Advised against launching with a large collection, it was in the second week of January 2011 that I briefed my superb Australian pattern cutter on a limited range of about 10 garments. We intend to produce garments to couture quality for our demographic. London Fashion Week getting in the way, it was at the beginning of March that we had our first fitting. A revelation, great to see some product at last however this also revealed my less than perfect skill at briefing and my lack of empathy with jersey as a fabric. We reduced the number of designs and divided production into two phases.
The choice of fabrics loomed, a huge hurdle to overcome. I desperately need more education around the subject. So I enrolled on a course to be held in September by the London College of Fashion. This will culminate in a visit to Premiere Vision, a leading fabrics fair in Paris, however September is a long way off. More immediately there was to be a fair held here in London, Textile Forum on South Moulton Lane. I had been assured it was accessible, I was doubtful knowing the age of the building fabric in the area. Sure enough I was unable to get onto the pavement let alone the two steps up to the front door or the flight of stairs to the fair on the first floor. A stair lift had been provided, but as I am unable to stand and the man with the key was unavailable, two gallant, strong men carried me sitting in my electric wheelchair all the way up and later down, I would love to thank them. By attending this small fair I started in a tiny way to unravel the puzzle of where to source fabrics in this country. I emerged inspired by the fabrics I had seen this inspiration built on by visiting Selfridge’s the same day by seeing the fabric used by Design House of Stockholm. A great day.
We recut the patterns and toiled again. S/S 2011 was slipping away. We held our second fitting in the middle of April. Based on this fitting I finally jumped, buying fabrics and trimmings, organising dyeing for some, washing to prevent shrinkage and ironing for others. I had another invigorating day when the label sample arrived.
Today I sit here awaiting the third toile to allow me finally to let slip the sample machinists of war. After that it’s organising styling, modelling and photography before installing on a finished website.
Before that there is a lot of work still to do what with loading content onto the web skeleton, sourcing delivery options, registering for VAT purposes, working out the categories of garment which should be zero rated for tax purposes, sourcing packaging and ordering the wash care instructions. These are just the known unknowns I’m sure there are many more unknown unknowns. (Shakespeare was okay but I never, never thought I’d quote this man)
Choosing to reflect it seems to me that there are more positive than negative aspects that linger. I treasure the inspiration I have found, and apart from resolving never to go there again I do find that I have lost my appetite for food. I have hardly any interest in eating which does take away one of life’s great pleasures. I can live with that, but I do now empathise with people to whom the very sight of food turns their stomach. The thrice weekly visits of my two feisty carers, an extraordinarily ugly stairlift clogging up our hall and the weekly visits of the wonderful district nursing service team seem to be the only visible reminders of that horrible 2009.
However I do now find myself the immensely proud owner of a company, XENI planning to design, manufacture and retail online clothing for women who use wheelchairs and for women who have problems manipulating buttons and zips. I also now plan to retail jewellery for women who have problems manipulating those fiddly clasps on jewellery, without however, finding anybody to take on this task.
All in all this is a happy interim report ……… …. but what does fate plan next