Designer Interview

By: FashWire
Jan 26, 2024 11:13 AM

When did you know you wanted to become a designer?

I studied a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design many years ago, as my passion has always been in creating worthwhile clothing for women and men. I specialized in Knitwear as I loved the idea of creating a garment from scratch, designing the product, constructing the silhouette and shape, and then knitting the whole garment, usually either in one piece or fully fashioned. I have worked in fashion for over 25 years, gaining valuable knowledge and understanding of what our consumer requires through sales, product development, and how to bring a brand to market. Design has always been in my blood and has been the driving force inspiring me to manage brands outside of my own collection.


What inspired you to name your brand?

The ethos of my brand is to create a ‘foundation’ wardrobe; a capsule collection where consumers can use my collection as a basis for then creating their own look using my pieces and either their existing wardrobe or adding new designers to the mix. Therefore, the name CNCRT is an abbreviation of CONCRETE, where concrete, as a material, provides foundations for other materials to build upon. London was added as we are London homegrown, and this is where I live.


What did the beginnings of CNCRT LONDON look like?

We spent a lot of time researching what this capsule collection would look like, so we carried out an extensive analysis of best-selling knitwear styles, your everyday V-neck and crew neck, your go-to sweater dress, your relaxed and active pants, and so on. Research showed that the V-neck, for example, was the bestselling shape overall, hence we created our Hayward V-neck sweater. We then wanted to create a collection that had ethical values, so we researched the best quality wool (New Zealand and Australia produce the best quality merino wool) and the most sustainable factories; our factories in Italy provide this wool and it is dyed (with non-chemical dye) and spun in solar powered factories that recycle the water used and is put back into the nearby lakes. We then researched how can we reduce material waste and sourced a fantastic factory in the UK that creates seamless garments.


“CNCRT London sets out to provide everyone with clothes that last; investment pieces for the future, slow fashion, not fast fashion, as every year, 100 billion new garments are produced so to make room for them, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is landfilled every SECOND!”  


Where do you find inspiration?

We take inspiration from our planet.  


What made you want to design timeless, staple wardrobe pieces?

As part of our market analysis, we discovered that 70% of what is kept in our wardrobes are our staple shapes; timeless pieces that will last the test of time, mix in with new styles/pieces, and are our go-to favorites when you want to dress with confidence. I also run a fashion agency and when we sell our brands to retailers, 80% of their budgets are spent on everyday pieces that are worn and 20% on fashion-forward pieces. This gave us the confidence to create our own timeless, staple wardrobe pieces.  


What sets your brand apart from the rest?

Although what we do, in terms of style, is not groundbreaking, we create core staple pieces (and we do believe that all nine of our styles will fit into any wardrobe) and we add unique details to each piece to make it exclusive to us. We offer longer cuffs, to accentuate slimmer arms, longer ribbed hems to cinch in your shape below the knee, five-rib raglan shaping at the top of the sleeve, design detail around the neck and side, and balloon shape sleeves (our polo neck sweater dress) to create a more comfortable fit on the arms. Our sizing is generous, and we offer sizes from XS-XXL.


How would you describe the style you aim for your brand?

Effortless, affordable luxury that will last in your wardrobe!


What brand values are most important for CNCRT LONDON?

Sustainability is the core of what we provide. Ethical shearing of the sheep so they are not harmed when sheared, spun, and dyed with non-chemical dyes in sustainable factories and knitted using the Shima Seiki art of knitting, which is knitting the garment all in one piece so there is zero waste. We have also partnered with Ecologi to plant trees for every purchase. CNCRT London sets out to provide everyone with clothes that last; investment pieces for the future, slow fashion, not fast fashion, as every year, 100 billion new garments are produced so to make room for them, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is landfilled every SECOND!  


What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?

Research, research, research! There are thousands of brands out there so you need to research who your customer is, what region they live in, if your brand is ethically focused, and how you can create a robust plan for the future of your brand. 


What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

Before launching CNCRT London, I was Managing Director/Commercial Director of various fashion companies such as Wolford, D Squared, and Armani to name a few, so I fully understood what it took to grow a brand with the right demographic. I helped to launch various brands into their home markets as well as analyze what other markets would be successful for them. I led a passionate team of people, nurturing them and helping them to understand that a brand cannot survive without knowing their consumer.  


What was the toughest circumstance you overcame when just starting your business?

I was consulting for a sustainable brand when COVID-19 struck. Everything shut down and many buyers were put on furlough, so they were not able to continue working in their existing arena. This was when everything changed for our economy. I decided to create my own brand from a desire to ‘pause’ fashion and think more environmentally and consider looking after our planet for future generations. During these days of lockdown, we had more time to think more consciously, and I, especially, became aware of the need to help consumers buy more consciously for themselves, for comfort, but also to give back to our planet. During the launch, I had a successful first season launch, but then we went into lockdown again, and again, and this crippled many companies as they were not able to survive this as retailers were not able to take in stock as they were already overstocked with pre lockdown stock. It was a very tough time for all of us.


“Investment pieces that will remain in your wardrobe to hand down to younger generations. Effortless style that doesn’t need to shout fashion but shouts affordable luxury.”


How important is sustainability to your brand? What sustainable measures has CNCRT LONDON taken to better the environment?

It is key to our growth. All our colors are non-seasonal and best sellers so they can be worn for years to come. We do not sell fast fashion; in fact, we are slow fashion. We plant trees for every purchase made and use non-mulesed merino wool and other sustainable or natural materials. We use non-chemical dyes and we do not overproduce. We manufacture in small factories that produce waste-free garments and all our packaging is recyclable.


If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?

Travel! I wish I had taken some time out to travel before I threw myself into my career.  Understanding and appreciating all cultures makes you thrive as a person, and I would have loved to have traveled across the Far East as I am hugely influenced by their culture, fashion, and lifestyle. I am actually taking time out next year to visit Japan and I am sure this will influence my next capsule collection!


Do you have a passion other than fashion or design?

I love the Japanese art of Ikebana flower arranging. I took a course in this and then produced these for Christmas presents for some of my family last year. I also love watching independent films with my 15-year-old son who is going to film school next year.


What should consumers expect to see next from CNCRT LONDON?

As my collection is based on slow fashion, I will introduce only a few new styles and focus on new colors for my existing styles. I am in the process of shooting my next campaign incorporating men and women as I sell to both, and will hold more pop-up shops in London, UK, to meet my consumers. I also have a growing consumer base in the USA so plan to visit New York in the coming months to participate in pop-ups there. Watch this space! 


What is the most important thing you would like your brand to be recognized for?

Reducing landfill waste by selling clothes that are made to last. Investment pieces that will remain in your wardrobe to hand down to younger generations. Effortless style that doesn’t need to shout fashion but shouts affordable luxury.