Charlotte Demos’s fashion heritage inspired her to launch contemporary womenswear label Outline.
With a family history in fashion, it is little surprise that Charlotte Demos decided to launch her own label, Outline, in March 2017. Focusing on high-quality, timeless pieces for fashion-conscious career women, key styles include satin gowns, body-contouring dresses and tailored jumpsuits. Demos’ family have been manufacturing private label pieces in London for more than 30 years, working with high-end brands such as See by Chloé and Moschino, and high street brands including Marks & Spencer, Next, Asos and Arcadia. The brand has 20 stockists, including Harvey Nichols, Hoopers and Wolf & Badger, and wholesale prices at Outline range from £45 for tops to £130 for dresses and. Drapers speaks to Demos about growing up in the fashion industry, her inspirations and the brand’s growth.
What was it like growing up in the fashion industry? It was exciting! When I was young I would visit the factory in Finsbury Park whenever I could. I would sit and make buttons with my favourite coloured fabrics. I would pin fabrics to mannequins pretending to make a dress – nine times out of 10 it would be a bold sequin number.
How did you get into fashion? I come from a third-generation fashion-industry family, so I was naturally drawn to seeking a formal fashion education, which I received at Istituto Marangoni in London. After graduating, I freelanced as a stylist for about two years before inevitably joining the family business in 2007, all the time knowing that I wanted to create my own brand. After a decade of designing and manufacturing womenswear for the British high street, a combination of timing and market opportunity provided the perfect platform to launch Outline in 2017.
Why did you decide to launch the brand? It became apparent to us that there was an opportunity to fulfil a gap in the market for the fashion-conscious working woman who has an innate hunger for newness. The Outline woman is looking for high-quality, timeless pieces to complete her functional wardrobe.
How did the family business background in manufacturing help get the brand up and running? First and foremost, our experience in manufacturing – from high-end to high street brands – and our knowledge and experience in fabric sourcing [was a big help]. We travel to Europe and the Far East constantly sourcing and developing new fabrics.
Where do you design and manufacture product? Our design office is in Camden, London. We manufacture in both London and Romania.
What makes the brand unique? The brand is driven by quality and the attention to detail. It’s all about the journey from ordering an item to receiving our beautiful packaging and our premium quality. We have flexibility as we own our own factories and have longstanding relationships with fabric mills, so we are able to deliver affordable luxury pieces at great price points.
How would you describe the brand? Contemporary, considered and directional. It is intelligently designed, beautifully crafted and refuses to compromise on quality. We deliver premium day-to-night, feminine and considered outfit choices for women of all ages.
How important is social media for the brand? Aside from product, social media is probably the most important part of the brand. It’s the biggest communication with the customer in terms of keeping her up to date with newness and driving brand awareness.
Where do you find your inspiration? We are constantly searching for the new. Most of the time it all starts with fabrics. We always lay out the colours for the season, which dictates the overall mood.
What challenges have you faced? The biggest challenge we have faced is launching a new brand where the market is soft, because of politics and retail discounts.
Where do you see the brand in five years’ time? We would love Outline to be in more than 150 stockists and to have a flagship store.
What have been some of the highlights? Women wearing Outline, whether it be celebrities, influencers or the general public. We love seeing women wearing our satin gowns or architectural jumpsuits to an event – it makes it all worthwhile.
How do you keep yourself motivated? When new customers discover the brand and they send an email telling us how much they loved a certain piece it is brilliant. We have had amazing customer feedback about our fit and quality for the price point.
Is there anyone in the industry that inspires you? One of the most inspirational women I know is Yasmin Yusuf [former creative director of Miss Selfridge]. I interned with her more than 10 years ago and she was one of the first people to say, “Charlotte, you need to launch your own brand.”
Yasmin often pops into the office to see how the brand is growing and is constantly filling us with advice and ideas from her wealth of knowledge in the fashion industry. She is always referencing catwalks from the early 1990s, and her archive of vintage pieces is incredible!
What one piece of advice you would give your younger self? Stick to your aesthetic and always go with your gut. Don’t compromise.
Favourite place to shop The vintage shops in Dallas are amazing
Last fashion purchase Isabel Marant cowboy boots
Last holiday Nassau, Bahamas
Last book you read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Last film you watched A Star Is Born
First job Interning at brand agency M&L Harris
Dream job Creative director, building a successful brand
What would we find you doing at the weekend? Unwinding from the crazy week