Evo­lu­tion of a brand

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - STYLE -

TAK­ING on a widely-known, epony­mous Bri­tish brand and evolv­ing it into a highly de­sir­able, in­ter­na­tional fash­ion house with con­tin­ued ap­peal for its loyal cus­tomer base isn’t a job to be taken lightly. But hav­ing joined Karen Millen as de­sign di­rec­tor in 1999, Gemma Mether­ing­ham knew where to start – with a move.

“Mov­ing to our ate­lier in Shored­itch was a big step to­wards putting crafts­man­ship and qual­ity right at the heart of the Karen Millen brand,” said Mether­ing­ham, who is now the brand’s chief cre­ative of­fi­cer.

“And our new lo­ca­tion was the per­fect place to ac­cess and nur­ture the best new and emerg­ing de­sign tal­ent in Bri­tain. Plus, fash­ion’s all about in­spi­ra­tion, so it doesn’t hurt to be based in Lon­don’s hottest post­code, sur­rounded by the most cre­ative peo­ple and places in the cap­i­tal.” But that was just the be­gin­ning. Mether­ing­ham and her team have al­ways been firmly com­mit­ted to in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion, and build­ing boldly on early suc­cess, Mether­ing­ham has over­seen un­prece­dented growth. The Karen Millen brand is now one of Bri­tish fash­ion’s most suc­cess­ful ex­ports.

Today, Karen Millen trades in over 50 mar­kets across six con­ti­nents, with stores in cul­tural and fash­ion cap­i­tals around the world. Over 60% of the brand’s sales now come from out­side Bri­tain. Its suc­cess has won Mether­ing­ham plau­dits from her peers – she has been com­mended in Draper’s Top 100 Peo­ple In Fash­ion, while the Univer­sity of Hert­ford­shire re­cently awarded her an Hon­orary Award and Fel­low­ship.

You don’t get growth like that without the right prod­uct, so Mether­ing­ham has al­ways been to­tally hands-on.

“I’m ab­so­lutely in­volved in ev­ery step of the de­sign process,” she en­thused, “from the sto­ries that shape each col­lec­tion to the prints, fab­rics, cuts, but­tons and trims that fin­ish it. Without our prod­uct, we don’t have a brand, so I’m never far from the ate­lier.”

Like most fash­ion cre­atives, Mether­ing­ham doesn’t re­ally do down time. She al­ways finds in­spi­ra­tion in the cul­tural high­lights around her, whether it’s street mar­kets, ex­hi­bi­tions, up-and-com­ing tal­ent, pop-up restau­rants, the the­atre or, sim­ply, a good read.

Cel­e­brat­ing cre­ativ­ity: Gemma mether­ing­ham, Karen millen’s chief cre­ative of­fi­cer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.