The accessories designer tells Marie Davies how she will fly the flag for UK business through her new British Fashion Council role.
You have joined the British Fashion Council (BFC) board as a non-executive director. What will your responsibilities be?
The BFC aims [to] foster emerging talent. The role requires me to attend meetings quarterly to discuss how to further promote British fashion abroad and to talk about the twice yearly showcases at London Fashion Week. I hope to bring with me a depth of knowledge of promoting a British brand abroad as well as the experience of starting out as a new business. I can’t wait to get stuck in as it is something I feel immensely passionate about.
You’ve also just been asked by Prime Minister David Cameron to promote UK trade abroad. What will that role involve?
When I’m on business abroad, I’ll offer help to promote UK business by hosting events and meeting people. I’ll also relay back to the Government my thoughts and ideas to promote UK industry.
What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenges in the domestic market next year?
VAT increasing might have an effect, but mostly it’s about being innovative with product and reading your customer. There is still a big market to win.
You set up your accessories brand aged 19. Was that difficult? The biggest challenges were trying to work out how to produce my designs, and how to navigate all the paperwork you have to deal with, from specialist invoicing requirements for large department stores to the forms you need to fill in to export python skins. Sometimes even changing the toner in the photocopier can take a whole morning when you are a one-man band.
Do you think it’s become any easier for designers to set up their own business?
The internet means people can have an online shop without huge capital risk, which is amazing. In clothing there are a few more flexible UK manufacturing options that can make a huge difference in terms of duties, minimums and currency risk.
One of the most iconic Anya Hindmarch bags is the I’m Not A Plastic Bag eco tote. Where did that idea come from?
It came from an approach by We Are What We Do [a social change charity]. One of its aims was to try to reduce plastic bag consumption and I had a light bulb moment and realised I could do something to make a difference.
What trends do you anticipate emerging for autumn 11?
I think autumn 11 is all about detailing, which we have interpreted in our own way with simple clean designs but, for example, with an exquisite shagreen [a type of leather made from shark or ray skins] tassel on a bag.
What can we expect from Anya Hindmarch in 2011?
I’d have to kill you if I told you that, and that would be sad just before Christmas.
What is your proudest career moment?
Going to Buckingham Palace to be appointed an MBE.
How do you relax away from fashion?
Friends, dinner and a glass of wine.
Who is your favourite designer?
Bella Freud (jumper pictured).
What item can you not live without?
My diary, which runs my life.
Anya Hindmarch is founder of the eponymous accessories brand and a non-executive director at the British Fashion Council