London based German/French designer Ann-Sophie is a self-made fashion designer and also a bright young entrepreneur. When most students are searching for a career after leaving college, Ann-Sophie had already written her next five year business plan. Her dynamism, talent and likable humility have won her a lot of admiring patrons and makes Scaline London one of the new brands worth paying attention to.
Q: How did you get into the fashion industry?
A: At the end of college when I was about to enter the business world, many of my friends started applying for jobs and thinking about what to wear to their new jobs. As a student you can wear basically whatever you want but while working you really have to think what is presentable and I noticed many women’s reluctance to have two different wardrobes - one for work and one for leisure. My design knowledge told me these can be combined and it saves money - why not have a piece that is elegant and classy that you can wear to work and be comfortable to wear all day and then be cool enough to go out to meet friends.
Q: It’s a brave step to start your own label not long after you graduated. What made you start your own business?
A: I had the idea in mind when I was in college, so I prepared myself early for launching the business. Yes, I did a lot of internships where I learnt a lot and see how the industry works and how the pieces fit together including designers, showrooms and PR agencies. When I did my masters, which is a one year course, I already knew I was going to start my business so I got together all the information I needed such as writing a business plan, finding the ideas, etc. I was to ready to go straightaway.
Q: What’s the greatest challenge you have faced
A: The issue I was facing at the beginning as a young brand is that people first look at you and they watch just to see you can actually do one season where you deliver quality and deliver on time. That’s why for my first order I had to be very professional and not make any mistakes. We need to establish reputation and confidence with our clients.
Q: What’s the most valuable or useful resource you have received?
A: Our stockists. We have lots of reorders and we talk to them as much as we can. For example, the quality and natural fabrics we use we have really good feedback for our price range. We have limited contact with our customers and don’t know how they react to our products en mass so it’s good to hear their response from our stockists.
Q: How did you come up with the naming of Scaline London?
A: It’s actually from my second name “Caline” - I didn’t want to choose any other name as they hold no meaning to me.
Q: You have grown up and lived in a few European cities. Why did you choose London as the base to start your business?
A: I was born in Germany and my mother is French. I was studying in Austria before I moved to London 4 years ago to study for my master’s degree. I thought London is fashion forward, very trendy and it’s also very open-minded towards the young brands. My research shows English customers and shoppers have different attitude; they buy what they like and are not mindlessly loyal to brands. I have also lived with 3 friends from University; they have different expertise and been really helpful to set up my label. Many of my friends, and friends of friends, also work within fashion. Hence, to me it seems a natural decision to stay and expand the network I’ve established in London. Also for the brand, there is a bit English influence in it; all our blazers are very tailored which is an important element in English heritage.
Q: Scaline London is all about comfort and each piece can be styled to suit most occasions whether it’s a formal or casual event. Will this be the core principles or signature design in your future collections?
A: Yes. I think it’s quite important for ourselves as well as for our stockists; they want to see continuity and what we do with the brand. Hence we need to keep that in mind for our future collections. Blazers are our signature pieces of Scaline - you can wear them with skirts, jeans, dress them up or dress them down. Style-wise, it’s elegant but also with understated modern twists.
Q: What’s your favourite fabrics to work with? Where are your clothes manufactured?
A: Wool and jersey because there are a lot of possibilities with them. They are comfortable, warm and light. The very first collection was made in UK, but now they have been moved to Europe. All our fabrics are sourced from Italy, except leather from France.
Q: What’s your vision of the brand? What’s your next 1-3 years plan?
A: Our core is all about elegance, style and comfort. This is what we want our customers to perceive and associate with the brand as well. Our clothes are not super expensive but also not cheap; we think these are investment pieces. We want our customers to look good and feel comfortable in them and they never have to worry whether they are overdressed or underdressed. On the business side we constantly add new lines into our collections every season such as leggings and scarves in this winter.
Q: What’s your day-to-day work like?
A: It’s actually very different every day. At the moment we work on the Spring/Summer 2013 collections so I’m choosing fabrics, sketching and designing. At the same time, I also need to spend time on accounting, maintenance and administration! I have a production manager to work with me who is very good in overseeing the logistics thankfully.
Q: Finally, what’s the most memorable fashion show you have seen or like most so far?
A: Hussein Chalayan
Scaline London SS12 Collections