Heidi May is best known for two reasons. The first is her finalist position in Styled To Rock, in which twelve young designers battled to impress the best names in the fashion and showbiz industries including The Scissor Sisters, Little Mix & Rizzle Kicks. The second is her highly popular line of jumpers from her line, Aesthetic Laundry, awaiting launch on December 10th. Needless to say, when Heidi arrived for the interview, she was dressed in a killer ensemble of a leopard print coat, chunky boots and a cute red beanie, and of course, one of her favourite, hand-sewn ‘Heidi jumpers’. Amongst parties with the greatest names of the industry and preparations for the jumper launch, Heidi has many appointments for features lined up, one of them being from the UK based fashion magazine Company (which we love). With all that AND a flawless smile, future success is basically within her grasp.
What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
I really wanted to make affordable clothes that people could just feel comfortable in. My jumper line is easily wearable, so you can just bung it on without too much effort!
How did the Styled To Rock experience help you develop as a designer?
Massively! All of the designers were under constant pressure and having so much instant feedback from the judges and guest stars was definitely helpful. I learnt so much about collections, styling and whether a product is commercially viable or not. When we first started, we’d be designing a piece for about three hours but when someone would ask which accessories we wanted with the piece, we just wouldn’t know! Towards the end, I had a better view of the whole look and knew exactly what I needed. It also helped me think more professionally, especially because it was the best platform for me, and was bound to give me more credibility.
How did working alongside successful designers and global style icons help you?
It was just mental! Even though I had to put it aside to be able to concentrate a lot of the time, especially with Henry Holland, I worked really hard to impress him at each stage. Off-camera, he would constantly remind us how lucky we were by saying “You have this opportunity that I wouldn’t have, take it!” We even got twenty minute critique sessions each with Katy Perry and that definitely helped to ground exactly what stars want.
Your Heidi jumpers are really popular on Twitter (#heidijumpers)! How are they coming along?
At the moment, I am freelancing four days a week and then spend the rest of my time sewing the jumpers. As well as that, I’m doing work to set up my website and ASOS marketplace - I’m on a really tight schedule! Just yesterday, I bought so much material, including 15m of sweater jersey and an entire roll of patterned material that I got for just £1! There was so much that I had to run back and forth from my car with two bags at a time. I carried more than 50m of material back home yesterday!
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
People. That sounds really clichéd! I get inspiration from anything really. (She points to the corner of the table we are sitting at.) For example, this corner could be used as a neckline or a shape. At university, I did projects on cracks in the pavement and balloons! I prefer to move things forward rather than go back and try to incorporate, say, 1920's fashion into current trends. I think this quality of mine is what got me so far in the Styled To Rock process.
TREND is a blog that specialises in British fashion. What is your opinion on British style?
I love it! And I’m not just saying that being I’m patriotic. I love that we are so ahead and not afraid to wear certain pieces. It’s also so diverse, if you go to Liverpool for example, the style is totally different from London! Even in London itself, style is so diverse and you only have to walk down the street to be inspired. Even American celebrities, some of whom were on Styled To Rock, look to London for style inspiration and trends.
What are your favourite shops?
I love charity shops so much because I know I’ll find something I love in there. They make me think more creatively about how I can style something up. I also love H&M and rummaging in the Topshop sales. COS is amazing for smart wear. While I was working at ASOS though, they had rummage sale where everything was £2! It was at the headquarters, and only 30 people were allowed in at one time. It was absolutely hectic but I got a pair of Chelsea Boots for £2 and these earrings (she points to her stunning drop earrings) for 50p!
Do you make your own clothes?
Yes because I like to be in control. A friend of mine has a factory and a pattern cutter, but I prefer to do the work myself, because you get ideas through your mistakes. You can put it on at each stage and check what needs to be done rather than receiving samples, not liking them and having to send them back. I like adding sporty elements to my outfits - I often mix and match with other styles; like I was wearing an over-sized Heidi jumper with a tutu the other day. It looked nice, I promise!
What is the most expensive piece of fashion you own?
I’m more of a bargain hunter, but I do have a £120 pair of boots. I also once found a £1000 Moschino jacket in Barnardo’s for £25!
Any style icons?
I love Kate Bosworth’s style! The Olsen Twins too, I’m obsessed with them.
If you weren’t in the fashion industry, what would you be doing?
Packaging (there is absolutely no element of doubt in this!). I studied Fashion design with Manufacture, Marketing and Promotion at university and I love branding. When I was younger, I used to work with graphics, so I would be making boxes and nets for products. I love the creative side of marketing and you will all definitely be seeing some guerilla marketing with the Heidi jumpers and Aesthetic Laundry!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would like Aesthetic Laundry to be stocked at shops like Urban Outfitters and Topshop, and also to be showing at Dover Street Market. I’ve always said that by 30, I’d like to be a household name with a celebrity following.
Finally, any advice for people wanting to work in the fashion industry?
Firstly, do not expect people go give you opportunities. In the fashion industry, you get out what you put in. But if you are really passionate about an idea, keep going with it because you will eventually find the inspiration that you need to continue. The fact that you keep mulling on it shows that there must be something worthwhile in there!
We just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Heidi for taking the time to meet for a chat, we are super excited for the launch of the Heidi jumpers which are to be followed by the launch of her own brand, Aesthetic Laundry in 2013. Join in the Twitter - mania an hashtag #heidijumpers, and while you’re at it, be sure to follow and tweet Heidi at @STRHeidi!