Scottish Fashion Awards nominee Emily Lamb gives Frock Trade an exclusive peek at her AW 2011 collection and talks about her upcoming debut at London Fashion Week.
As her London Fashion Week debut edges closer we assumed the nervous butterflies would have begun to flutter but Scottish shoe designer Emily Lamb can hardly contain her excitement.
“Being involved in London Fashion Week is incredibly exciting! Although it’s my first time exhibiting I’m not apprehensive (yet!). I’m showing in collaboration with Design Collective Scotland so I’m not on my own. There’s four of us involved and we’re helping each other by collaborating and showcasing our work together”.
Emily (pictured right) became involved in the collective after she was approached by fellow Scots designer Iona Crawford. They plan to gradually include more Scottish designers in the group with the intention of promoting their work internationally.
International acclaim was a distant daydream for a young Emily who admits to doodling shoes in the margins of her school notebooks:
“Shoes have always been something I’ve loved but I hadn’t realised I could make a career out of them until in turned 16 and someone told me I could actually study shoe design. I was probably quite lucky that I discovered my passion early on as I guess it can be quite difficult for young people to choose a career path at that age”.
Little did she know her chosen path would lead her to design shoes for celebrity fans Shirley Bassey, Claire Danes and Kelly MacDonald. Despite this early following Emily admits she gets more anxious when designing for her friends and family:
“The most daunting thing is designing shoes for people I know. I’m making the shoes for my best friend’s wedding and I’m feeling the pressure. I hope she likes them!”
Emily designs the shoes from her Scottish base using materials mainly from the UK with leather sourced from Barrhead. She returned to her native Glasgow following post graduation training with bespoke wedding shoemaker Emmy because she wanted to start her own business and avoid steep London rental costs. However, upon her return to Scotland she was frustrated by the lack of support for emerging Scottish designers:
“I was on a programme with the Centre for Fashion Enterprise but couldn’t continue as I wasn’t based in London. I found this really frustrating and wondered why there wasn’t more help for fashion designers in Scotland. I really feel there is a distinct lack of Scottish Government funding for fashion designers which is a shame because there are so many exciting things happening in the industry at the moment. Ideally in the future the Government will support fashion designers in the same way that they support artists.
Despite the lack of funding I would advise new designers coming out of college to get as much experience as they can. An internship whilst still studying is fantastic but I would definitely suggest graduates get as much experience after university as possible. There’s only so much you can learn from your course and getting practical industry experience is invaluable.
However, they should keep in mind that there’s no nine to five. My typical day involves getting up at six o’clock and finishing work around nine o’clock. Some days I work later and it’s pretty hard to switch off. I have to be really involved in the manufacture of the shoes and work in close partnership with the factory to ensure the finished pieces are exactly what I want. But I do think I’ve struck a happy balance between taking a back seat and showing a keen interest in the whole process”.
Despite the long and irregular hours Emily has had numerous business successes including nominations at the Scottish Fashion and Scottish Variety Awards.
“Setting up a business has been incredibly hard work. At first I wondered why people said business was so tough but now I realise it’s a constant juggling act that you have to get just right. You put your trust in other people to deliver on time and there’s a lot of admin and marketing work in the background. It’s nothing like I expected but it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
Emily’s focus for the remainder of 2011 is to increase stockists across the UK and internationally. Visit www.emilylambshoes.com for more information.