Interview with Katie O’Riordan from Theo + George
Interview with Katie O’Riordan of Theo + George. From the streets of Philadelphia to Dublin, busy working mother of two children and fashion designer, Katie O’Riordan is today applying her design skills to fuse simple sustainable fashion together with modern and trendy fashion designs through the use of her own fashion label Theo + George.
Awarded Fashion Designer of the Year by the IFIA in 2017, Katie’s fashion collections are continuing to capture the imagination of the nation as well as appealing to a global audience. Fashion.ie caught up with Katie to find out more about the inspiration and thoughts behind her Theo + George fashion label.
How would you define fashion?
Fashion is a way we express ourselves and tell the world who we are and what we care about.
What age did you decide to choose fashion designing as a career?
I have always loved fashion, but I took the long route to getting here. With a background in physics and architecture I was always curious about science and design. My first major stint in fashion design was with Burton Snowboards, where I managed the outerwear division and designed technical garments. It wasn’t until I moved to Ireland when I was 30 that I got formal training from Grafton Academy and started Theo + George.
Is the fashion you grew up wearing reflected anywhere in your own designs of today?
Absolutely, I have always been very sporty and you will see the sports influence in a lot of my designs. Plus, I have always been interested in sustainability and Theo + George is anchored in the premise of effortless living, and the brand values luxurious, sustainable essentials.
Theo + George, has a foundation of sustainability without having to throw it in your face. It is just being true to who I am as a designer and a consumer of fashion.
Your designs are very creative, where do you get the inspiration for your designs?
I wanted to create a collection of reliable wardrobe staples that wearers can get mileage out of combined with stylish, thoughtful yet functional touches. So, a lot of the pieces I design are pieces that I find hard to find and should be the essentials in every women’s wardrobe.
What skills according to you are necessary for a successful fashion designer?
Being a fashion designer, you need to be able to wear many hats – there are never two days in a row that are the same.
Do you use technology to when setting out to design a piece of clothing or do you sketch the ideas our first?
Both, I usually do a quick sketch first but all of my designs are completed in illustrator.
Are there any international fashion designers that you admire and why?
Pheobe Philo, the past designer for Celine and Victoria Beckham are the two fashion designers I admire most. I love the wearability and timelessness of their designs.
What high street clothing brands would you consider to be good value for money in terms or design and cost of garment items?
I am trying to avoid shopping at the high street all together and haven’t bought anything on the high street for over a year now. I believe in buying high quality timeless clothes that last a lifetime. I’m still wearing a Calvin Klein coat that I bought for my first job nearly 20 years ago. I don’t think that you can find that kind of quality on the high street any more.
Out of all of your designs to date, what would you consider your personal favourite and why?
I love our tees, the fabric is amazing and I live in them most of the time. We are launching organic cotton denim in a few weeks and they are unbelievable soft and comfortable. Those would be a close second. Yes, I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl!
What is the best part of being a fashion designer?
I love that everyday is different. The fashion industry is a tough industry to work in, and you can’t succeed if you don’t work really hard every day. I love a good challenge and I love being creative and running the business at the same time. It keeps me on my toes!
Do you think there is enough being done to help the Irish fashion industry considering the stiff competition from international brands accessible on the internet today?
No, it is very hard to get support to grow a fashion brand in Ireland today. It is one of the sectors that is currently not supported by government funding and this can become a major issue with such a cash-flow sensitive sector.
What more could be done do you think to help young fashion designers of today?
Beyond funding, I believe that young fashion designers aren’t learning the business skills necessary to build a successful brand. I think it is important to teach these practical skills in university and not to only focus on the design aspect of the career.
Do you design be-spoke garments tailored to someone’s needs?
When Theo + George first launched I produced everything in Ireland and I was able to offer be-spoke garments tailored to someone’s needs. However, as we have grown I have had to move away from this side of the buisness to focus on developing the main collection.
What advice would you give to any person considering a career as a fashion designer?
I would recommend interning with an established designer. There is no better way to learn about the industry than to actually work and build up your experience. You will know very quickly if this is the career you want to pursue in the future.
What new designs can we expect from you this season?
I am continuing to develop the collection to provide the best premium essentials available on the market. The next big launch is our denim collection, but we will continue to expand our t-shirt range and our capsule collections as well.
Supporting Irish fashion labels is so important for the future of Fashion here in Ireland. The Theo + George collection not only offers a variety of modern day fashion designs for the women of today, but also guarantees diversity and affordable fashion, designed to stand the test of time.
To see more on Katie’s own collections, don’t forget to check out her website and follow Theo + George on social media for their latest updates.
Interview with Katie O’Riordan from Theo + George