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My Fashion Life: menswear designer Lou Dalton

The London Collections Men designer on her love of Prada earrings, the harmonica and why she will never design for women.

Lou Dalton

Lou Dalton

Lou Dalton

Lou Dalton was born in Shropshire and left school at the age of 16 to take up an apprenticeship in bespoke tailoring and pattern cutting. She then moved to London to study menswear at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1998. This was followed by stints working for the likes of Stone Island, Iceberg and Japanese brand United Arrows, until she launched her own brand in 2005.

Why did you launch your own brand?

I always knew I’d have a career in menswear due to coming from a bespoke tailoring background where I used to make shooting breeches for the local gentry back in Shropshire. Then I used to consult for [Japanese brand] United Arrows and, while designing and producing a range of knitwear for them, I thought “what the heck, let’s sample up a couple of pieces of fair isle knits with lurex and fluoro yarns and see what happens”.

Why menswear?

It’s all I know. I left school at 16 ‎to take up an apprenticeship with a bespoke tailor, and this has very much been the backbone to everything I do. I love men and love the clothes they wear.

Would you ever launch womenswear?

No, I still have a long way to go with the menswear, I don’t need another distraction. I’ll leave it to those who do it well.

Lou Dalton autumn 16

Lou Dalton autumn 16

Lou Dalton autumn 16

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

You can [decide] your working day time-wise along with when you take your holidays, but that also has a downside as you tend to never stop working‎.

And the worst?

Cashflow and being paid on time, it’s a ball-ache. Fashion ain’t for the faint hearted, it’s tough but can also be incredibly rewarding.

You’ve done several collaborations – why?

Collaborating allows you to reach a wider audience and demographic, which can then in return bring a new consumer to your brand. We’ve been fortunate to have collaborated with a variety of companies – some that have been ‎purely geared towards the Lou Dalton brand like Grenson, John Smedley, Woolmark and Lanificio Cerruti. Others are very much about designing for a particular customer and market in mind like our River Island, Jaeger and Topman collaborations.

Why did you decide to show your collections as part of London Collections Men?

LCM has been integral to the growth of the Lou Dalton brand. To have a platform like this here in London where I can show my seasonal wares during the international menswear calendar is core to the business.

What inspires you?

Most of what I do is inspired by ‎my past. I’m a sucker for a narrative and try to hone in on something from my past or something that’s had an effect on me over the years. To me, the narratives I try to portray within the collections are both personal and honest.

Lou Dalton autumn 16

Lou Dalton autumn 16

Lou Dalton autumn 16

What do you wish you could change about the industry?

The fashion industry is tough, it’s always been tough and likely to get even more so over the next couple of years. The constant need for newness and consumer greed is incredibly trying. Fashion to me is a luxury and should continue to be so, not so “here today, gone tomorrow”.

What’s the most treasured item in your wardrobe?

‎My engagement ring and a tailor’s thimble from when I first started out at the age of 16.

Which brand would you like to see come back that isn’t around anymore?

Romeo Gigli.

Which new designers do you tip for success?

‎John Alexander Skelton.

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

Upholstery.

Who do you admire most in the industry?

‎Miuccia Prada.

Tell us something not many people know about you.

I play the harmonica.

SNAPCHAT

Favourite clothing brands?

Prada, Dries Van Noten, Comme Des Garçons

Favourite places to shop?

Dover Street Market, Hervia, John Smedley, Labour and Wait

Last fashion purchase?

Yet another pair of Prada earrings

Biggest fashion splurge?

Yet another pair of Prada earrings

Last holiday?

Settle in Yorkshire – not really a holiday but an ongoing retreat

Last book you read?

Walking Away by Simon Armitage

Last film you watched?

Star Wars

First job?

Apprentice to a bespoke tailor

Dream job?

Working for Lou Dalton‎

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