Sitting down with Vicki Taylor

Establishing taylor in 1999, Vicki Taylor has been at the forefront of New Zealand fashion design for the past 16 years. A strong advocate for keeping design and manufacturing here in New Zealand, and a passionate supporter of the Newmarket Young Fashion Designer Awards, we sat down with the superwoman before she flew out to Paris Fashion Week.

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N. taylor‘s Summer collection has just arrived in store. Tell us a little bit about the collection and the inspiration behind it?

This collection is called “two sides of the square”. In the design and creative processes we take a look at everything from two different perspectives; the creative vs. the analytical, straight lines vs. organic fluidity.

The collection splits open traditional garment shapes to create angles; we fill the voids with soft fluid fabrics and inserts of pleats. We also decided to juxtapose our textures, soft vs. structured, clean surfaces of scuba-style fabrications playing off against crushed silks. Sharp knife pleats appear from underneath natural slubbed linens. Sculptured shapes are revealed to deep charcoals and inky navys, touches of metallic appears in soft knits and fine pencil thin belts to add a touch of intrigue.

The collection has a touch of playfulness, and a new way of defining denim adds a casual element to the season. You can see it in my Teed St store.

 

N.Do you have a favourite item in the Summer collection? If yes, why?

The Pleated Diversity pant is a must and as many clients have already told me – they didn’t think it would be flattering until they tried it… now they know why it is one of my favourites this season. This pant uses five meters of silk; there is something captivating when being surrounded with so much fluidity.

 

N.As you head over to Europe for Paris Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?

I simply could not pick just one thing… I am so spoilt this has become the part of my life that is called work. Paris is an amazing city and during Fashion Week it really does take on a whole new life! The atmosphere and energy is just amazing, and I love seeing some of the world’s most stylish people in one place. There is so much going on at once, shows, parties and many private showings behind those big Parisian doors. And then there is the French food, and the people. Our suppliers are amazing – we are so lucky to work with some of the nicest people, and I have two previous Taylor store managers who both live in Paris now, so it is always fabulous to catch up with them and get to see the city from a local perspective.

 

N.Describe the ‘taylor’ woman.

The taylor woman composes her style in a way that is always individual to her. She is intelligent, cultured, and driven, often working in creative industries. She is a conscious consumer, who values quality, ethics, and good design across all aspects of her life. The taylor client is creative with her personal style while maintaining a sophistication defined by her lifestyle.

 

N.taylor has supported the ‘Newmarket Young Fashion Designer Award’ for a number of years and each year you open up your workroom to allow the Supreme Winner to work alongside you for two weeks. What attracted you to be involved in this competition?

I love the idea of supporting young creatives to achieve their dreams, and this competition does exactly that. It is great to see young talent recognised and supported, and this award gives the opportunity to foster this talent, allowing it to grow through tertiary study.

 

N.If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Slow down.

 

N.What would we find in your handbag?

Have you seen the size of my handbag? It could fit a medium sized dog! As I am a busy working mum, my bag has pockets for everything – so the boring life essentials, my phone, keys, my treasured Kuboraum sunglasses, an essential make up repair kit with my favourite Smashbox lipstick and primer water which is an amazing refresher. A designer’s must have, a notebook, is the only white thing in my bag!

 

N.What is Newmarket’s best-kept secret?

The best shopping is in Teed St – but I think the secret may be getting out!

 

N.taylor has been in business for 16 years – an incredible accomplishment in such a fast paced and ever-evolving industry. What do you believe has been key to your success?

I am so lucky to go to work everyday and do what I love. While 16 years is a long time, it is actually the constant change of the seasons that keeps me inspired – there is always something new and something still to be done.

I am also lucky to share my business with my husband, who has worked tirelessly beside me for 15 of those 16 years. We each have our own areas of responsibility but he is a fabulous logical sounding board and will still, even now, listen to my questions and worries in the middle of the night!

 

N.How has blogging and social media changed the way you work?

This has been a big change for most businesses that work in retail. It has become essential to the way we communicate with our audience; I now employ 3 people to cover this area of our business. It was a department that never existed 5 years ago and it has now become an integral part of what we do.

 

N. taylor is among a select few brands who still design and manufacture here in New Zealand. What are the biggest challenges that you face in keeping manufacturing here?

This is an area I am really passionate about.

There are many reasons to manufacture in New Zealand. With all manufacturing processes there are always challenges and the biggest for our industry is the shrinking manufacturing base here in New Zealand. If we do not actively support this there will not be an industry left for our next generation of designers to practise and hone their skills on. The best part of manufacturing in New Zealand is we know all our machinists, we know who cuts the fabric, sews the buttons on and presses each of our garments. For each style we manufacture, our garments pass through 5 different NZ based companies. With a smaller manufacturing base our machinists costs are higher than in undeveloped nations, but this cost is one we are happy to bear to allow the young creatives of tomorrow to still have an industry to practice in.

 

N.How would your best friend describe your personal style?

Edgy, sophisticated and never boring!

The structure of what I wear is essentially very classic – black pants, white shirt, black vest or jacket – but each piece has a point of difference.

 

N.What advice would you give someone who was interested in becoming a fashion designer in New Zealand?

Fashion is a fast paced, extremely consuming industry – we become addicted to change as every 4-6 months we throw everything out and start again to make it all better than before. If you want to enter this industry – do what you love, take focus, work hard, and before you know it, you will be working in the industry.

 

N.Name 5 things you can’t live without:

  • Hugs from my children.
  • My husband and family.
  • The buzz of releasing a new collection.
  • My morning coffee.
  • Sunshine and blue skies.

 

N.What has been your best fashion investment?

When I was in my 20’s I purchased a pair of Adidas boxing boots! – I still wear them and last year in Paris I was asked where I got them!

 

N.And your worst?

The worst… I remember being in London and purchasing a pair of high black boots. I had looked everywhere for some and hadn’t found anything right, so I purchased an expensive pair that were okay. Then the whole way home on the plane (25 hours) I nearly made myself sick thinking about how much I had spent, if I had converted that exchange rate correctly, and if the shoes were right! I got home and found I only wore them once or twice, as they were not right!

I am a great believer in that, when shopping, you will know in your heart when you try something on and it is right. There is something magical; you feel great and you know it is the right fit.

The worst buys are usually when I have really taken too long to decide. I have let my brain overrule the feeling and I have overthought the process, trying to make this piece fit into my world.

 

N.What’s next for taylor?

We had a big year for taylor last year as we did a complete new fit-out of my Newmarket store, which I just love. We also opened a new store in Christchurch and our big new concept store “The Shelter” in Ponsonby. This was not quite enough, so we also started a new casual cotton label called Taylor x Isbim, taking our taylor aesthetic into the weekend and everyday, which has been really exciting to do. This has been fun and we are never a company to sit quietly. We have several other exciting projects in the pipeline, including the launch of our 2 new websites in the next few months.

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