Design Splat | Interviews with Awesome Designers and Creatives


Posted May 9th by Design Splat in Fashion, Fashion Brand, Fashion Designers, Fashion Label

Today is the start of Fashion week on Design Splat! Thank you all for being so patient and waiting for the next feature to be put on Design Splat, the wait is now over and we have some fabulous interviews for you! Today we have Xander from Emi. Emi has been featured previously on Design Splat with their jewellery collection Click Here to read that interview. Emi is an ethical collection which focuses on eco-friendly products.


Hello and Welcome back to Design Splat Xander!

Tell us a bit about what you do and your brand:

Since our first interview, Emi has come a long way and a lot has changed! (Including the site name!) we are now At the time of our first interview, I was working part time as an allocator/junior jewellery designer for the brand and was working alongside a merchandiser and a buyer. I did decide to leave the brand as, as much as I loved my job – I wasn’t earning enough on a part time wage.

Around 2 months after I had left, I realised that I had made the wrong decision, so decided to come back with my tail between my legs! I came back fighting, and was full of new ideas about how to push Emi forward even further. I then started working on a line of clothing made from Lycocell which is a lot more eco friendly to produce and hold its shape better than other fabrics such as acrylic. Since I rejoined, the brand is in the middle of launching its premier clothing range…which is designed by me. We are now working with a new team of people and everything is set to look great! We have just showed our exclusive collection at The Spring Fashion Show in Manchester, and worked in partnership with Oxfam as part of Fair Trade fortnight week 2011.

Where did the idea for your come from?

Emi was born from a group of people who all shared the same interest – changing the way people saw ethical fashion.  After a lot of consumer research, we found that people associated ethical/fair trade clothing as unstylish and ill fitting. We wanted to create a brand that smashed this idea to pieces and had the best interests at heart of the factories and people we worked with.

What type of clothing?

I have designed our 2011 clothing collection for the modern day woman. She will enjoy power dressing and yet have a playful side to her. The collection takes little inspirations from Asia and features subtle detailing. The collection consists of 8 pieces over 6 outfits.

Who is your target audience?

Ladies who are in their late teens to late forties can wear my designs.  Our jewellery collection is very universal. We design for women of all ages. Our customers range from very early teens to the late seventies. Although, one of my favourite customers was a little old lady we met at a weeklong show we attended in 2010 in Wales. She bought one of the large disc necklaces in white from us. Later on, she whispered to me “see, I am still trendy and I am 83!!” She was adorable.

Do you have your clothes in any stores yet?

We are in discussions with 2 boutiques in Wales. are a confirmed stockist as well as another online ethical boutique (which we can’t actually mention at present!)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Well, last year when you asked me this question I said in 5 years I would have my clothing line out…so I had better set myself a higher target! Haha. In 5 years time, I am hoping to have been made a buyer in my current job. I also work as an Assistant Merchandiser in head office for a large sportswear company. I am gaining as much experience I can at a “real” head office before I make the jump and run Emi on my own!

In 5 years, Emi would have achieved a strong online following. I used to think we would have our first high street store but I now realise this is more like in 10 years time. I believe we will be stocked in a major high street concession as well as more smaller independent boutiques around the country and over seas.

Anything big planned for your collection of clothes? Anything else being added?

Yes, I am currently working on a recycled line of clothing which I am looking to be introduced around spring of next year. I have already finished off one cotton dress which will feature in the spring 2012 collection and have almost reached a decision on a few items to be included in the new recycled clothing line.

As for this year collection, we are sticking to the capsule 8 piece collection. As it is our premier collection, we don’t want to go over board and design masses and masses. We want to keep it simple and test the market.

How do you rate yourself as a fashion designer?

On the ethical side, I would give myself an 8/10. There are always more procedures that can be introduced to a brand (such a carbon off-setting or becoming BAFTs certified for example) but all of these things take time and money. Obviously, as the business grows – so will my score as a designer! I am my own worst critic; I always believe I can go bigger and better at everything I do; it’s how I manage to keep myself motivated all of the time.

