McIndoe Design’s Red Egg Sweatshirt, ideal for energising men and women’s days with a splash of colour.
Interview with designer Madeline McIndoe
Tell us about the business, how it started and what it stands for?
McIndoe Design was an idea that was realised after I came back from spending 7 months in South America. Having known I’d always wanted to own my own fashion brand and knowing that I didn’t want to create something serious, I created the brand inspired by the colours and creatures of The Amazon and South America. The logo (toucan), tone of voice and colourful prints were the starting point, and have developed into a brand that is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Producing fun, energetic prints that make people smile when they see and wear them is one of my main focuses – the UK is grey enough already, so it’s nice to be able to inject come colour into what people wear.
Another element that is really important to me is the use of natural, quality fabrics. As a trained textile designer, I’m really aware of the drape and hand-feel of fabrics, and the advantages of producing garments in natural fibres. They’re nicer to wear and more breathable. Getting on and off the tube at rush hour is bad enough without wearing a perspiration-inducing polyester shirt or sweater.
In terms of pricing, I never wanted to create a brand that excluded people with its prices – hence the reason I try and keep products at an affordable level, whilst reflecting their quality and design.
What do you sell and what sets it apart?
The gender-neutral prints are obviously the main focus of the brand. These are all hand-drawn by myself in my South London studio at the bottom of my mum’s garden. The brand definitely has a strong tropical flavour to it, but this isn’t our sole focus of inspiration. Past prints have drawn inspiration from everything from documentaries (Blackfish triggered the AW16 orca print) to food fads (our Protein Shake print, featuring eggs, cheese and shellfish). The characterful nature of the prints gives them personality and a playful feel.
Since the prints are quite eye-catching, I tend to use classic garment shapes to let the patterns be the focal point of the product, and keep them wearable. At the same time, I don’t believe in fast and throw-away fashion and so prefer to design silhouettes that won’t be out of favour next season, or look dated in a year. I hope that the people who buy my designs will continue to wear them again and again, not just for one season.
Producing fun, energetic prints that make people smile when they see and wear them is one of my main focuses and I believe the Egg Sweatshirt does just that.
Tell us about your personal journey in fashion…
I launched the business in June 2014, having no knowledge of how to run a company! With a background in Textile Design (University of Manchester, 1st Class Honours), my focus was definitely more geared towards the design aspect of the business.
Feeling frustrated at the lack of response from boutiques, and finding that lots of places were wary of stocking a product that was a bit different; I struggled to get my product out there. Through selling directly at markets and festivals, I met the owner of Sugar & Style, who offered me a rail in their new store in Brixton Market and subsequently Boxpark. Renting a rail through them I was able to access a bricks and mortar stockist and grow a customer base in places where there was a high concentration of my target customer, whilst being able to keep my prices at an affordable level for the customer and still turn a profit.
In April 2016 I was awarded a unit at Pop Brixton for a two-week residency through Lottery funded SomewhereTo, and throughout the summer continued to trade at festivals such as Latitude, Secret Garden Party, Glastonbury and Wilderness in a collective with other independent designers. This has grown us a small but loyal customer base, as I feel it’s important to provide the best service possible for every single customer we win. Bit by bit, we’re also growing our list of stockists, with Concept Store Y in Soho now carrying some of our line, as well as Hardtofind, an online Australian website that has helped us extend our presence across the globe.
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