H&M’s print designer and trend forecaster Kelly Harrington on being an Instagram archivist and a street style aficionado.
Kelly Harrington is a jack of many trades. A print designer and trend forecaster for H&M, she is also a denim and vintage archivist who chronicles her finds on Instagram, where she has almost 40,000 followers. She spoke to Drapers about social media misconceptions and working with Matthew Williamson
How did you start your career? What’s your background?
I graduated from Loughborough University with a BA in print design in 2001 and juggled a freelance job, work experience and a paid job to get my foot in the door of the fashion world. At school, I was good at art and drawing, so it seemed like a natural process that I would do something artistically creative. Fashion is something I always saw in myself and I’ve been passionate about it since I was very young. I was always reading fashion magazines, going shopping at weekends or drawing for fun in my sketchbook.
How do you go about designing a print?
Designing a print from scratch requires good drawing, painting and CAD skills. I usually start by hand-drawing and painting my designs and then use the computer to change colours, scale and put images in repeat for fabric production. It can take a while to get the perfect colours or get the printing technique correct.
Do you have a favourite print you’ve designed while at H&M?
That would have to be when I designed the print for the Matthew Williamson Collection for H&M. I got to work closely with Matthew Williamson. He was lovely and it made the experience extremely memorable.
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What do you do to keep yourself inspired?
I attend a lot of exhibitions, go to trade fairs, and travel to gain insight into what the rest of the world is thinking. I’m lucky enough to travel often for work and I love exploring and finding new inspiration in the most unlikely places.
I get inspiration from a mixture of travelling, street style, exhibitions, listening to music and collecting vintage pieces. I can find inspiration in anything – a painted or graffitied wall or a colour combination on a food packet from Japan. Street style and the music industry, which plays an important part in fashion, hold a particular fascination for me.
I’m constantly taking photos. I’m normally 10 steps behind everyone else, snapping away on my iPhone.
How did you get started on instagram?
I got started on Instagram as it was a creative outlet to feed my own personal style and love of denim and indigo. It was a bit like my giant online scrapbook, and it grew from there. Now I work with photographers to shoot my own looks and collaborate with different brands. I love Instagram as it has enabled me to make friends and build relationships with likeminded people across the globe. I have gained so many opportunities and learnt so much and I’ve also met some inspiring, positive people.
What are the biggest misconceptions about the social media and fashion?
What you see on social media cut’s out all the hard work and graft behind everything. It doesn’t show the hours spent at airports and it never shows the bad side or the ups and downs. I’ve worked in the fashion industry for 15 years, and it took an incredible amount of hard work and determination to get to where I am now. It’s more than just shopping and attending fashion weeks, and 99% of the time it certainly isn’t glamorous.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice what would it be?
Take more chances and believe in yourself.
Favourite clothing brands
I adore the quirky Japanese brand Kapital, SJYP – a Korean denim brand, Prada, MM6 and H&M
Favourite places to shop
Tokyo in general, as shopping there is an experience in itself. The Rose Bowl Flea Market in LA, Liberty London and, online, W Concept.
Last fashion purchase
Tod’s blue velvet slip-ons and Levi’s Vintage cropped dungarees
Last film you watched
Hell or High Water on my trip back from Tokyo.
A promotion girl handing out chocolate and being a freelance perfume and make-up girl at stores like Jo Malone and Selfridges.
To be a cartoon voice over as I have a voice like Minnie Mouse.
How you unwind
Reading, relaxing and chilling out! Enjoying a late breakfast, of poached egg on sourdough toast or salmon and scrambled eggs.