In your eyes what makes a good fashion designer?

I genuinely believe it’s not all about the qualifications you may or may not have; you just have to know what you want and be prepared to work really hard to achieve your goal. When I was 16 I knew I wanted to be at head office, when I was 19 I left my old job and started on my career to get here. It then took me 4 long years – but I did it.

Do you think the Fashion industry is difficult to break into?

Hell yes I do…unless you’re lucky enough to have your parent’s filthy rich who will pump cash into moulding you as a designer, then it’s a piece of cake! I however, I wasn’t so lucky and have got here by sheer determination. I still buy my lottery ticket every week which will fast track me into opening the shop..!

What do you think it takes to become successful in the design industry?

You have to really know your market, building customer confidence in your brand is key…and willing to work 100 hours per week, while living out of a suitcase is pretty standard.

What to you is the most important aspect of creating a garment, the planning, design or implementation and why?

Everything is equally important. You could have great design skills, but then fall down on your sewing. Or you could have everything made perfectly but then style the item wrong or create a look book that doesn’t compliment your brand very well. Each stage I find goes hand in hand.

For me, I work out everything beforehand; the collection, the styling, the campaign, where it will sell. I make sure I have a clear path of what I want and how I want it to look before I go ahead with the collection. For our 2011 clothing campaign, I had over 200 models apply and I had to narrow it down to just two to a very tight specification I had in mind…but, it was all worth it. The planning can be more important that the actual design of the garment!  Emi is sold as a brand. The brand has to be right, before the customer will buy.

What drives you/give you the ‘go’ to keep at it and do everything?

As bad as this may sound, no one in my family has been a big achiever really; I am determined to make a success of myself. I have built up everything on my own and have got to where I am today by myself. Just to think, I was on my own at the age of 16, I could have gone down the route of “oh life is not fair” but I won’t allow that to happen to me. You only live the once, so you have to make the very best of it. I want to be at the forefront of ethical fashion and create a brand that will last for years, and years to come, long after I am gone!

Does fame attract you?

No, it doesn’t. I want people to know my name and what I am part of, but not necessarily who I am.

Where does your inspiration come from for your designs?

I look to the Far East for inspiration. No one does fashion and style like the Japanese. I research trends on South Korean websites, and I follow Japanese blogs so I always know what is happening in Asia.

Where can we buy your clothes?

They will be on sale on the Emi website from around Late April/Early May. Keep an eye out for stockists coming soon via Facebook & Twitter announcements. Our Spring ’11 jewellery collection launched 7th Feb and is online & in-store now. Our winter jewellery collection will be launching later on in the year.

Three words to describe yourself?

Creative, outspoken & I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Hobbies and other interests?

I love to paint free hand, and I enjoy tobogganing and exploring abandoned buildings! I really like trying to find out the history of a place and always wonder why it closed down. I like creeping myself out as well, especially if it’s a dark corridor you have to go down!

Favourite Fashion Designer?

I don’t have one. I just go for the look of the garment and not the label!

Favourite trend this season?

Layering, I have always been a fan.

Tools of the trade?

You need a strong cup of coffee and learn to grow a hard skin. Just because you love what you have designed, it doesn’t mean that the public are going to love it. Some of the jewellery I have had in my past collections, I thought “great they are going to be sure winners” – only to find out they die a death and fall flat on their faces! If you are passionate about what you are doing, then go for it. Only you can hold yourself back!

Any Tips or advice to share with aspiring designers?

It’s not all about what qualifications you have, it’s not about how much money you have, it’s about setting yourself a goal and actually going out there and achieving it. I have been homeless, almost bankrupt and have had to move away from all of my friends and family but, I am still pushing forward for what I want out of life! You have to have a “can do” attitude and be very self motivated. As Emi grows so does my passion for the brand, I now have people contacting me to work with me, and I have even spotted a few of my designs on TV. It’s such a great feeling knowing someone out there loves what you have made.

Nothing can stop me now, and it shouldn’t let it stop you either!

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Here are some photos of the Emi collection:

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