We all know, fashion is not just about creating something to wear, it is about creating an idea. And today I want to present on the blog a creative mind behind the couture brand for women, named Roanne Othman The owner and designer Roanne Othman is a powerful combination of passion, beauty and knowledge, she is aiming very high and is a great role model for young designers. Enjoy the interview!
Please introduce yourself. Where are you based? What is your educational background?
I’m Roanne Othman, Managing Director & Designer at my own couture-for-everyday womenswear brand. I graduated from the London campus of Istituto Marangoni, the Italian fashion and design institute, and am currently based in Istanbul.
Do you think you have always been interested in designing clothes?
As far as I can remember, my passion started around the age of seven. Although I took the decision at a very young age, I didn’t let it distract me from the other subjects at school, to which I paid equal attention. In fact, during my teenage years, I even developed an interest in the political history of 20th Century Europe. So I consider it an obsession of a healthy kind.
How did your fashion adventure begin?
When I was seven, I often watched MTV. It was before YouTube, back when MTV was more about music and less about reality shows. I was very much intrigued by the costumes that were purposefully designed for music videos and the music award shows. I obviously couldn’t find similar costumes in my size so I drew them instead, and changed them according to what I thought looked better.
Those musicians were trendsetters at the time, and those trends lasted longer than those of today. Today, trends can disappear within the same season in which they are set!
How long have you worked as a designer?
It’s hard to tell since I’ve been doing it on an on-and-off basis for so many years but I dedicated my time to my brand in December 2012, after I left my job in the energy sector, in which I had worked for three years. But practically speaking, I never stopped being a fashion designer.
What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
It’s hard to remember!
How did you manage to launch your own fashion line? What were the biggest challenges?
I invested my salary from my previous job into this venture. The biggest challenge was to come up with a business model that worked. To this day I continue to tweak and improve it.
As important as marketing is for a business, I am committed to allocating the largest investment in the fabrics and production to maximize the quality of the collections.
On the other hand, perhaps contrary to how other designers may feel, I never saw being the designer as well as the business developer as a challenge. I enjoy multitasking and dealing with all aspects of the business.
Tell us about collections.
My brand creates limited, couture-for-everyday collections produced by professional Turkish tailors. The fabrics are often European. Each design is produced as a single piece per size. We sell four sizes: Extra Small (34 European), Small (36 European), Medium (38 European) and Large (40 European).
In order to be a proper designer you need to manage a team. How do you convey what you want to your team? How does that work?
As Inge Geerdens, founder of CVWarehouse, said very rightly: if you want a partnership to flourish, it needs to be a win-win. I follow this principle in dealing with my team, and that’s the first step of building an ethical fashion business.
On the technical side, since I have dedicated my full time to my brand, I have been lucky enough to be closely involved to monitor the entire post-design process.
I personally purchase the materials for the collections. I create and submit digital technicals and silhouette examples of the designs to the tailors. I communicate directly and often with the lead tailor. Each design is rehearsed, altered and modified until we reach our target.
Where do you find inspirations for your designs?
Inspiration hits me in different ways, and it can come at any time or place. My inspiration could be kicked off by a colour, a texture, a shape, a fabric or even an occasion.
For example, when I get ready to go somewhere, I sometimes imagine the perfect piece for that occasion or place, however I don’t find it in my wardrobe or in shops, so I sometimes design and develop the piece which I had imagined.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I have timelessness in mind when I design because trends have become ever so fickle. I’m against throwing away good quality clothes just because their designs were limited to a very short period of time, as that would harm our environment and it would be disloyal to that piece you once loved.
I appreciate the simple details that make a difference. I firmly aim for smart and feminine womenswear.
What are your favorite fabrics to work with and why?
I absolutely adore silk wool because it reflects confidence through its discreet quality and an immense appearance of depth.
It leaves an impression even on those who are not interested in fashion, and it distinguishes the wearer even on the most crowded street.
Tell us about your color scheme.
Generally speaking, the brand’s colour palette consists of black, neutrals, white/cream, and blush. I often find myself utilising classical, urban-feminine colours. For example, my pink is peach and my red is bordeaux.
What is your favorite piece from your collection?
Favouring one of my creations would be unfair as each design has a lovely story behind it, but the Chevalier Noir jacket from the Premier collection has many fans.
How do you want women to feel wearing your clothes?
F. Scott Fitzgerald said: when a girl feels that she’s perfectly groomed and dressed she can forget that part of her. That’s charm.
I want to dress the best of women. Those who lead, who are hard working, benevolent and well-traveled. Those women need the kind of clothing that describes all those qualities from the very first sight, preparing a ground for every argument those women are about to convey. I want them to feel confident, resilient, loved and gentle.
Tell about your next collection.
It will be a modernised version of Hollywood’s old glory.
Where can readers buy your clothes?
Currently the collections are sold exclusively on the brand’s website [roanneothman.com/store], which utilises PayPal as a safe payment gateway. Additionally, I’m considering expanding to a few boutiques around the world.
Is there any place in the world you haven`t been to yet, but would like to visit from a professional perspective?
I wish to travel around Asia to see whether the work conditions and factories did, in fact, improve for the workers, as the big retailers claim.
What do you find the most rewarding about designing?
Seeing an idea coming to life and becoming a part of the life of a great woman.
How do you see the future of your brand? What is your next step?
This brand is special because its collections are personal and limited and they should stay this way. The next step would be to have a place in certain boutiques in different countries.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is merely the accessory to one’s personality.
How would you describe your personal style?
An occasion-appropriate, modern Audrey Hepburn.
What is the staple piece that all women should have in their wardrobe in your opinion?
A perfectly fitted, crisp white shirt.
What piece of advice would you give a young designer who just graduated from college?
Work hard because you want to work hard, but be careful of those who want to take advantage of you.
There are those who will try to scare you, with the fact that the market is oversaturated with young designers, who will treat you with the utmost disrespect and convince you that you are still lucky to land an unpaid job with endless hours and no promise of gaining skills — don’t fall for that.
Workers’ rights in other industries are closely watched by the relevant unions. I don’t know why the conditions of workers in the fashion industry aren’t monitored as closely, but I think it is only a matter of time until the industry catches up.
Be respectful, and expect to be respected in return because nothing is worth losing your self-respect.
Brand, Couture, Designer, Fashion, Interview