London College of Fashion, FdA Fashion Design with Marketing (2006)
In 2013, after working for some of the planet’s best known fashion houses (including Alexander McQueen, Roland Mouret, Victoria Beckham, Erdem, Peter Pilotto and Kanye West) and designing for a range of high street and online giants, London College of Fashion alumnus Emile Vidal Carr launched his very own collection. Carr’s designs are inspired by his passion for architecture and the desire to create structured, wearable, fashion for women crafted from technical fabrics.
In 2008 Carr was one of 20 UK designers chosen to take part in New York Fashion Week by the Mayors Office. He was also part of the UK technical team that provided the 2012 Australian Olympic team uniforms. Carr’s designs have been spotted on the likes of MOBO awards founder, Kanya King, MBE, Tess Daly for an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, Sports Broadcaster Samantha Johnson, British actress & presenter Zoe Hardman and Sarah Jane Crawford. Meet Emile and find out what he learnt from his time at LCF, his tips for setting up your own label and the challenges with working with industry giants…
What made you want to come and study at London College of Fashion?
I knew that there was no other option than studying at LCF. I knew the clout that the university had within the industry and I wanted to be taught by the industry leaders. I made it a part of my business plan to get into LCF and the positive affects it would have on my career.
What was the greatest thing you gained from your time at the College?
The range of facilities at LCF is second to none. There is no way that I could leave without gaining more knowledge due to the sheer level of resources available to students. The library is a behemoth of fashion history. Plus I have made great business connections since. my time studying there. The lecturers were very tough on me and that continually forced me to push the boundaries of my own abilities.
What advice would you give any students planning to follow you to LCF?
Create a business plan or a life plan. Set targets for 5 years ahead. Identify how you will make use of your time at LCF as well as how you will make use of your knowledge gained once you graduated. Aim to balance your university life with numerous work experience commitments. This will join the dots of what you learn at uni to how industry really works.
What are the four most important things to consider when setting up your own fashion brand?
Business Acumen- identify what makes your product sell.
Design – create a product that caters to a specific market
Planning – create short term, midterm and long term objectives
Networking & PR – sell yourself by associating with the right brands and personalities.
What kind of support have you received to help you get started?
I have built up the trust of mentors who have invested in my company. I have also taken part in schemes that have been run by business centres that have given my company a start-up loan after going through a lengthy application process of submitting business plans and financial projections.
You’ve worked with some pretty big high street stores. What are the challenges when working with companies such as Topshop?
When dealing with retail giants, often their methods aren’t always conducive to yours as a smaller business. I learnt quite early on in our dealings that money management is key. As their methods can affect your cashflow.
Always run your business at a surplus of finances or build up the trust of an investor or funding Angel that will loan you the finances you need at a low interest. Nothing above 10%. Whether you are dealing in hundreds or millions, cashflow is key to a business functioning well.
Your designs are stocked with some incredible names such as Wolf & Badger and Not Just a Label. How did you start relationships with retailers?
One thing I learnt from a young age is that you have to be persistent and never accept no as the final answer. After been eventually accepted by them I got a ‘no’ from each of these companies at least twice. Even though this deflated my confidence, it was only a momentary set back. For each ‘No’, I asked for feedback and added that into my business plan before setting out an action plan on how to implement changes to bring those targets to realisation.
What inspires your designs?
I am a big fan of Viktor and Rolf. As you will see there is a certain level of dynamic and boldness in my designs that stems from them being my inspiration. I also love architecture and sculpturing. I adopt these principles heavily when doing a collection. As opposed to ‘tailoring’ I use the mind-set that the garments our brand creates are ‘engineered’.
What has been your proudest moment?
My proudest moment has been getting married as my wife has been a big supporting role in my career. My proudest business moment was walking past a lady in the street who had brought one of my clothes online and she had no idea that I was the designer. That was a sign to me that I had all the resources I needed to take my brand global.
What do you love most about living and working in London?
I love that London has a great networking community. It’s a great privilege to operate within the capital city of one of the most sort after countries in the world. London in itself is a brand, so for me it makes me work even harder as there is such a high level of quality in the competition based here.
What’s coming next?
My short term goals for the business is to achieve over 50 international stockists. Upon achieving this goal we will look to open our first flagship store. Secondly I would love to do a catwalk show at London Fashion Week. Having done New York Fashion week it would be great to do one in my home city. Finally I’d love to have Kate Middleton wearing one of my designs. She would be the cherry on the top of the growing list of celebrities that have already worn my designs.