PALMER & HARDING

Published by Elise Parkes on 16-Oct-2011 Fashion

Why did you get into fashion?

It was all rather accidental. With everything that was happening in our lives, fashion just seemed to fit!

What are the hardships of starting your own project & what have been your main ups & downs?

Start-up costs were the main issue encountered whilst creating our brand. Fortunately, both Levi and I work freelance for a major high street brand as consulting design directors and this has enabled us to launch the label. It is very easy to get into lots of debt if you are too headstrong at the beginning. By taking things slowly we are able to manage the growth and enjoy each stage that bit longer. Working together and the creative freedom that we share is definitely a positive. I would not say that there have been any real down points so far. Yes, the hours are long and the work is hard but that is the price we are willing to pay for working in an industry that we enjoy and motivates us every day.

What was your first brand experience & how did you progress from there?

One of our first experiences as a brand was being nominated for the ANDAM award in Paris. At this time we had been thinking about how we wanted to form our label and make it recognisable. This is when the idea of focusing on one single garment, the shirt, came about.  When ANDAM happened it really gave us the confidence to build on our ideas. The support from BFC, Topshop and NEWGEN has been incredible. With all that is taking place, it is hard not to rush, though we are trying to progress in an organic way. As young designers, there is still time for our label to grow and improve.

In a highly competitive and fast paced world of fashion what has been your main worry when taking on the industry?

Trying to keep everything manageable is our main focus. By concentrating on one key item, the shirt we are able to produce garments of the highest quality and best fit at a realistic price. Trying to do all areas at once (womenswear, accessories, shoes...) was not an option if we were to achieve such high level of quality.

Have you worked on any particular jobs that specifically were of main interest to you?

Our current consultancy work as design directors of the men’s and women’s team of a high street brand has been very interesting. It has given us a different perspective that we didn’t have at Central Saint Martin’s, London. Both experiences have helped shape our opinions.

Every designer has a sense of style or a recurring theme and follows that feel through their imagery and final outcome. What is yours?

The idea of a recurring theme is something we try to avoid to remain innovative and interesting. We want to break the mould of young designers who are known for one idea.  Who wants to be creating the same sort of dress for their entire career?! Our only constant is our initial theme of reworking the shirt. Of course there are nods to the MA collection in our upcoming SS12 collection, but that will be all! Our collections will always be emotive and confident with a touch of finesse.

Who or what has been your main inspiration as designers?

Levi: A dear friend in Dallas called Jan Strimple. She was a model in the 1980s and walked for names such as Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin. Jan has always been a great source of inspiration and knowledge.

Matthew: Looking at the works of Alexander McQueen when starting out my education was what got me excited about what fashion could be.

Do you aspire to move into the direction of the inspiration or do you use it as a starting base?

No, we move in our own direction.

Coming up with something new, is obviously hard, but is the new factor important to you, or would you prefer working on something that’s currently ‘fresh’?

As long as we are visually stimulated and the work is exciting to us, we will be happy. We don’t want our work to stand still or become too expected.

Are there any projects you are working on?

We are currently working on our Spring Summer 12 collect.

Which do you prefer working on, womenswear or menswear?

Both!

What do you like in fashion & what do you dislike?

We admire people who make an effort with their personal style and in contrast dislike people who do not.

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