Fashion Magazine

The Art of Blending Textures

By Lesassorties @LesAssorties

Following a decade working in sales, Claire Andrew decided to explore her creativity that had “always been in the background.” Graduating with a Fashion Design degree at the University of Wales in 2011, her first collection was sponsored by Rowan Wools and gained critical acclaim from renowned fashion websites. Andrew soon established her own label securing sponsorship from the Fairwood Trust and the Bright Ideas Den, while in February 2012, she staged her first show during London Fashion Week gaining attention from press and stockists worldwide. This was only the beginning of a promising future. Read on as Claire discusses her shift to fashion design, her experiences so far and her collections, which combine innovative knitwear, print and relaxed tailoring to give a modern feminine look, making her company stand out.

Claire Andrew SS15 1-1

How did you decide to shift from sales to fashion design?

It seemed to evolve rather than be a snap decision. Creativity was always in the background in some form. Close friends had studied Art, Graphics and Fashion, so I had always felt at home within a creative environment. Alongside my career in sales, there was always something I was working on aside work that reflected my love for designing. I started working with a local tailor in 2007, and this coincided with having pieces made, initially for work. Things continued to evolve, following a course at the London College of Fashion in 2008, and then onto a Fashion Design Degree later that year. My experience in sales and account management has been invaluable as there has been a balance between creativity and business.

Claire Andrew SS15 1-1

Claire Andrew SS15 1-1

Claire Andrew SS15 1-1

How would you describe the experience of your first show?

Exciting but part of the journey.

What is your favorite fabric to work with?

That is a tricky one but it would have to be Taroni silk zibeline – actually, pretty much anything from Taroni! (Taroni is one of the oldest silkweaving mills in Como). There is something about working with a beautiful fabric that makes the final piece just right. How the fabric feels is so important; I always want the fabric to feel great when wearing it, so all the senses are considered.

Claire Andrew SS15 4

Claire Andrew SS15 5

Your online boutique includes knit, print and leather subcollections. What makes each collection special?

Being able to wear alone or mix them together depending on your own style. Contrast and texture has always been at the core of the house as nature is often an inspiration. So, even if we are looking for an overall minimal look, there is always likely to be a number of textures at play.

Tell us a few words on your latest collection.

Spring/Summer 2015 was quite heavily inspired by the feeling of summer – swishing golden fields, movement, golden sands, the feeling of warmth, reflections, insects that appear (the print was created from close up photography of dragonflies). There was also an influence from Egyptian images becoming a contrast of organic movement against graphic precision.

Claire Andrew SS15 6

Claire Andrew SS15 7

In what ways have you grown since the launch of your first collection?

Being able to edit and make decisions very quickly enabling constant motion forward; remembering to celebrate when things go well as it is easy to remain focused on what it still to be done to achieve long term plans; not to be too hard on myself as I can be a bit of a perfectionist – I think I’m still working on that though!

What is the most valuable lesson the fashion industry has taught you?

Be true to your own vision, always be grateful for advice but ultimately make your own decisions. Only saying “yes” to what you truly think is right for your business. Loving the business and creativity is equally important.

Claire Andrew SS15 8

Claire Andrew SS15 9

Claire Andrew SS15 10

How important is the feedback from the press and the buyers for a new designer?

Extremely important, as long as you retain your own voice and accept that some will love what you do and others may not. Considering how all comments can be viewed constructively is useful.

What are your future plans?

To create pieces that are covetable and that we are genuinely excited about, increase the number of places our customers are able to see them in the press and connect with them at boutique level. We would also love to see an accessories range in the coming season and, at some point in the future, a scent.

Claire Andrew SS15 11

Claire Andrew SS15 14

Images © Ryan Welch for Claire Andrew

Model: Caitlin Heal

claireandrew.co.uk

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