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My Fashion Life: Anna Singh, co-founder of Chinti & Parker

8 chinti&parker aw17 1070 p

Chinti & Parker co-founder Anna Singh creates fun, high-quality knitwear for a customer she knows well

Anna Singh

Anna Singh

Anna Singh

Anna Singh co-founded the premium womenswear knitwear brand Chinti & Parker with her cousin, Rachael Wood, back in 2009, based on their desire for British luxury staples. Since they started out, the brand has shifted to creating bold, playful and statement cashmere and merino wool separates with an instantly recognisable aesthetic. Singh speaks to Draper about how the brand began and how it evolved to where it is today.

How did you get involved in fashion? What’s your background?

I owned a cosmetics brand called Pout, where I gained a lot of necessary business and marketing experience, but inevitably I moved into fashion, as I’ve always loved it best. I just needed to develop a feeling for what kind of niche I wanted to fill, and get a sense of what I was really inspired to create.

 

How did you come to set up Chinti & Parker?

Before we started the brand in 2009, I had just sold Pout and my cousin, Rachael, left Browns, where she was working, so we both found ourselves available to take on a new project. We reflected on the fact that we would often come back from trips to the US armed with T-shirts and other jersey-based luxury staples from brands such as James Perse and Vince, and thought that a UK-based label was missing in this sphere. Rachael and I get along really well, and we have the same taste, so we decided to do our own collection, but with more wit, detail and a British sense of humour.

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

What’s the story of the brand’s name?

It’s a variant of our Indian great-grandparents’ first names, “Chinti” and “Pakhar”. Family is important to both of us and we wanted a name that had personal meaning, as well as a ring to it.

Why did you decide to focus on knitwear?

Nobody at the time seemed to be doing fun, high-quality knitwear. Any pieces we could find in 100% cashmere were always the same classic shapes and colours, because traditionally that’s how the Scottish mills work. We realised we could use Italian cashmere and then found a family-run factory in Mauritius that was happy to experiment with intarsia, meaning we could work in motifs and unique colour combinations. We never looked back. We then expanded the “statement knitwear” concept to merino wool, cashmere blends and other yarns.

How has the brand has evolved?

We’ve expanded into full outfitting and ready-to-wear, and have generally become more experimental. In seeing that people really responded to the more fun, statement pieces, it’s given us a green light to let our imaginations go further, and launch cashmere athleisure, and also some interesting collaborations, such as capsule collections with [cartoon character] Miffy last year, and now with The Moomins, which launches today [9 August].

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Chinti & Parker’s Moomin collection

You focus on fun and quirky designs – where do you get your inspiration?

We like to focus on one motif each season that relates to the overarching theme of that collection. We’ll just naturally end up having a conversation if one of us has noticed something – be it a pineapple or a ladybird – that we think will look cool on a sweater. Inspiration generally comes when you least expect it to.

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

Chinti & Parker autumn 17

How do you and Rachel work together – is it very collaborative or do you focus on different aspects of the business?

We do work quite collaboratively, and always have lunch together, but I tend to focus more on the business development, financial and PR aspect, while Rachael gets more involved in the creative and ecommerce specifics because of her background.

How do you keep yourself motivated on a day-to-day basis?

It’s easy, because I just really love clothes and enjoy seeing how our designs resonate with the customer. It’s always interesting to later evaluate whether she is the type of woman we envisaged her to be.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since you started out?

I’ve learned that you have to constantly reassess your customer – who she is and what she wants. It’s so important to look at who is buying your clothes, as well as to keep innovating.

What’s one thing you’d want to tell your younger self?

“You’ll figure it out!!” I was a bit of a young control freak but, as we all eventually learn, you can only really control yourself.

 

Snapchat

Favourite clothing brand

Apart from Chinti, Chloé.

Favourite places to shop

Net-a-Porter, Matchesfashion, and the smaller shops along Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill.

Last fashion purchase

Marni sandals

Last holiday

Ibiza

Last book you read

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – unputdownable

Last film you watched

Personal Shopper with Kristen Stewart

First job

Retail sales assistant

Dream job

An architect. Naturally when you’re sensitive to aesthetic, as most people who work in fashion are, you can get very excited about a great building. I love Frank Gehry’s work

What would we find you doing at the weekend

Growing fruits and vegetables in the garden – I currently have berries, potatoes, carrots and beetroot

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