What inspires me:
The challenge of balancing creativity and sustainability, and keeping pace with ever-changing innovative and technical fabrics.
Biggest challenge in my current role:
Innovating product that is both technically effective and sustainable, while also maintaining an aesthetic newness that is in step with the latest fashion and trends.
Having started out in safety clothing, I moved into fabric manufacturing, then to garment manufacturing as a marketing director. I ended up running two separate embellishment companies, the second of which was very focused on embellishments for performance sportswear and premium fashion.
Recent breakthroughs in embellishments:
Most recently we have launched a super stretch transfer that responds to the increased stretch of performance fabrics. We now have a product that stretches and recovers more than any fabric we have tested to date.
How embellishments are used across different categories and segments:
In premium fashion, embellishment tends to be more minimalist but of higher quality. In more high-street fashion (fast fashion), there tends to be larger, more colorful embellishment using basic printing techniques. When it comes to the performance and outdoor segments, the type of embellishment changes within the category: in running, it is about visibility and comfort, while in team sports, the focus is on the crest and promotion.
How embellishments are evolving in footwear:
In footwear, embellishment can become an integral part of the shoe through woven componentry, forming part of the shoe itself. These can be simple, design-led, woven fabrics through to highly engineered woven panels. Additionally, heat applied transfers and other raised embellishments are used extensively to decorate and enable customization of a shoe.
Denim and embellishments:
Embellishment in denim is part of the culture of denim. It projects the entire style of a denim brand in a way not common in other segments. From the minimalist self-color labeling to flamboyant use of large colorful patches and transfers, the spectrum is enormous. Leather is still a stalwart embellishment technique and with the advent of sustainable leathers and patches made from natural products like pineapple pulp, denim embellishment has a very powerful sustainability story behind it.
The shift in manufacturing of embellishments:
Very little has changed within embellishment manufacturing until very recently. We were early adopters in digital printing of heat transfers, which enables high-definition imagery to be produced. This allows multi-color imagery to be more readily available at lower costs. We are now actively looking at how to make the manufacturing of embellishments more sustainable and more responsive.
Sustainability and embellishments:
There are embellishments that are more sustainable than others. This is inevitable given the breadth of materials and production techniques used. An example of a very sustainable embellishment is recycled yarn, woven patches like the ones seen in the collections of Christopher Raeburn. Equally, our lifecycle analysis of heat transfer production indicates that it is more sustainable than standard screen printing due to using a significantly lesser amount of water. However, we have very clear goals around all of our products and solutions to make them far more sustainable by 2025, and this will require us to fundamentally re-think how embellishments are produced and applied in the medium to long term.
How I exhibit the RBIS core values:
As a leader in our organization, I drive action to keep the focus on customer value. I empower my team to match this with speed, efficiency, and our core beliefs in being a force for good.
Best career advice I’ve received?
Take your work seriously, and yourself much less so!