Richard Quinn – An Exclusive Interview with the Award-Winning British Fashion Designer
Debbie McKeegan speaks to fashion designer, Richard Quinn about his fashion house and London fashion week. Richard also shares his inspiration behind his latest collection.
Fashion designer Richard Quinn graduated from Central Saint Martin's, London in 2016. Since then, his talents have blossomed alongside his love of floral prints. Richard Quinn.London - his namesake fashion house, has grown into a successful international brand known for theatrical couture, bold floral prints and fun, playful apparel.
We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Richard for our podcast. You can listen to the audio or watch the video here, and for those of us who like a good, inspirational short story, Richard’s interview will not disappoint, the key moments are detailed below:
First Q: Where did the RQ story begin and how did you establish your brand?
“While I was studying at St. Martin's, I was always in the print room, I was doing mainly prints and textiles whenever I was making clothes. I was part of the BA fashion women's wear course, but with print. After I graduated, I felt like a real need to find somewhere - if I was going to have a label? - or if I was going to open a studio that there'd be printing facilities there and I set about opening a print studio.
And that's actually where I started to work with Epson, I went with the blueprint of what I was looking to do to Epson. And then that's how my print studio is really born. The women's wear label was shown a season after, and then after that, was the first season that we properly showed at Fashion Week. The Queen came to the show, that was amazing. And that's where I think the ball started rolling and snowballing from there, the brands has gone from strength to strength. We do lots of different categories now from women's wear, to bridal and lots of different fun projects as well that we've done with Epson and other companies, where we applied print to lots of different products and settings and backdrops. We still have our print studio in house, we print for different production companies, students and other fashion houses. So, it's kind of like a multifaceted business…”
Credit: Richard Quinn
Caption: Richard Quinn.London - his namesake fashion house, has grown into a successful international brand known for theatrical couture, bold floral prints and fun, playful apparel.
What inspired your latest collection – the shapes, colours and fabrics used?
“This season we wanted to push our garments towards couture, really intricate embroideries, intricate prints, vibrant prints, deep colors and shades. That’s the vision behind the aesthetic of the brand - I guess, it’s couture inspired. Kind of very elegant, and quite sharp cutting.
We print all our fabrics (well almost) in house using the Epson technology. We can test everything instantly in our own studio, depth of color, texture - everything. I want to make beautiful clothes, so we want people to be able to view the collection and women say, “Oh, I love that dress”. So, even if something's like a real showpiece we can always water down the style if needed, and we make a lot of customized shapes and prints for our clients. We always try to add an element of being able to bring each garment into the reality of our customers. I like a catwalk to be a proper catwalk and to have things that will catch your attention. But things that can be translated into ready to wear as well…”
It’s unusual for a Fashion designer to have such a bold, instinctive (and practical) love of print – Why do Textile designs continue to inspire your work?
“I think even when I was studying and looking at things that I was drawn to or researching or referencing, I was drawn to pattern. I like things that were really embellished or something like a surface design or textile that would really enhance the shape of a garment. I think that's why I went for fashion print, I was always drawn to the surface of a textile, with print you can really bring a fabric to life. We obviously do lots of flowers - print can set the mood to the garment that you're working on. I've always been drawn to that. It was really important for me to be able to make my own textiles in the same space that we make the clothes, it's so great having it in house. If we want something to be really big or really small, we can quickly just do a strike off and put the pattern through print, tile the printer at different scales, do strike off and have it in the fitting within the next 20 minutes.”
Credit: Richard Quinn
Caption: “This season we wanted to push our garments towards couture, really intricate embroideries, intricate prints, vibrant prints, deep colours and shades. That’s the vision behind the aesthetic of the brand - I guess, its couture inspired.”
Who are your target customers? Who do you picture when designing your beautiful garments?
“I like to create a show for everyone - that's the drive behind it, and the reason why I do collections. You'll also have the customers who only buy couture and always bespoke. They will contact us and just want special pieces - they won't want any sort of ready to wear. Then there are other customers that will have a wedding and or a christening or something like that, they'll be looking for a specific dress that's more ready to wear base. We also have our commercial range, street style pieces, very easy pieces, and quite young pieces and they're all different price points.
So, we like to try to offer a fashion world for all pockets, rather than be very exclusive to one price-point, and we like the idea of people entering in the brand quite young and then growing with us as they mature, they can discover new parts of the company and the different product range as well…”
How have digital textile printing technologies empowered your brand and creativity?
“We have a print company within our fashion company, so that revenue is great to have - it's really good to have a constant stream of income. Our Epson equipment is really easy to use, the printers are reliable, they're very robust and their inks and papers are readily available in the market. In terms of our creativity, if we're in a fitting, we want to quickly change the colour of a print or make it bigger, smaller, we're not having to print it out and or photocopying to stick loads of different things together, and then wait for weeks for printed fabric to arrive. Things happen really, really quickly here, we like to work at that kind of pace. It's a luxury to have our technology in-house…”
How has your business changed in the last few years, are you creating more personalised, on-demand garments?
“Our original studio was in a railway arch, that was fun. We recently moved to a nice big factory and warehouse, where we have our own big print room, cutting room, a photo studio and office – we have a lot more space. But I think in terms of the customer, I think that the products developed a lot, I think what people are really drawn to bespoke service, that kind of couture service that we offer in bridal and also bespoke prints. A lot of people want a shape from the runway and they'll want a very specific colour - we can do that on demand in house. And for retailers we can offer them a custom colourway or mixing prints and different shapes for an exclusive collection…”
Credit: Richard Quinn
Caption: “A lot of people want a shape from the runway, and they'll want a very specific colour - we can do that on demand in house. And for retailers we can offer them a custom colourway or mixing prints and different shapes for an exclusive collection…”
How do you use your in-house Epson printers to build and plan new collections - day by day?
“We have two very nice big Epson printers. We run at full capacity as often as we can, and they actually run simultaneously at the same speed, which is great. We use them together or independently as needed. We create and print placement prints for some styles and roll-to roll for others. We test patterns and colour’s instantly as we create and plan our collections. As I said earlier it’s a luxury to have our own print facility in-house...”
Sustainable production is a challenge for the fashion Industry – How does your collaboration with Epson help you achieve your SDG’s?
“I think since the beginning, it was all about growing a company that can be as sustainable as possible. But I feel the Epson technology made it quite easy for us, because the only waste that comes from our production is the paper waste and we get that picked up and recycled. There's no water waste, that goes into filtration system – and we print everything on demand, we don't have lots of surplus fabric hanging around. We create very specific lay plans and get as much as we can out of the fabrics. We’re not carting things all over the world to get printed, our products have a short footprint - here at RQ we make everything in-house and save carbon.
We are also investing in and actively sourcing sustainable, and responsibly sourced materials for our collections, over the last few years their availability has grown. There's so many amazing fabrics now that are recycled that we can sublimate, you can really pick away and see this at every level and we can implement something that will be really positive for the environment, which is great.”
The Fashion cycle never stops - What’s next for the RQ brand and what exciting new developments/products can your clients look forward to in the months ahead?
“In a few months month’s we're launching our own ecommerce website. That's one thing that's always been kind of like a running joke with any of our clients because they can never find our website. And then in terms of products, we're also starting to develop fabrics for a new homeware collection for 2024.We've made sofas and seats, rugs and wallpapers and things like that for pop ups that we do for clients in the past - that's the next step going into homeware range as well, it’s always busy here at Richard Quinn….”
We wish Richard Quinn and his international fashion brand every success, and look forward to viewing his first homeware collection in the very near future.
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