Meet the Alumna: Pepe Lowe
9 December 2018 by Editor in Alumni Stories, Fashion, Features
Pepe Lowe, a TexSelect alumna from 2013, explains how her career has evolved over the last five years, including the launch of her own collection of classic silk womenswear.
Back in the summer of 2013 I was just finishing my BA in Textile Design at Chelsea College of Arts. It was such a great surprise to be chosen for TexSelect, then called Texprint. They really showed me the options that were open to me in the commercial fashion and textile world. Meeting the board and receiving constructive feedback very much supported me in my preparation for showing at Première Vision Designs in Paris with TexSelect in September. The mentoring scheme was incredible and really helped me to see where I wanted my place to be in the textile industry.
Going to Première Vision Designs was another turning point. I had the feeling of being rather lost after finishing at Chelsea. At the same time I was also high with energy from my final project. I was bubbling with inspiration and creativity, but I needed somewhere to direct my energy towards something. Even then, I always knew I wanted to work independently rather than for a print studio or designer.
The Première Vision experience really gave me the tools to understand sales, to do a lot of market research, to see what people were attracted to in my work, and which styles to let go of. It was a real education in being able to define what worked and in learning how to use my intuition both to edit and create.
Première Vision and TexSelect gave me belief in myself and in the idea that it is possible to make it in an oversaturated market if you stick to what you believe in and not become carried away by trends and conforming to what the rest of the industry is doing. After showing with TexSelect, I carried on exhibiting independently at PV for two years, selling my prints, embroidery designs and inspirational clothes to the likes of Calvin Klein, Theory, Nike, Topshop, Lululemon, Idano, DKNY and Vince. UKFT (the UK Fashion & Textile Association) was a great help financially in making this possible.
After those two years, I worked as an in-house textile designer for Dodo Bar Or, and then I began designing my own collection. I have always loved silk. Always, with my prints and embroidery designs, the main focus has been silk. I wanted to create a brand which first and for most was manufactured close to home. I had a big struggle within myself about creating more clothes in this already very oversaturated market, but my goal was to support Made in Britain as well as create very classic pieces that are timeless and versatile in terms of seasons, situations and location.
Pepe Lowe is a contemporary capsule collection of both basics and abstract prints. The style is effortless with elegant, classic shapes crafted to the highest standards. The printing is done in the Midlands and the manufacturing in London. We design comfort for the modern women, always keeping our pieces modern and feminine. The collection presents styles that can go from holiday back to work, then onto the evening. The focus: quality of manufacturing, classic cuts and, of course, the silk and digital prints.
Travel and photography are a big inspiration to me, as well as the juxtaposition of nature and architecture. I grew up in a very small village in North Yorkshire, close to the cliffs and the rugged North Yorkshire Moors. After moving to London to study, I had this constant backwards and forwards lifestyle between two very different landscapes. I am a true believer in feeling creative and inspired – not just in creative locations such as museums, but also day to day. It’s about giving yourself a chance to slow down, look around. At the buildings, the sky, the reflections in the windows and water. The most mundane scenes that we take in on a daily basis can change dramatically with the seasons, weather and light.
I find most of my designs come from being open to what’s around me rather than sitting at a desk and forcing myself to be inspired. Another great passion for me is collecting vintage silk pieces all over the world while travelling and working. It’s such a pleasure to visit charity and vintage shops, rummaging for beautiful classic silk pieces.