I love clothes - and in recent years have started seeking out small brands who offer authentic, quality products - not sweatshop made clothes that fall apart in five minutes. Josef McFadden are a Scottish company who were founded in 2016 - and their bright, beautiful prints and strong colours attracted me to them immediately. My Josef McFadden bow tie seems to be worn at almost every formal occasion I go to, and my Autumn Gold Josef McFadden scarf is round my neck at the first sign of cold weather. Josef McFadden were kind enough to talk to ThePageisPrinted about their brand - and if the below intrigues you, please investigate their fantastic range of products at www.josefmcfadden.com
Firstly, thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview - as you know, I'm a big fan of the brand and am regularly wearing Josef McFadden - the autumn weather is perfect for my scarf! What's the story behind the brand - how was Josef McFadden created?
When I finished studying I had that moment I think every creative graduate has. Am I going to be applying for jobs? Moving down south for an entry level position, working for a big chain and churning out design after design. I had received a lot of positive feedback on my graduate collection and I felt like if I was going to start up my business, that was the moment. I started with my original print collection, Dark Floral Opulence, and took the dive into being self employed.
Who does what in terms of Josef McFadden - who is the team behind the name?
It’s just me. Which has been a learning curve. When I started I was only really thinking about creating new work and developing the brand. I didn’t think about book keeping, sourcing, retail sales, social media, or the other thousand things self employed creative brands have to do. I’ve been fortunate to have a group of friends who also started up their one businesses at the same time. We keep an eye out for each other and share skills as we learn them. I would love to grow Josef McFadden over the next few years.
Where does the inspiration for the prints come from? You're based in Scotland, but some of the designs have a definite tropical influence.
Colour is my main inspiration. I look for themes that I respond to when researching. I was really inspired by the Dutch Masters for my graduate collection. That was a lot of shadows and lots of dark moody tones. I think I had been looking at so many shades of black that when I came to design a new collection I was desperate to do a full 180 and experiment with some lively colours. I found tropical florals so vibrant, and it was a definite antidote to what was at the time a grey winter in the Scottish Borders. I don't know what’s next. I’ve done a lot of work over the past year for lots of different clients and it’s been a bit of a palette cleanser. I’m about to start researching for Summer 2018. It’s all very exciting.
Shopping with small and local businesses is something I've only really become aware of in the last few years - trying to find independent and sustainable retailers rather than bulk buying clothes made in poor conditions that swiftly fall apart! How important is it to you to be a brand with roots and manufacture very much in your area, and why would you recommend people to shop and buy from small businesses?
There are two points I always make here. If we want to have a vibrant economy with full high streets and no unemployment, we need to support small businesses. We need to support manufacturing. I hear time and time again people talking about how great it would be to have a flourishing textile industry back in Scotland. Industry needs investment. That investment is only going to come once people stop buying cheap clothes. This is not just about Primark. This is about people spending any amount of money in high street chain stores, who have their clothes manufactured for pennies. It makes it impossible for small business to compete. The other issue is the global implications of fast fashion. This is not news, but people really don't seem to care. We need education in schools so we can curb this habit. Let’s mend, make do, buy less and buy better.
You sell quality, sustainable products but at an affordable price point - do you think that people are put off buying quality clothing due to the supposed cost implications?
I really don’t think quality comes into the mix for the majority of young shoppers. It’s really all about look and hype. The culture of fashion we have landed in absolutely kills me. Having your own brand of clothing has become a stage in the product diversifying ladder for b list celebrities. The Kanyes of the world have, in one blow, destroyed the credibility of art in fashion and shrunk the space in the market for independent labels to compete in. People are willing to pay a premium for a t-shirt with an “11 degrees” logo because a reality star fronts it and they have capital investors who make it possible to saturate social media with brand promotion. Imagine what would happen if money was put behind young creatives? A massive issue is also the fact that small brands aren't in the faces of people when they are buying. The closest we have been able to get is ASOS Marketplace, but how are small labels supposed to compete with Topman and H&M? This is becoming a bit doom and gloom, but as label that is trying to grow, I have a lot to say about the current state of things.
The fashion industry famously moves hugely ahead of time in terms of planning and design. How hard is it to predict what will becoming next, and how far ahead of time do you have to plan?
I do trend research before I start designing, but in general I'm really not a trendy brand. I make prints that I like, which I hope means that other people will like it. We are not a fast fashion brand, so we design for longevity. Our knitwear is probably our biggest surprise. I’m a keen knitter, and made some hats for a market. I sold out, and decided to make more. I brought in colours that I believed would compliment our prints and before I knew it, they became our best sellers.
Lastly, what's next for Josef McFadden? Apart from hats of course, I'm very excited for those.
We are working on leather accessories and more knitwear. It’s an exciting time as we are starting to grow as a business. We are looking at moving into premises or perhaps even experimenting with some retail spaces.