Equa Blog - News, Views and Ethical Styling...

Monday, 13 September 2010

Designer Interview - Nancy Dee

For September we are delighted to introduce Seraphina from Nancy Dee for our monthly interview. 

At Equa Nancy Dee is gaining a bit of a following for it's gorgeously easy-to-wear jersey dresses. Nancy Dee collections are made using only high quality sustainable and organic fabrics, from super soft soya and organic cotton to luxurious modal.

Image: Nancy Dee Autumn/Winter 2010 collection
In a nutshell what was your initial motivation for becoming involved in ethical fashion?

When my sister and I decided to create Nancy Dee, it was on the proviso that any new company had to be as ethical and as environmentally-friendly as possible. We’d read so much about the negative impact of the fashion industry and we didn’t want to be part of it. It was just the right thing to do, simple as that. Tamsin and I strongly believe that in this day and age anyone about to set up a new company - and even those existing - should do it with a social conscience. Everyone has a responsibility to look after this planet and those that are on it, it's time to stop passing the buck. We can no longer use excuse ourselves because we don't know enough about it. We feel a personal obligation to do things right, and that’s really where it started from.

What does ethical fashion mean to you?

It means that the fashion label is taking steps to bring the consumer responsibly sourced clothing. Different companies have different ways of doing this, such as only using organic and natural fabrics, ensuring the factories they use are audited properly to ensure the workers are paid a fair wage and treated fairly, using only natural dyes and more. It's not always possible to tick all the right boxes, but the important thing is to strive for these things, always aim to make things better for your company, the consumer, the workers and the environment.

What challenges do you face as an ethical label?

The biggest challenge for us is finding reliable factories to manufacture our garments. Quality control is not as paramount as it needs to be with some of the factories we work with, so it's very important we spend time with the workers at their factory so we can guide them through each design.

Fabrics are also more costly when using organic material and often not as good quality; this can make it quite a challenge to keep our prices competitive and it’s very time-consuming sourcing the best fabrics.

Personally as the designer of Nancy Dee I strive to make our label fashionable and versatile, I want people to purchase a garment from us because they love the design, the print and the fit, not because of the ethics – that’s just a massive bonus! I try to inject youth and forward fashion into the pieces, while keeping them balanced enough for them to be worn season after season.

Image: Nancy Dee Autumn/Winter 2010 Collection

What are the inspirations behind this season's collection?

The A/W collection came about from my love of the 1940s era. I'm very inspired by vintage generally, and often look to films and characters for my inspiration. I build up a fantasy character and play out her role with the different designs, trying to cover every event!

So for this collection I took to my history of fashion books and looked at the silhouettes of the ‘40s and subtle details that make the era so enticing. The whole collection is made from our jersey bamboo and organic cotton. This can be difficult fabric for some women to embrace wearing, so I used pleating and tucking to create the shapes and styles that women can feel feminine and comfortable wearing.

What advice would you give anyone looking to make their wardrobe more ethical?

There are loads of ethical brands out there, so do a little research, and don't assume you can't get what you want ethically! Ethical fashion has come on in leaps and bounds, with fashion forward ideas and none of these hemp sacks. Look out for the relevant labelling, and make sure you understand it. But most importantly love the clothes you buy, ethical fashion is not disposable fashion.

Who are your style icons?

I'm a bit of a hippy at heart, so I love Nicole Richie's boho chic style. Others include Juliette Lewis (she really knows how do to do the glam rock look), and Chloe Sevigny (always a little kooky and nerdy, but always very sexy). And as I mentioned before, I often gain inspiration from film characters to, and look back to other eras for something unique. But there is also so much inspiration to take from individuals I see around town, style icons in their own right.

What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe and where did it come from?
It's a little silly, but I have this black crocheted waistcoat, think it might well be from the ‘70s. We had a dressing up box as kids and it's one of the pieces from the box, saved after all these years! I wear with everything I can, absolutely love it.

As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to win an Oscar! I was quite dedicated to my acting way back then, and was convinced I'd become a Hollywood star...... bless. Needless to say life didn't pan out that way, well not yet at least!!!

Tell us something you are really excited about...

I'm really excited about the collection I'm working on right now, A/W11. It's a slightly different look from the classic retro 1940s style you've seen before, and I'm not saying any more than that!

Tell us something that really gets on your nerves....

Computers! I don't like them and they don't like me.... enough said.

What's next for your label?

We're off to Paris at the beginning of September for our first time at Pret-a-Porter trade show to promote our next spring/summer collection. We're really hoping to gain more international stockists which will help us expand as a business. Also our collections are growing each time, more pieces and new fabrics, which makes designing very exciting.
Image: Nancy Dee Autumn/Winter 2010 Collection

Thank you Seraphina. We are very excited to see what you and Tamsin come up with next!

The Nancy Dee Autumn Winter collection will be arriving at Equa very soon. To keep an eye out for it click here >>

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