FC Interview: Rachael Proud – Creative Director of Matchesfashion.com
Rachael Proud worked her way through the ranks at Topshop before the plum-role of Design Director for Christopher Kane landed in her lap. Several years later and she became freelance with a key role at www.matchesfashion.com re-launching their in-house range Raey. Here she talks to www.fashioncapital.co.uk about her career to date and her top tips for success in this notoriously tough industry…
Q What’s a typical day like for you?
R: The studio is small and we have a team of just 6 people – so we start the day with a team meeting over a cup of tea to run through what everyone’s day looks like, workload etc, so that if we need to help out across departments we can organise that.
We are usually working on 4 seasons at once, one is in store and we are trading it (capitalising on best sellers by repeating etc), then next season is in production so we will be tracking that and approving first samples from the production line, then the new season is at prototype stage and we will be organising to shoot that – and then finally the season following that will be in our minds so as soon as we can we begin development on that…Then it starts all over again!
My day can really vary – sometimes visiting fabric suppliers, sometimes at vintage shops / contacts, sometimes sketching all day…
Q Is your role continually evolving due to the rapid growth of new technology?
R: Yes, at MATCHESFASHION.COM technology takes a strong role in the company – its the biggest driver for how we work. The biggest push is always to make the shopping experience the best it can be – online globally.
Q Tell us about your career route, where did it all start for you?
R: I worked at Topshop for 14 years as a buyers admin assistant and worked my way up through the ranks to senior buyer and creative consultant on the Boutique department, which was the umbrella for the designer collaborations, it housed the Unique collection and then I designed the ‘own label’ Boutique. I was sitting on the British Fashion Council ’NEW GEN’ panel and working with lots of young designers – which was where I met Christopher Kane who offered me a job as his Design Director – which was obviously an offer I could not turn down – so exciting! I worked with Christopher and Tammy for 3 years and then decided to go freelance. I have been freelancing for a year now, working with lots of exciting clients but my main role is at www.matchesfashion.com re-launching their in-house range Raey.
Raey for men and women at www.matchesfashion.com
Q And did you spend any time completing work placements / experience?
R: No I didn’t. I don’t think work experience existed when I was at school!!
Q What advice would you give to someone that is interested in following a similar career path?
R: Be prepared to put the time in! Fashion is hard work and you have so much to learn – and so many people more experienced than you who you must listen to and learn from. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have ideas, but also temper that with knowing that things are usually done in a certain way for a reason – so listen and learn. You can always make the changes to the way things are done when you are the boss!!
Take your time and listen to everything. Read every magazine you can, research, keep notes, and keep a scrapbook of images you love…
Q If you were hiring an assistant what key skills / attributes would you look for?
You must be prepared to do anything that is asked of you and you must finish tasks. If you are not sure ASK – then make notes.
I will not speak with team members unless they have a notebook and pen in their hand to note down what is required of a particular task.
I’m very strict about it.
Q How important is it for you to look fashion conscious?
R: Do what you can afford. I wear the same thing everyday – I have a uniform – I am comfortable in it – I can climb up a ladder to reach a high shelf if I need to, get down on the floor and pin hems etc. It’s a black t-shirt, black jeans and trainers.
Q Best piece of advice you have been given?
R: Get your notepad & pen Rachael.
Q Is there anyone in the fashion sector that you think is inspirational?
R: Jane Shepherdson who was my boss at Topshop was an amazing personal influence on me and Miuccia Prada…for obvious reasons!!
Many thanks Rachael.
By JoJo Iles