I Haven’t The Foggiest created quite a stir recently at Trade Show Dot to Dot in London, with their unique hand painted designs scooping them the Best Newcomer Award, we couldn't wait to chat with founder Yen and find out more about this creative brand.
Being creative since a child and having a strong interest in fashion lead to Yen being one of just four graduates out of a shortlist of sixteen in the UK to work in New York for a fashion consultancy, predicting trends and working with companies much as DKNY and Jill Stuart.
Her foray into Childrenswear came when as a personal fun side project she designed some little jersey dresses and sold them to beautiful boutiques in NYC, East Hamptons and Malibu, quickly followed by some little coats and skirts. After selling well and encouraged by Harrods of London through a chance meeting who suggested she expand the range, Yen took the leap in early 2015 to give it a go. We recently caught up for a chat to find out more about her journey....
Firstly, congratulations on winning ‘The Best Newcomer Award’ at Dot to Dot London with your AW16 collection, that’s quite an achievement.
Thank you. I was so happily surprised. The last time I won something was for a poem I wrote in school. Or was it a stuffed cow with an acorn shaped bell in a tombola raffle?
Your collections are so unique, where did the idea come from to use one-off hand paintings in your designs?
On one particularly print driven season, I was having a challenging time trying to make several pieces of artworks happen on these incredibly complicated pattern pieces. It took many worthwhile tries and eventually the result was a lovely collection of womenswear interspersed with these prints I had commissioned an artist to paint.
Have you always been creative, even as a young child?
Yes. I love colour, architecture and paintings. I once had hopes of becoming a journalist but design eventually won out
What is your design process, which comes first the art work or clothing design?
It’s a poetic dance between artwork and clothing style. I like the idea that the artwork and the design becomes one. It’s much more of an organic process but a delicate one as the two inform one another. Thus, my starting point begins with a feeling.
For the Spring/Summer collection, I started off with a few favorite flowers-lavender, poppies, irises... painted in a way that seemed like they were floating in the breeze which led me to think about the setting-low light, sun twinkling on the tall grass, butterflies fluttering on a warm Summer’s afternoon. I imagined easy,romantic gathers as a platform for them to float on. I then placed them in a way where it would wrap around to the back, creating a scenery and added butterflies resting or dancing on the flowers.
The flowers and butterflies were painted in watercolors and then I wanted to anchor the lightness with acrylic mixes and added birds and Mattisse like leaves. The final touch was the background. I loved the brushstroke daubs the impressionists are so well known for and wanted to create a color changing sunset/sunrise background for the sky. From here, I had to ensure that they were engineered perfectly for each style. The placement on the skirt is different to the placement on a dress or pair of pants and then it changes again when it comes to size from a 1yr to a 7yr. It’s a lot of work. Many hours are spent bringing the feeling to life but it’s worth it
What fabrics do you use, do you have a favourite?
I like to use natural fabrics made in environmentally friendly capacities. For the Spring I used an airy soft, lawn cotton and for the Fall/Winter I used a beautiful soft cotton poplin. For jerseys, I like using the Italian slub
We just love your recent limited edition collection for The Mini Edit, can you tell us about it.
Yes. It started off with meeting the Mini Edit
at their pop up shop in Knightsbridge. They loved the paintings but they were looking for more casual styles like sweatshirts. I
designed women and mens casual for DKNY so designing children’s sweatshirts based on the collection seemed like I
could have some fun with it. I
suggested we do a limited run for The Mini Edit only and each one has its own number. Taking into account their cool, hip brand identity and my organic and feminine hand, I
created 2 unique prints that have had a wonderful reaction. Each one is slightly different to the next. The Fall/Winter sweatshirts have the same organic approach though I
’ve added a little extra sparkle to them this time. I
wait to show them, they’re quite special.
Do you have any more collaborations coming up? What would your dream collaboration be?
I’m in a collaboration with As We Grow, a beautiful knitwear brand from Iceland. I designed 2 styles using their yarns and colours. One is the cape jacket, the same shape as the woven version but instead of the hand painting print, the design detail will be stitched on. The other is a bib dress where the woven part of the dress is woven and again the design detail will be stitched on. I can’t wait until they’re ready to show. They’re very sophisticated and special. I will also continue a collaboration with Zimele USA, a charity empowering women and children through effective mentoring programs in S.Africa. I love the idea of working with brands that have the strengths that I don’t have. it makes for fresh, innovative ideas and good community spirit. I would l love the opportunity to collaborate on a film or theatre, designing the costumes/styles based on the characters or the story. What a wonderful challenge! Or even design the clothing styles for an animated film. I would love to do more work for charity too.
Does I Haven't The Foggiest have a Company Mission Statement?
I Haven’t The Foggiest embodies the freedom, innocence and sweet simplicity of childhood transported to an enchanted world of specialness. Everyday luxury in easy natural fabrics and styles for the little ones
Will we see you at any more Trade Shows this year?
Yes, I will be showing at Kid trade show in Paris on Faubourg Saint Martin, July 1-4. I’d like to show in London, too but we’ll see how far the budget stretches.
What are your future plans, where would you like to see I Haven’t The Foggiest in a few years time?
I would love to increase my design involvement with charity work Most of my career has been in NYC where I was fortunate enough to meet many incredible people working for great causes that truly made a difference and I saw how fashion can contribute to those differences. I would also like to collaborate with likeminded brands in fashion and outside. The natural goal for I Haven’t The Foggiest is to grow and expand the offering and maybe even open a wonderful interactive concept store.