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Madeleine Thompson

The knitwear designer’s label started with a beanie made in Hong Kong and was given a boost by Sienna Miller.

Your brand focuses on relaxed, off-duty clothing, so what would we find you wearing on the sofa watching TV?

I’d be dressed head-to-toe in my cashmere, of course. I’d probably wear one of my A-line jumper dresses, with a pair of cashmere leggings and some slippers. If it were cold, I’d wear one of my wraps - they’re heavenly.

Why is quality cashmere so important to your brand?

There is a lot of Chinese-produced yarn in the market and the hand feel of it is inferior to the quality of the Italian product. The massive rise in demand for the cashmere yarn processed in Italy has really put pressure on the Mongolian goat herders who produce the fibre, and this demand has become unsustainable.

Your brand is stocked by retailers such as Net-A-Porter, My-Wardrobe.com and Selfridges, but where are your favourite places to shop?

I’m renovating my house at present and have become obsessed with homewares. I love etailer Korla for geometric fabrics and the wallpaper on offer online at Turner Pocock Cazalet. In terms of clothes I love shopping in independent boutiques: Bernard Boutique in Esher, Surrey, TeaCup in Hampstead and Iris in Queen’s Park, London, are all favourites.

You have some celebrity fans - how important is this to you?

We sell to two key stores in the US, among our other stockists: Barneys in New York and Ron Herman in Los Angeles. A lot of celebrities in the US buy our collections from there [such as stylist Rachel Zoe and actress Michelle Monaghan] - and the website goes crazy when they are papped. It has really helped us build our brand awareness and is becoming increasingly important for any brand.

What’s next for your business?

We are starting to build a presence in China, which is exciting. The possibilities there are endless. Our Japanese stockists are selling the product well and this is a market we are interested in developing further.

We are also working on collaborations with both Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason for autumn 14.

You used to be a buyer for Lane Crawford and Seibu in Hong Kong, so why did you make the jump to the other side of the fence?

I couldn’t find a beanie I liked and got a lady in Hong Kong to knit one for me. People started asking where to buy it and I got her to make some more and sold them direct. Sienna Miller bought one and I was inundated. At that point I made the jump and had the confidence to go at it alone. That was six years ago.

What’s the best thing about having your own brand?

The relationship you build with stores and their buyers. When you work hard to develop a collaboration with a retailer there is nothing more satisfying than seeing it fly off the shelves.

What has been your career highlight so far?

The success we are seeing on Net-a-Porter has been phenomenal. Also at [New York trade show] Coterie last season we had a queue out of the booth to write orders, which felt pretty good.

If you weren’t working in fashion, what would you be doing?

I trained as a lawyer, so I’d potentially be working in law.

What was your biggest-ever fashion splurge?

I’ve just had a baby and couldn’t resist a beautiful Isabel Marant broderie anglaise dress when I was about seven months pregnant - totally unnecessary but it got me through the last two months.

What one fashion trend do you wish would disappear?

Shoes that have a wedge that shouldn’t, like trainers and wellies.

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