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Art on Fashion - an interview with Celine Magill

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by Startacus Admin

Since it’s been London Fashion Week (which incidentally ends today) and we like featuring content that is both inspiring, relevant and timely (self promotion done!) we’ve aimed today to  offer up some fashion related shizzle, tailored to that very subject - suits you?

But seriously - when we heard about Art on Fashion, the fashion startup, collaborating Art and Fashion into wonderful bespoke creations, we thought there'd be no better time than right now to the lowdown on this unique and up and coming brand. We chatted with Celine Magill, Creative Director of Art on Fashion to find out more about the concept, the artists they work with, their successes and challenges to date, and all about establishing a brand and a place in an established industry.

Tell us a little about your background - and how did you initially come up with the idea behind Art on Fashion?

I developed an interest in fashion at a very early age as my mum and aunt made my sisters and I one-offs from remnants of material they picked up. Some of the styles were unusual to say the least but I developed a love of colour and texture from this. I progressed to making clothes for my school chums…for birthdays and for going out. I realised how excited my friends were when something was made for them…it was a lovely feeling.

This led me to carve out a career in fashion - it’s a fast moving, exciting and glamorous industry but it takes a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication but I love being part of making a woman look and feel good…and glamorous! Fashion is all about the feelgood factor and that’s what I get my pleasure from.

I have over 20 years’ experience of the fashion industry and wanted to use this experience to create a brand that was unique and different. And build it into a worldwide brand. But I knew I had to create a unique concept – it had to have a strong brand identity particularly in the current economic climate. I deliberated on the concept for quite a while and then I had a eureka moment whilst I was lunching with friends! One of them was talking about art and then I said “yes like art on fashion”…and that was it..!

I immediately set about registering the name and domains and was fortunate to get the etc.

artonfashion.comThe uniqueness of the concept has helped to open doors for me as buyers like the “art for you wardrobe” tagline and every garment sold features a pic of the original work of art and a bio of the artists – this conveys the concept very well to the end user

How do you find and then collaborate with the artists - and how do you sell the concept to them?

I research the artists online via art influenced websites and by visiting art galleries – and now we are becoming more established, artists are now approaching Art on Fashion to work with us.

We collaborate with artists from the UK, Europe and USA in order to provide a comprehensive collection embracing a distinctive, eclectic wardrobe mix featuring contemporary art. When selecting art I probably view the art in a slightly different way as I’m always thinking how it will look in a dress or a top – and I choose the art based on current fashion trends and colours.

The artists tend to get excited about seeing their work in a different context rather than hanging in an art gallery. It becomes wearable art - they benefit by increased exposure plus they receive a commission on every garment sold by way of our Licencing Agreement.

These aren't mass produced garments, so is there ever the temptation to keep creating the same pieces, especially if they are in demand?

es each style we make is produced in small quantities and in the near future we aim to develop a premium Limited Edition with some high profile artists that we are currently in talks with. As the business grows the quantity of each style will increase but we will never mass produce something as our ethos is built on exclusivity and uniqueness.

What's your biggest success to date?

We recently appointed a high profile agent in Los Angeles which we are very excited about – she heard of our brand and came looking for us! So we have just launched our Autumn/Winter 2014 collection with her and she is planning to show it to high profile retailers in the States and premium department stores. We see this as a great opportunity to develop Art on Fashion into a global brand which is another step forward to making our vision a reality!

There’s lots of exciting things happening at Art on Fashion at the moment so this is just one of them.!

And what's been your biggest challenge?

Financing the growth of the business is my biggest challenge! It’s true that banks aren’t lending so the impact on my cash flow makes things difficult on a day to day basis. So you have to look at all other finance options e.g. crowd-funding or investment - going forward I am keen to bring the right investors onboard.

Every day brings its challenges but you’ve got to come back every morning strong for the team! It can be hard going but they say that entrepreneurs have a survival instinct. They don’t accept NOs and they’re resilient…the gurus of business say success is 1% inspiration + 99% perspiration and I would agree with that… entrepreneurs are determined go-getters and driven to make it happen with just a hint of madness which helps!

I’ve met a great bunch of entrepreneurs on the Propel Programme and this would be a fair description of each and every one of them!

artonfashion.comIt's currently London Fashion Week  - How easy is for it establishing brands and fashion startups to find their place in such a large and established industry?

For a fashion startup it’s so important to have a very strong brand identity – the brand has to have its own distinctive style that is clearly visible through its imagery and the look and feel of the product. Customers have to know and understand the personality of a brand. 

Our aim was to develop a unique, distinctive and exclusive brand – we feel we have achieved this as there are no competing businesses specialising in this market niche. We target fashionistas and the modern, affluent 25-plus woman who is looking for something to wear to work and on to social and networking events – it has to be adaptable, affordable designer wear which can make her look and feel special. Getting to know your customers wants and desires are important for developing brand loyalty and building an online community. 

I think you need a lot of perseverance and determination to find your place in the fashion world….finding a high profile celebrity to endorse the collection would be great way to establish the brand..!

If you like this Fashion / Startup related interview, you might also want to read this two related #LBS posts from the last 48 hours:

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Published on: 17th February 2014

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