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Victoria Holt

 

Fred&Ginger

 

Victoria Holt has only been in business for two years but she’s already exploring every possibility of building her brand. Over the past 18 months the Fred&Ginger London line has launched a Bridal Lingerie Collection, an online boutique, developed a men’s underwear line and is carried in Selfridges. How has this young women manage to create a brand in such a short time?

Victoria Holt graduated in 2000 with Bachelor of Arts (honours) degree. Victoria specialised in fashion design and technology with print. Following her graduation Victoria worked with Jenny Packham as senior designer for over 5 years. From there she decided to take a year out to travel the world solo, taking inspiration from the 15 countries she visited whilst simultaneously developing what was to become Fred&Ginger London!

What is your fashion background?

VH - Fashion is in my blood; with one grandmother being a milliner and the other being a seamstress. My mother grew up in the 50’s and was incredibly chic as a young woman with style reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn (my icon). She also designed and made clothes for myself and my sisters as children. Thus with such an interest in Fashion & Art and Design it seemed only natural to pursue a career in the fashion Industry. I graduated with a BA (hons) fashion degree from Nottingham Trent University and immediately took up my position with Jenny Packham.


Do you feel working as the Senior Fashion Designer for Jenny Packham has helped in establishing the Fred&Ginger label?
VH - Absolutely, on many levels! I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without having worked for Jenny Packham. For a start I felt too young and naïve on leaving university to set up on my own despite already having a desire to do so. University does not set you up for running a business unless you do a business degree. I learnt more about the fashion industry during my work experience of 6 weeks than I did in the 3 years on my course. I would definitely say work experience is essential! I also wanted to travel the world before committing myself long term to a business.
When I started working for Jenny the company was small, with only 4 full-time employees. This was so beneficial for me as I managed to be a part of every side of the business from research, designs, sales, PR and touching on production. Experiencing the running of a fashion business year on year was invaluable to me.
I worked up to my position as senior designer; a role that I took on just as we started to show on the catwalk at London Fashion Week. These were very exciting times and really took Jenny to another level and it was great to be a part of that. After 5 years of working for Jenny I felt that it was time to do it for me! Working for Jenny Packham was invaluable experience for me and these days I am delighted to regard Jenny as both a close friend and mentor.

bridal

VH - Fred&Ginger was initially funded through family investment and we currently receive grants from the UK Fashion Exports (UKFE).

Do you have a business partner or business mentor who helps you with key decision making?

VH - I am the sole owner of the company however; my father is the primary investor. Having run his own very successful company for over 25 years he is more than an inspiration to me and a fantastic mentor, he of course has a distinct interest in seeing where his money is going! I also see David Jones, fashion consultant on a regular basis and Helene from the Portabello Business Centre. They all give invaluable advice and encouragement on a regular basis.

You have just taken on a PR, how important is that to a small business and your success?
VH - We recently took on Forward PR to take care of press for us which has been absolutely invaluable and a great investment. As a small company we have so much to do and press is something that you need to continually push, which we do not have time for here. Brand awareness not only helps your current stockists to sell your product but also helps with bringing in new stockists and encourages hits on your website thus more sales.

PR = BRAND AWARENESS = SALES = MONEY

Having said that it is important to find the PR Company that is right for you. I have been stung in the past. Your relationship with your PR is key. Remember they are the face of your brand so they must have the right image and personality. Forward PR are perfect for Fred&Ginger!


Are there fashion organizations that have helped you develop and progress?
VH - I take on as much help as possible, you cannot be a member of too many organizations and clubs as far as your business is concerned. If there is an organization that I can get involved in that will help in the progression of Fred&Ginger then I’m there! I am a member of the following;

Fashion Business Club
Portabello Business Centre
London Apparel Business Centre
Business Link

They’re all great for networking, courses advice, etc…

How is Fred&Ginger funded?

VH - Fred&Ginger was initially funded through family investment and we currently receive grants from the UK Fashion Exports (UKFE).

 

lingerie


You’re stocked in Selfridges. That’s a big deal for any designer. How did that come about?
VH - Selfridges…I know!! I am delighted to be stocked in one of the world’s most prestigious stores! Being stocked there has launched the Fred&Ginger brand into the lingerie market worldwide. Suddenly everyone takes you much more seriously.
I simply approached them out of the blue. I had two meetings over the course of a year and finally they took me on. As a store they are at the cutting edge of fashion so they’re constantly on the look out for young up and coming designers with a fantastic brand and quality product. If they believe in you and believe that your product will sell they’ll take you on, simple as that.


Where do you source your fabrics and where is Fred&Ginger produced?

VH -  Our fabrics are sourced from France using 100% silk chiffons, silks and Chantilly lace. Cottons from the UK and jerseys from Switzerland are used for our menswear collections. We also produce our own prints every season, which are digitally printed in the United Kingdom. We produce here in the United Kingdom, which is so important to our brand. Benefits include keeping a close eye on quality, saving thousands of pounds on shipping whilst also supporting our local and skilled workers, not to mention the environmental and ethical benefits. Of course buyers love the fact that it’s made in the UK, especially those abroad.
What is your best-selling item?
VH - We are known for both our vintage inspired lingerie and negligee and although expensive, our negligee pieces are very much in demand, especially our teddies and French knickers. They have an incredibly flattering fit and are impeccably made with love (as it says in the label) using French silks. Worth every penny!

Does offering a men’s line gives you an edge over other lingerie brands?
VH - Men have been forgotten when it comes to underwear despite the fact that it is so important that they look and feel good! There is a huge niche for quality designer men’s underwear and Fred&Ginger are filling it! Our marketing images stand out a mile as we are offering a lifestyle brand catering to both partners!

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