She may have her own womenswear label, but Aimee McWilliams still loves designing for other companies and brands, she tells Leah Mennies.
You are involved in several ventures - can you take us through them? Guoman Hotels commissioned me to create a capsule clothing collection inspired by each of its hotels. I’ve also been doing consultancy work with cashmere brand Begg Scotland, and helping La Breva [a luxury Argentinean polo brand] with its brand identity. It is an English-owned company launching in Argentina next year, a polo club that will sell branded products all over the world. I have been meeting with a lot of the fashion houses too, and have done consultancy work for [luxury fashion houses] Louis Vuitton and Fendi.
Is it important, especially in the current economic climate, to be involved in a variety of ventures? It is, for a couple of different reasons. First of all, it’s a really powerful learning curve to have these specific or even diverse briefs. It brings out your creativity and your ability to satisfy your clients. It’s a very unique approach that all of these projects require. Running my own label and doing all these different projects opens up other doors, so fashion houses perceive me differently - it shows your versatility.
Is the role of the traditional fashion designer changing? Definitely. There’s an opportunity for designers to go through agents to do specialised types of work, which I think is a huge development. When I finished at Central Saint Martins College, I thought the only way to move forward was to take a job with one of the big houses or start my own label where you do shows, wholesale, production and manufacturing. I didn’t anticipate this coming - I have seen a completely different side by doing my own thing that I didn’t even realise was out there.
How do you see the fashion industry changing in the next five years? I am intrigued by how things are moving online, from online magazines to online communication. I also think people will have new attitudes towards what becomes available to younger designers. For example, I have recently decided that some of my past collections haven’t dated, and I want them up on the new site when it’s relaunched because people call the studio and ask if they can still reorder things from years ago. There are so many young labels in London which don’t have the scale of Louis Vuitton, Fendi or other large brands - and sometimes the pressure on a young designer to constantly produce on the massive scale that is expected can be such a strain.
What’s next for you?
I want to open a boutique. I’m discussing that possibility with various people, Guoman included. I’m even considering a multibrand concept, as
I admire a lot of my close friends [and contemporaries], such as Hannah Martin, the jewellery designer, and [footwear designer] Nicholas Kirkwood. I would love to have it ready for autumn 09, but at the moment I’m still at the early stages of talking to people, so no promises yet.
What is your favourite movie?
The Deer Hunter.
Where is your favourite place to shop?
Columbia Road Flower Market in London’s East End on a Sunday morning.
What is the most expensive piece of clothing you have bought?
I spent between £600 and £700 on a pair of Christian Louboutin boots.
What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
A fur and leather-mix jacket from my autumn 06 collection.
Aimee McWilliams is owner and designer of the eponymous womenswear label