How do you take a design from sketch to hanger? Our genius Head of Design Ina shares some of the secrets of the ME+EM design studio (we like to maintain a little mystery) and just what it takes to achieve Intelligent Style.
I was determined to learn Italian and work in the fashion industry there, so straight out of university I packed my bag and moved to Milan. I started off working as a menswear designer at Costume National alongside Ennio Capasa, which gave me an incredible insight into luxury fashion and all the craziness that comes with it.
4 years later, I moved to Australia to join a much smaller local label, designing their womenswear and menswear ranges. It was a very creative, very small team and super hands-on – from styling the mannequins in the store to styling fashion shows. Quite a contrast to the glamorous world I had stepped out of!
After that I moved to Switzerland to work as a designer for Akris, before heading back to Milan to work as a stylist at Io Donna magazine. I really missed the design world though, so I moved to London – and here I am.
At other labels, most things are designed simply because they are beautiful, but at ME+EM there’s an incredible focus on creating a collection of pieces that truly work together.
With every single piece, we constantly ask ourselves questions to make sure that everything works in the real world, for real women: is what we design truly flattering? Does it fill a gap in a woman’s wardrobe? How can we make it better than what’s already out there? Is the fabric easy to care for, is it crease-free, does it perform well over time?
This attention to detail makes the whole design process much more complex and time-consuming, but also much more interesting and fun.
I’m German, as is our senior garment tech, so we share a passion for precision and being meticulous about every millimetre. It must just be in our DNA?
Ursula, our garment tech, has some special tricks up her sleeve to get every trouser to the perfect fit. We could write a book about it (but we obviously won’t – it’s a well-kept secret!). We cut, pin and sign a lot in our fit sessions, and make sure our suppliers really understand what we’re after. If things are particularly tricky, we get patterns made by an experienced local pattern maker.
We spend a lot of time fitting and nothing will be approved until it feels perfectly right. As well as our fit model, we try all our pieces on 2 more body shapes (women with broader shoulders, straighter hips and so on) to ensure they are as flattering as possible.
It takes quite some time to find the perfect fabric. It starts with an initial creative selection at the start of the season, then we pick our favourites. We try to keep a good balance between new seasonal fabrics and our core qualities that we use every season.
Our core fabrics have been tested over and over again and have really stood test of time. If the new fabrics we choose don’t live up to our standards, we either try to collaborate with the fabric supplier to change it according to our needs or we’ll re-source it.
We also develop exclusive fabrics together with our trusted suppliers – we truly cherish our relationships with suppliers all over the world and it’s those relationships which allow us to work with the highest quality product out there.
It’s all about taking the trends and making them workable for real life. This season, sharp tailoring meets casualwear, textures clash and daywear blends with eveningwear.
I can’t help myself but I’m already obsessing over outfits that I’ll wear through the whole season. Who could possibly live without the Microcheck fabric? Not only does it feel incredibly on-trend but put it on, and you immediately feel how luxe it is. Our Trench Coat is my favourite piece.
I’ll definitely invest in the Funnel Neck Rib Jumper (most likely in every colour!), which will look heavenly underneath the trench.
I won’t be able to live without the Transformer Trouser with Braces ever again! The moment you put it on, you’ll never want to take it off again.