Category: Best practices, Branding, Entrepreneurship, Fashion, Strategy

In the spotlight: Titania Inglis

In the feature ‘in the spotlight..’ we periodically interview the people behind inspiring brands about how they built their success. As an inspiration for us and others in the field.

This month we interviewed Titania Inglis, founder of her self-proclaimed label. She triggers us with her solid and clear vision on creating a successful business with sustainable and honestly manufactured fashion.

Titania studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven and the Fashion Institute of Technology, and apprenticed under cult New York designers Camilla Stærk, Jean Yu, and Threeasfour before launching her solo line in 2009 based in Brooklyn New York. In 2012 she received the the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award in Sustainable Design. Growing now into a mature label, we decided to talk to Titania about her drives and her view on the future of sustainable fashion.

‘Lush minimalism is both our aesthetic and core principle: stylish dressing as a guiltless pleasure’: can you tell me how you came about defining your mission statement and what your personal motivators were?

From the start, the clothing was conceived as part of a lifestyle, celebrating the beauty of simplicity. I grew up in a very hippie town, and my parents never had a TV or a microwave — actually, I still don’t. There’s a freedom in owning less and in knowing that one’s few, precious belongings were made in good conscience, and I try to create versatile, long-lasting clothes for the woman who lives that lifestyle. At the same time, the brand is intended to appeal on a purely aesthetic level to customers who only want to look good; it’s not a bad thing for them that the clothes also happen to be thoughtfully produced.

Your brand has a strong focus on creating enivironmental friendly/ethical fashion. Fashion has a love & hate relationship with the environment: at one hand pushing people to buy new things every every season and at the other hand developing environmental friendly and honest fashion. How do you think the future of fashion will look like in the midst of this tension? And what would your tip be to the bigger brands?

Sustainability is a matter of taking responsibility for the long-term consequences of our actions — we simply can’t keep looking the other way as lives and land are destroyed for our society’s consumerist addictions. Of course there’s an inherent contradiction in creating a product from an anti-consumption philosophy; but the fact is that people do buy clothes on a regular basis, we all wear them every day, and within that I believe in the value of creating beautiful, responsibly produced clothes and setting an example for the industry and for designers to come.

I can’t imagine that anybody gets up in the morning and thinks, “I want to make unethical, environment-destroying clothes.” The bigger brands are aware that today’s consumer is very savvy about these things, and many are already trying to put greener marketing out there; I’m excited when, occasionally, companies such as Kering really go deeper and genuinely try to change their labels’ practices for the better.

What would you describe as ultimate success for your brand? And, which factors contributed to the success up until now?

The ultimate success would be to have Bjork or Tilda Swinton wear our clothes. The other ultimate success would be to find a balancing point at which the company is a comfortable size, so that my focus can be less on the business side and more on hands-on experimentation and refining the product, and still be able to go home at a reasonable hour.

In getting to our current level, I’ve benefited tremendously from being part of the New York creative scene, where more established designers (Tara St. James, Bliss Lau) generously shared advice and resources as I was starting out, and where I’ve had the opportunity to meet all kinds of people in various fields, and to cross-pollinate with them creatively. My education at Design Academy Eindhoven also instilled a deep confidence, versatility, and honesty as a designer that have given me a broader and sharper perspective vs. more narrowly trained American designers.

What are the most prominent lessons learned in the process up until now? Are there things you would have done different if you’d have to start again?   

For me, the biggest lesson is to stay flexible — when things go wrong, and something invariably will, the key is to view it as an opportunity rather than a setback. I haven’t gotten everything right every time, but I’ve made sure to cultivate a sense of wonder and openness to the world’s possibilities, rather than trying to make an unruly world conform to my particular vision.

What is your tip for all those young fashion brands on their path to success? And specifically for those aiming to gain success with an ethical concept?

I would warn those brands that some 95% of new businesses go bust within 5 years — which doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t start, but that they should go into it clear-eyed and thoroughly prepared. If you have a strong, clear, individual vision, and the support (financial and moral) to survive through the tough early days, then you’re halfway there; the other half is logistics. If you’re running your own business, it’s nice to be a wonderful designer, but the only way to get second and third orders and a solid reputation is to meet deadlines and ensure consistent quality in your production runs.

What is your own favorite piece of your new collection and why? 

My favorite piece has to be the leather Morpho Jacket; it’s such an essential wardrobe piece, and it’s comfortable and looks stunning, which means it meets pretty much all of my goals for the line. I’d been wearing the first prototype all the time and was awfully sad when the NYC summer got too hot and I had to take it back off.

For more on the Titania Inglis label check the website

Portraits: Eric Morales
Lookbook: Julia Comita
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