Linda, so lovely to see you! So tell us…is fashion the industry you always wanted to be in?
I went through many possible career choices ranging from an Astronaut to a Biologist but mainly science based until I hit 14 and discovered fashion! From then on fashion was what I wanted to do.
How funny! Science to fashion! Can you tell us about the journey that you have had? For example, where did you start etc?
I was very lucky! I wrote to a teen fashion magazine of the time called Honey when I was 14 and they wrote back advising me to go to Art School which I did! I did a fashion design degree at St Martins School of Art and by an incredible co-incidence managed to get some work experience at Honey magazine which then turned into a job as fashion assistant then Deputy Fashion editor there.
I then became Fashion Editor at You magazine, the colour supplement of The Mail on Sunday for 9 years.
I like the name Honey! As you said, what a co-incidence! That must have been the best feeling being able to start off working somewhere that you had always admired and wanted to gain experience! Why did you go from working in adultswear to childrenswear?
I had my son at the same time as my then husband was looking for a new publishing project. We both thought that the parenting sector was appalling at the time as all of the magazines were very depressing and cheap looking. There was nothing for the mother to be who loved fashion and was used to glossy monthly magazines! So, six months after my son was born we launched Junior Magazine and I stayed with it for 15 years!
It’s so funny as Junior Magazine was not only the first time I met you but also the first work placement in London I ever got whilst I was studying! Are you happy that you made the transition?
Yes definitely! Womenswear is a very hard area as you need tons of energy and time to work in it at a high level. I admire the Fashion editors who carry on after having kids, as there is a lot of travel involved and late evenings on shoots etc. Without good support, a nanny or stay at home husband I don’t think it is possible.
As you said, support is key! What made you start your blog Smudetikka?
I could see that the digital world was taking over and the writing was on the wall for magazines. It hasn’t happened as fast as I thought it would but certainly in parenting a lot of mothers now look online as a first port of call for information and its killing the parenting press.
It’s crazy how the digital world is taking over! But I have to ask…why the name Smudegtikka?
I wanted something distinctive! It was my son’s invention and I liked the sound of it, partly because I began the blog anonymously so I didn’t want anything too like a parenting title.
I love the name! As you said, it’s very distinctive and people will remember it because of that! Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? Is it from shows/magazines/life etc?
Mostly the trade shows as they are great for finding new labels but exhibitions are also fab! I recently went to the Jean Paul Gaultier one in London which was wonderful.
Sadly, I don’t look at magazines as much as I used too! I think that it’s a time thing!
I don’t find digital magazines work that well for me either! I prefer bite sized bits of information now such as collated sites where I can see a lot of information in one place.
I completely agree! I always just whizz through blogs/mags! Something really needs to stand out for me to take the time to read it! How many shows do you go to a year?
Around 8 shows a year! I go to Florence, Paris, London and Copenhagen twice a year and then occasionally I will be invited to another city! I went to Dusseldorf earlier this year too.
That’s amazing! Do you have a favourite?
Florence is just such a wonderful city to visit! It is always my favourite but Paris is a very good exhibition where the standard is superb! I say this but Copenhagen is also a great place to visit for an injection of inspiration.
I have never been to Florence or Copenhagen but have heard wonderful things! I know this is a hard question but do you have a favourite childrenswear brand? Or maybe your top 5?
It would have to be top 5 as I really don’t have a favourite due to the fact that this does change season to season. BUT I would have got to say – Dolce & Gabbana, Bonnie Young, Pale Cloud, Lamantine Paris and Mimisol.
All of the above are not street style labels or even particularly funky but what they do is produce breathtakingly divine quality luxury kids fashion.
I could also give 5 funky cool labels which would be very different but the make and quality of the fabrics would not match up. I also love Anne Kurris, a Belgium designer who does produce very funky and high quality kids fashion but it is not quite at the same level of luxury.
I think Dolce & Gabbana produce gorgeous items of clothing too! I loved their SS14 collection! Do you think there is anything missing in childrenswear atm?
