I’m particularly impressed and inspired by your Freedom Range and work with A21. But what inspired you to tackle Human Trafficking? And why did you decide to take an ethical stance as a designer?
I first heard about it at a conference, and saw a short documentary video of the facts, it was one of the moments and things once you hear and you see the facts you cant ignore it! I think I just sat there and cried, was angry and just shocked that this was happening in the world TODAY! To normal girls just like my friends and me. It was a moment of I have to-do something! One thing I’ve learnt in life is we can all give something and we all have something that we are good at, lots of my friends would do things like cake sales or coffee mornings to raise money, I tried making cupcakes which was an epic fail! So I just looked at what is in my hand? I don’t have to wait till I’m a huge successful label with lots of money just start with something small, I have a skill, I have fabric, I have a small sphere of influence and contacts so put them together and just do something! If I don’t try I will never know.
Q. Are luxury, design and ethics, concepts easy to reconcile?
To-do anything ethical in fashion is a HUGE challenge! Our culture is price driven, why would I spend that on something when I get something that looks similar for a third of the price on the high street! There is not much information to consumers about the costs to make things, in buying something, there is the mark up the shop makes, there is fabric costs, there is shipping costs then there are the people who make it they need to be paid, sadly this is were the problem is they often are the ones who are treated the worst, not paid fairly and in bad working conditions (I’m not saying that this is every high street shop, this happens in designer clothes as well) I’m continually up against people telling me to send garments abroad to be manufactured, until I can go to a factory and see the working conditions and know what someone gets paid I would prefer to have no label than have someone treated unfairly to make something for me.
So when it comes to luxury I want to use good fabrics again with some sort of knowledge of where they are from and then with design, if its complicated this adds up to the cost. Putting all 3 elements together is a challenge but it can be done.
Q. What are the key changes you’ve seen in the fashion industry since you started?
Ethical fashion has grown and thankfully more and more labels are trying to play their part. Also with the economy being more challenging the last few years, it has forced labels to be more creative and break the so called ‘rules’.
Although with circumstances being more challenging with less capital around it also makes it exciting and faces you to turn a problem into an opportunity and find a solution!
Q. As a designer you strive for only the finest, but what has been your highlight so far?
Ohh there has been so many, I’ve been so blessed that over the years to have so many wonderful experiences like getting to be part of Paris fashion week to being situated beside amazing labels during London Fashion weekend, but probably two of my biggest highlights was being part of a show put on by the IOM (part of the UN) in a show bringing awareness of human trafficking especially in Sweat shops, everything they stood for was what from the age of 17 I have wanted to see and have a label that has the same morals as them, this is were the Freedom Campaign was birthed. And my other highlight has been at an event representing N.Ireland along with a handful of handpicked well-known TV personalities, such an honour to be included and part of it and represent my mother land.
Q. What does 2013 & beyond have in store for your label?
It’s an exciting year for the label we have just launched our Bridal and Evening wear collection which we will be focusing a huge part of our efforts on. This is something I have wanted to do for awhile, so I’m so excited that we have launched it!
Also we want to push the Freedom Campaign even more, Model Kimberley Garner form Made in Chelsea did an AMAZING photo-shoot for us wanting to help bring awareness of the cause and we have just started a men’s range, so will be great to see were we can go from here.
Q. What music or song inspires you?
Ohh that’s a hard one, I like folk style with a bit of pop, love Mumford and sons, Luminers, Ben Howard all for general listening though I do love a good pop song when I need to get stuck into designing, usually the more of a beat the quicker I work, sadly some of my best work in the past has been listening to someone like Britney Spears! Ha though I don’t make that too public!
Q. What is your must have Spring/Summer item
Ohh I can’t wait till the sun is shining to wear our new Print Jumper style dress. Worn with a cute pair of decorative flat sandals from Kurt Geiger (and tanned legs) We are also be bringing out new accessories in the coming month so teamed with a statement necklaces or bracelet, it will be the perfect outfit!
Q. Iconic character from fiction is…
Violet from The Incredibles… who doesn’t want to be able to fly and be invisible!?!
Q. Style is…
being confident in who you are and what you wear.. simplicity with a statement!
Q. Indulgence is…
eating too much cake!
To see more of the collection and learn more about Zoe Boomer & the Freedom label visit her website www.zoeboomer.com