We love sharing insights into the creative industry incorporating all aspects of design, especially innovative fashion brands. Recently Editor Natasha had the pleasure to talk to Clare Quartermaine, founder and designer of vintage-inspired fashion brand The House of Foxy on her inspirations and advice on starting a fashion brand and entering a creative career.
The House of Foxy concept
The House of Foxy was founded on Clare’s passion of design from the first half of the 20th century – she loves the glamour and style but also the attention to detail and how clothing made women look and feel great. The House of Foxy designs are now bought worldwide by fans of vintage fashion but also by women who want to feel special. Much of the collection is made in the UK many with UK cloth, plus Clare sells wholesale across the globe as well as selling online. Pretty Retro and 20th Century Chap are also part of the 20th Century Clothiers vintage emporium.
Clare, please give us an insight into your creative/industry background.
My interest in fashion was there since as long as I can remember and I have always been a history buff. My career in it, however, is more recent. I ran a design agency for 10+ years delivering digital media, print and marketing services for other businesses. It was enjoyable but not my passion. My main hobby is researching and making historical costume both for living history and just because I love dressing up!
20th Century Clothiers was born from the experience of providing marketing and design services to so many different businesses and out of a growing confidence in myself and wanting to do something I actually love.
What was the main influence for starting your vintage brands?
A frustration at not being able to buy what I really wanted AND the lack of quality, style and inspiration from the high street. I thought – I will have to do this myself!
Why does your brand stand out in this competitive industry?
There are many wonderful vintage style brands that stand out in our niche market – and we all have our place. Like many – we certainly aren’t trying to push huge quantity at low prices. We’ve taken our time to develop the brands and the products carefully because we’re in it for the long term. We have looked to gain a following of people who want and like what we make.
It’s about good design and good quality.
Because I wear and love vintage anyway – I think I have a good sense of what people might like – I follow my instincts. It seems to work. Many in the fashion industry whom I’ve spoken with can’t get their head around my business model – but I don’t see much evidence that their way is better. We aren’t just about pushing units.
What has been the most challenging aspect when bringing your company into the industry?
It has been a steep learning curve – but the main issue was getting people to take me seriously. From fabric purchasing to pattern cutting – you need a variety of different skill sets from experienced people and they probably get a lot of time wasters. I don’t tend to have this problem anymore but it’s difficult at first. The same with trade shows – you have to fight your corner.
Do you have a muse you wish you could see wearing your designs?
I have a huge girl crush on Tilda Swinton – but I’ve not seen her wear much vintage style…so I think that might be a pipe dream.
What are the key trends that’ll we’ll see in the next few years?
Next year is 2020 – I think that will re-ignite the 1920s styles. But not just stereotype flapper – I’d like to see a more refined look.
What advice can you give to aspiring designers/businesswomen looking to enter creative sector?
Find a niche and go for it. Be prepared to pay for advice from people in the industry because that will stand you in good stead but it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect people to impart their wisdom for nothing. Get a little bit of knowledge in every part ie, do an intro course in pattern cutting, get some sewing training and social media courses.
What is your hope for the future of The House of Foxy?
Lots of plan afoot! I want to create some amazing evening-wear, more 1920s and 1930s, more coats. Plus, I’d love to take a small collection to the Far East.
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Top image credit: Unsplash