Quite honestly…no! I think if anything there is an oversupply from the top to the bottom! It is incredibly competitive for new labels and very tough on pricing margins. The old story used to be a new mother coming into the market with a label because she couldn’t find the clothes she wanted to dress her offspring in! These days, I would say to her, you just haven’t looked hard enough.
The only area where there could be more supply is possibly for young teens not ready yet to go to TopShop but even then that’s only a couple of years and the High St covers trends so well and so quickly it would be hard for a label to compete on price.
The Teen stage is such a nightmare for clothing as, as you said, TopShop is a little bit too grown up but it’s what the teens want to be wearing! I remember those shopping trips with my Mum!! You’ve also recently started working at Family Traveller magazine – how did this opportunity come about?
It happened just as Junior Magazine closed down so it was a great opportunity to do something new and came about as the publisher was talking to an Italian agent I knew.
What perfect timing! FT is great for us too as you very kindly feature lots of our brands! How do you find juggling your time between the blog and working at the magazine?
The magazine is bi-monthly so I can juggle quite easily! If it was on a monthly schedule it would stretch me a bit more but all the work I do with press shows and appointments is applicable to both projects so I can share the information across both sources which saves time.
There is a lot of focus on quirky prints, cartoon superhero style characters and lots of ocean sea creature inspiration. Colour is still very strong and silhouettes don’t seem to be changing too much! Although, there is a lot of longer midi and maxi lengths around for skirts and dresses in girlswear.
I can’t wait for the SS15 press days to see all of the up and coming trends! Are there any up and coming brands you’ve got your eye on?
A project at Pitti Bimbo organised by the designer at ‘An Italian Theory’ took some adult labels and asked them to produce a kids collection which resulted in some very interesting pieces! Vivetta was a fantastic collection.
How exciting! I can’t wait to see them! Do you have a style icon?
I adore Grace Coddington! I admire her for her refusal to discard wearing black directly against Anna Wintour’s wishes and for retaining her bright red hair as much as for her still brilliant work at American Vogue.
Wow, that is daring to go against Anna Wintour’s wishes! The girls got guts! Are there any other projects you’re working on atm?
I have been working with an overseas company who are stepping into online for the first time! As they say, a little late but they have a very good knowledge of the area they are focusing on and I have been consulting with them on editorial content for the site.
A little late as you said but there is always time! How exciting that you’ve been brought on board though! Congratulations! What’s the best bit of advice you would give someone who is looking to break in to the fashion industry?
The same as I received…go to Art School! I say this for a variety of reasons – one of which is if all else fails it enables you to teach as you gain a degree and it’s 4 years spent learning a subject you love.
The other is for contacts and friends in the industry you will keep all your life. Make it in London though if you can! I met as many people in the industry clubbing and socialising as I did through the college contacts.
I agree – London is the best place to be if you are studying fashion as you make so many contacts and it’s THE place to be for fashion! AND finally – what’s the most exciting thing you have done in your career to date?
Another tricky question…I think the most exciting days were the trips I used to do for womenswear at Honey and later You Magazine! Too exotic (at the time!) destinations! Egypt was one with the pyramids which we rode around on horseback at dusk while the Son E Lumiere was happening and visited the Valley of the Kings and the Temple of Karnak.
Wow!! Now that is incredible!
Another was the Philippines which was extremely harrowing in parts! Kenya, Mexico, Bali, Morocco, Caribbean islands – all of them had adventures and fun. It was bit like having a gap year someone else paid for and staying in 5 star hotels while you were doing it. Also, I did all the womenswear shows at this time in Paris, Milan and New York which was in the 80’s with amazing models and designers.
I have been very lucky with the timing! We used to go away for 2 or 3 weeks at a time on these editorial trips! Nowadays I gather they go for 2 or 3 days as it’s quickly in to shoot and out again with no time for exploration.
That’s incredible Linda! What an exciting career to date you have had! You have travelled and experienced some amazing places! As you said, it’s like you had a gap year but without the worry of budget!
Linda…thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me I am very appreciative! It’s been great having you on the show and I’m sure that all of the CCT readers will agree with me in saying that it has fab hearing about all of your experiences and exciting projects! Thank you so much for joining us!!
Visit Linda’s fabulous blog Smudgetikka by clicking on the link below: