We love sharing insights into the creative industry incorporating all aspects of design and innovation. Recently Editor Natasha had the pleasure to talk to Dennis Immanuel, Creative Director at Witty Muse on his inspirations and advice on starting a fashion brand and entering a creative career.
The Witty Muse concept
Witty Muse is an online marketplace selling men’s and women’s clothing and accessories from emerging and graduate designers. Their vision is to provide a platform that aspiring fashion designers can evolve into fully-fledged labels. Witty Muse’s mantra is “Follow Your Art” which symbolises that a true creative thinks and leads with their heart or more literally their art.
Dennis, what traits define you and what drives your passion?
I would probably say I am innately curious, I just love to learn, and leading and leadership is an area where I feel I am at my best. The pursuit of freedom is a common trait amongst most entrepreneurial creatives and I am no different. It can come in different forms of course, but for me, it is the freedom to tell stories that inspire people.
How did you get into fashion design?
I had some of my drawings on my dorm room wall at university I was actually studying Business. A friend asked me to customise his cap. Using felt tip markers I drew a picture of Sylvester from Looney Toons on his cap and suddenly everyone on campus started dropping garments off to my room for me to customise. I had a business running from my dorm with customers from all over the place and my passion for fashion was born. I set up my first fashion brand shortly after graduating.
Tell us where your inspiration comes from?
I spend a lot of time observing people and what they wear, I think about why they have made their sartorial choices and try to imagine their life aspirations, experiences and self-perceptions. All these things contribute to what we chose to wear and how. I then draw inspiration in how I style people or what to create. I also enjoy looking at historical cultures and figures and the role costume played in the evolution of fashion.
Do you have a muse you wish you could see wearing your designs?
My new platform Witty Muse is all about supporting ‘Muses’. I like the spirit of young designers because they create mostly from passion without the constraints of commercial pressure. It is fashion in its purest form in many ways. Besides that, I have a very classical interpretation towards creativity so I would say, James Dean or Ozwald Boateng.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your career?
I am very blessed that I have managed to do what I love and make it a career. The greatest challenge is the unrelenting challenges that keep popping up each day. It takes a special resilience and tenacity and you also need to enjoy your own company because it can be quite lonely.
What can we expect from you and your brand for 2019?
Witty Muse is planning a Popup shop in London late in the summer, we also have amazing new designers joining each month so it’s an exciting time.
How has your personal life influenced your career?
I have made a lot of sacrifices in my personal life in order to invest in my career but I have also had to reverse that process. A few years ago I took the decision to leave London and take some time away from my career to put some perspective back into my personal life. It’s a balancing act. But without doubt, my life experiences have developed those intangible skills such as persistence and mental strength which have made a telling difference in my career.
What was your greatest success in the past few years?
Just recently my Witty Muse won the Santander Enterprise Award. It was in a competition involving over 750 enterprises and start-up so to win an award was a massive achievement.
What advice can you give to aspiring designers looking to enter the creative sector?
I would encourage any designer to take some time to define their motivations. Passion is important because it is the fuel that will keep you going when the inevitable mistakes, delays and rejections come.
There are a lot of very useful support networks out there to learn and develop your skills as a designer and a business owner:
Common Objective is a network focusing on sustainability in fashion – found out more here: commonobjective.co
Collaboration is at the heart of any creative career so develop a strong network of peers. Check out: the-dots.com for more information.
Also, take a look at @outthebox
What is your hope for the future of the Witty Muse?
We want to harness and develop technologies that connect the next generation of designers with partners so we can produce fantastic fashion that is kinder to our planet. I hope it will eventually become a very connected and engaging shopping destination for people who want fashion that is rare, innovative and made with real heart.
Image credits: Photographer: Rob Inglis, Photo Assistants: David Kissman & John Perring