This week we talk to Ellie Simpson Grey from Iris London
How long have you been doing this?
Iris launched in 2012, so about 2 years.
How did you get into it?
After university I interned for a year in PR and advertising agencies. I felt like a fraud doing something I didn't love or wasn't particularly good at it. My passion had always been fashion and design but it took me a while to pluck up the courage to try and make my living from it.
What inspires your work?
A lot of my design influences come from the women around me. I draw on previous decades for shape and form and 70s photography for colour palettes. I live in London, so people watching is always good for inspiration.
Harlow Bralet £45
Who do you see owning your work?
Women who appreciate beautiful things. Iris lingerie is for women who are fashion conscious but consider elegance and wearability to be really important. Our garments are hand made so they suit a woman who looks for quality and clothing that is made to a high standard.
Do you feel more brands could be more ethical?
Yes of course, but ultimately consumers have the power to dictate how far brands take it. Not everyone looks for ethical/stainable credentials, and garments should always be design-led. Having said that high street brands generate hundreds of millions in net profit each year - it's a shame certain ones don't do more to protect workers in their supply chain.
Is being an ethical brand something you feel passionate about?
Yes. I love fashion but there's parts of it that I hate and make me feel ashamed by association - fur farms, and child labour seem extreme but are more common than people realise. Even though I run a start-up label I feel a responsibility to create the most ethical business model I can.
Iris set: Bra £65 Knickers £25
Describe your products and what makes them unique?
Iris garments can be described as modern classics. The collections incorporate flattering, feminine shapes with elegant colour combinations and wearable silk, mesh and lace fabric combinations. The craftsmanship and close attention to detail in Iris lingerie creates a structural wearability, providing a brand that can be worn everyday and yet treasured forever.
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Follow your heart but be prepared for a lot of hard work. Weigh up the pros and cons of working for an established brand (financial security vs limited creativity) compared to going it alone (job satisfaction vs immense responsibility). Get as much experience as you can and remember the power positive thinking will get you a long way.