Ones to Watch: Womenswear designer Charlie May

Tuesday, 29 October 2013
The final interview in our ‘Ones to Watch’ series with three London-based emerging talents is womenswear designer, Charlie May. A graduate of UWE, Bristol in 2010, Charlie set up her label a year later after working for designers Louise Goldin and Thomas Tait and has excited the industry with her signature minimalist, androgynous style.

FashionUnited sat down with Charlie to discuss the importance of showcasing at London Fashion Week, the impact of social media on new designers, her recent collaborations, and her plans for the future.

How long has your label been running and how would you describe the Charlie May consumer?
"I just did my fifth season which I can't quite believe! It's gone by so fast. I would say the Charlie May woman has an eye for good design, invests in leather pieces and garments that she knows will still be in fashion is years’ time. Loves tailoring, minimalism and texture."

How does your brand differ from other emerging labels out there?
"I have an emphasis on quality and minimalism with the focus being on the small details, it's the cut of the garment and the way it hangs on the body that sets it apart."

You’ve showcased your label at London Fashion Week for the past few seasons – why is it important for you to stage a catwalk show rather than just hold showroom appointments like many new designers?
"I did more casual presentations in the beginning, I just enjoy the excitement and the experience of putting on a show, mixing the music and finding the venue, you get to show a broader picture of what was in your mind for the collection."

What was your inspiration for your SS14 collection?
"I wanted SS14 to be really fun and so I started thinking back to my youth and growing up in Devon, the juxtaposition of growing up on a farm, being a bit of a tomboy in the 90s but then listening to the Spice Girls and running around in questionable lycra sporty spice inspired outfits."

Your own e-commerce site launched this summer – are you looking for ‘bricks and mortar’ stockists?
"Yes definitely. For me it was important to establish a strong online base because I have my blog that’s been going for 6 years and is more well known than my brand, it seemed silly to not have an online store. I am still interested in being in store, as it's important to be able to feel and try on the clothes - garments always look better in person than on a screen, but it is fun to do my own editorials and showcase the collection exactly as I want."

You have already partnered with Danielle Foster on a collection of bags and Hudson for shoes – can we expect further collaborations in the future?
"I love to collaborate with other like minded designers, and it was so much fun to work with shoes for SS14. Hudson were a dream to work with and I can't wait to have the limited edition shoes online in January!"

Many young designers look to schemes such as Fashion Fringe and Newgen, is that something that you are looking at to build your label?
"I think Newgen is amazing for young designers; I am looking to apply this season so fingers crossed!"

You have a very active social media profile – has having a successful fashion blog, Girl A La Mode helped you?
"Without a doubt, I never knew how useful it would be when I started it in university in 2008 but it became immediately apparent when brands and PRs started getting in touch. When I started my brand I could then get in touch with them. Contacts are the most important thing when you need to get the word out about your brand."

Where do you see yourself and your brand in a five years time?
"I see a global future for the brand; I would love to have an actual Charlie May bricks and mortar store in London as well as an even larger ecomms store."

Images: Charlie May / Charlie May SS14

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