A celebrity following has helped put the spotlight on womenswear designer Kate Fearnley’s label, as she explains to Ali Fulton
What got you interested in fashion?
My mum was a designer and my grandma was a seamstress. I’ve been in the industry my whole life and I’ve seen the reality of it. I’ve always wanted to do this.
How did you create your business?
I worked for a few small companies as a designer but I decided to move on because I was at the right place at the right time. I had experience in design and textile manufacturing and it was time. I made the decision very early in my life that I wanted to do this. It was only three years between graduating and starting my business.
What is in the pipeline for spring and autumn 09?
We’ll be showcasing next season’s collection at Pure in London in February. For spring and autumn we are starting a Celebrity Styles collection and a Boutique collection. Celebrity style is a huge influence in today’s fashion and the collections reflect that. In our boutique, people come in asking for styles that celebrities are wearing. What we’re doing is creating a diffusion line with jersey because it works at affordable prices for every woman.
Has having celebrity fans increased your brand’s sales and exposure?
Some celebrities walk into shops and buy things right there, which is really nice. Fans of the label include model Katie Price and pop group Girls Aloud. We also work with the stylists of some of the X Factor contestants. Since we opened our shop in Middlesbrough we’ve had the chance to talk to the public, which we hadn’t had before. They give feedback and you realise consumers are excited and influenced by what celebs are wearing. They all look at the magazines to see who is wearing what, and that generates sales.
You are planning to move your production. Why is that?
Everything so far has been manufactured above our design studio, in-house. The reason we’re considering moving our production is that we’re launching a jersey collection and planning to expand. We will be looking abroad and in the UK for manufacturing, but definitely outside the studio.
What inspires your designs?
I like colour. I work with a lot of different fabrics and that excites me. Working with textures and colours in fabric gives way to strong silhouettes, and that’s what it’s all based on – finding that edgy colour or fabric and combining it with a feminine silhouette.
Have you considered setting up more shops?
Opening in London is something I’m working towards. It is one of the things I would love to do. As for more shops, I would imagine I could do it in Barcelona, where there is a similar vibrancy to London that fits in with what I do.
What makes your designs different?
I think that as a designer in the mid-market independent sector, I have to sell colour and use an edgy look on a feminine form. It’s different from what everyone else is doing but is still very wearable and attractive.
What is the best thing about your job?
I have a background in textiles and so pulling fabrics for the designs and producing them is great, I want to continue doing it. I’m the brand designer and owner but the creative side is what keeps me going.
Kate Fearnley is designer and owner of contemporary womenswear brand Kate Fearnley
Who is your fashion icon and why?
Lots of people inspire me, people who set their own style, such as actress Chloë Sevigny. There are so many beautiful people and dresses in the world, but there are only certain people that make those dresses look good.
The Connecticut-born actress is an edgy and feminine muse for Kate Fearnley’s collections.
A rebellious teenager, Sevigny moved to New York City and interned at beauty magazine Sassy. She quickly became a model and then an actress. Her flair for fashion led to modelling gigs including a stint for designer label Miu Miu.
A feature article in The New Yorker magazine named her the ‘coolest girl in the world.’ In 1995 she starred in docu-drama Kids, which set her on the path to stardom. She confirmed her acting talent with her role in Boys Don’t Cry, which earned her 14 film awards and nominations. Sevigny is as likely to wear vintage clothing as designer pieces, and was once creative director at directional US label Imitation of Christ.