Exclusive Interview with Head Designer of Scaline London: Ann-Sophie

By Jill Chang

London based German/French born designer Ann-Sophie is a self-made fashion designer and also a young business lady. When most students are still scratching about finding a career in the college, she had already made up her mind in starting her own fashion line right after the school. Her dynamic background, talent for fashion, impressive courage and humble attitude have won her a lot of returning customers.  Also, “Scaline London” has become one of the new brands that are getting a lot of attention in the fashion world.

Q: How did you get into the fashion industry? 

A: At the end of college when I was about to enter the business world, many of my friends started applying for jobs and thinking what they would need for their new business wardrobe. As a student, you can wear basically whatever you want, but while working, you really have to think what is presentable and I realized so many women are reluctant to have two different wardrobes –  one for work and one for leisure. I thought these can be combined and it saves money – why not have a piece that is elegant and classy that you can wear to work and look presentable, but also cool enough and comfy to wear all day and go out to meet friends or wear during the weekends.

Q:  How did you come up with the naming of Scaline London?

A:  It’s actually from my second name “Caline” as I didn’t want to choose any other name as they hold no meaning to me.

Q: It’s a brave step to start your own label not long after you graduated.  What made you start your own business?

A: I had the idea in mind when I was in college, so I prepared myself early for launching the business. Yes, I did a lot of internships where I learnt a lot and saw how the business functions and how the pieces worked together, including designers, showrooms and PR agencies. When I did my Masters, which is a one year course, I already knew I was going to start my business so I got all the information I needed such as writing a business plan, finding the ideas, etc. I was to ready to go straightaway.

Q: What’s the greatest challenge you have faced?

A: The issue I was facing at the beginning as a young brand was that people first looked at you (due to current economic climate) and they watched just to see if you can actually do one season where you at least delivered the quality and delivered on time. That’s why for my first order I really had to be very professional and not to make any mistakes because I was so young and it’s a new brand – we had to establish our reputation and built the confidence in our clients for us.

Q: What’s the most valuable or useful resource you have received?

A: Our stockists. We have lots of reorders and we talk to them as much as we can. For example, because of the quality and natural fabrics we use, through our stockists, we receive really good feedbacks for our product price range. Also, we don’t have direct contact with our customers and know how they react to our products so it’s good to hear their response from our stockists.

Q: You have grown up and lived in a few European cities. Why did you choose London as the base to start your business? 

A: I was born in Germany and my mother is French. I was studying in Austria before I moved to London 4 years ago to study for my master’s degree. I thought London is fashion forward, very trendy and in a sense it’s also very open-minded towards the young brands. From all the research I’ve done, it also shows English customers and shoppers have different attitude that they buy what they like and are not mindlessly loyal to brands. Also I have lived with 3 friends from University; they all have different expertise and been really helpful to set up my label. Many of my friends and friends of friends all work within fashion industry.  Hence, to me it seems a natural decision to stay and expand the network I’ve established in London. Also for the brand, there is a bit English influence in it; all our blazers are very tailored which is an important element in English heritage.

Q: Scaline London is all about comfort and each piece can be styled to suit most occasions whether it’s a formal or casual event. Will this be the core principles or signature design in your future collections?

A: Yes. I think it’s quite important for ourselves as well as for our stockists; they want to see continuity and what we do with the brand. Therefore we need to keep that in mind for our future collections. So blazers are our signature pieces of Scaline, which you can wear them with skirt, jeans, dress them up or dress them down. Style-wise, it’s elegant but also with understated modern twists.

Q: What are your favourite fabrics to work with? Where are your clothes manufactured? 

A: Wool and jersey because there are a lot of possibilities with them. They are comfortable, warm and light. The very first collection was made in UK,

but now they have been moved to Europe. All our fabrics are sourced from Italy, except leather from France.

Q: What’s your vision of the brand? What’s your next 1-3 years plan? 

A: Our core is all about elegance, style and comfort.  This is what we want our customers to perceive and associate with the brand as a whole. Our clothes are not super expensive but also not cheap; we think these are investment pieces. We want our customers to look good and feel comfortable in them and they never have to worry whether they are overdressed or underdressed. At the business side, we constantly add new lines into our collections in every season such as leggings and scarves in this winter. We need that not only to grow our business, but also our customers can see new things in our collections.

Q: What’s your day-to-day work like? 

A: It’s actually very different every day. At the moment, we work on the Spring/Summer 2013 collections, so I’m choosing fabrics, sketching, designs, colours and how they are matched together.  At the same time, I also need to spend time on accounting, maintenance, and administration!  I have a production manager to work with me who is very good in overseeing the logistics thankfully.

Q: Finally, what’s the most memorable fashion show you have seen or like most so far? 

A: Hussein Chalayan

Q: What’s your website?

A: www.scalinelondon.com

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