanted to stay. However, my parents enrolled me in a fashion design course to lure me back home! I trained in South Africa and worked there for a few years before moving to the UK and landing a job as a pattern cutter.
The brand has a lot of stunning prints, where does the inspiration for these come from?
I read mountains of magazines monthly and spend a lot of time trawling the internet for inspiration. During the fashion weeks I look at the collections on Style.com daily. As a team we go to Premiére Vision in Paris and look at the trend prediction forums as well as seeing all our suppliers.
In three days we see an awful lot of fabric—you do reach a saturation point but you always remember one or two amazing prints and these are the ones that will become the ‘Hero’ print of a collection. We then choose the other fabrics to complement the Hero print. We may even re-colour some designs to go with it.
Closet has established a successful wholesale and concession business worldwide. What international store did Closet first appear in?
Tangs in Singapore.
Give us a feel for your personal style and how Closet has influenced it:
My style is quite different from Closet’s, although I think Closet has evolved from it. Several years ago, I only wore dresses, I loved that you had an outfit in one piece of clothing and could just throw it on, using your shoes and accessories to change the look. Now I am more about separates; I like mixing and matching. I think I am drawn to funky pieces that I can mix with things I already have.
Recently the item I wore the most was a pair of leather track-pants that I got from the Wang x H&M collaboration. I do love shopping for new pieces but I aim to make them work with the rest of my wardrobe.
I hear you have a special skill for winning Prada heels in eBay wars. Any tips for us beginners?
I am a bargain hunter, which is why I love eBay. It is an amazingly competitive sport though. First you have to find the piece, then bid and hopefully win it and finally you get a lovely parcel in the post! It is so addictive.
I buy old Prada shoes that have hardly been worn. I set my limit at £50 and only bid in the last minute. I have recently found a sniping program that does it for you by bidding in the last five seconds, which is great, as with a busy schedule you don’t need to sit at the computer and wait yourself.
What’s going to be a hot colour to wear this summer?
Yellow! Actually I have a strong feeling for bright green but it takes about three years for a colour to ‘grow’ on us. So we will see flashes of bright green this summer together with khaki but next year I reckon it’ll be a big hit.
Where is your favourite place to spend a day getting lost in west London?
Although I live in London, I find it so easy to get caught up in one’s routine and not see much of the city. I now make an effort to get out and about at least once a month. I love going to the V&A to see an exhibition, having a coffee in Flat Planet near Liberty’s and then having a wander around the shops.
Last week we landed up in Selfridges at 7.30pm and it was pure bliss; the crowds were gone and we had the store almost to ourselves!
A piece of fashion advice that has always stuck with you?
Buy what you love, not what you think you need.