When I started thinking seriously about designing a range of girls’ pyjamas, one of the first steps for me was to start learning how clothes are produced. I don’t have a background in fashion or clothing – in fact, other than loving shopping, I knew nothing about either! The first few weeks of discovery were exciting and daunting. I had a gem of an idea that I believed could be successful, but how would I go about growing it?
I was initially advised that I needed to find all the people who played a role in the chain independently – going from fabric designer to fabric producer, pattern designer, pattern maker, sample maker, grading specialist (and I’m sure there are some I’ve missed along the way) then finding a factory to produce the finished item. And then when I found a factory, I would have to supply every element of the clothing to them to put together, for example thread, binding, fabric, tags. It felt like learning a whole new baffling language. The potential for mistakes along the way felt enormous! And that’s not to mention the time involved. I’m a pretty impatient person, and I just couldn’t start to imagine how long that would all take.
It reminded me of renovating a house – you can either source and then work with all the tradespeople individually, or work with a building company who then manages the whole process on your behalf, working with people they rate and trust.
That process seemed very sensible to me, much less risky and far easier to get started with. I found a couple of new childrenswear brands I admired, with founders who were happy to share their experience with me and talk through the process they had been through. That was incredibly helpful. They were open about what had and hadn’t worked for them – and their experience made me even more certain that I needed a partner if I was going to get my idea for The Girl Element off the ground. So, I then started to look for a production house. My aim was to find an expert in childrenswear who had established relationships with great factories, and could take me through the whole process from design to production. After a few phone calls and meetings, I met Fazane Fox and her team, who have been a fantastic partner on this journey.