What is your name and job title?
I’m Tracey Samuel, the founder and designer of Bonnie baby
What did you love to wear as a child?
I was a real tomboy and have very fond memories of my Osh Kosh striped dungarees and red Kickers shoes, a real '70s kid, I remember making my mum patch the knees over and over again as I couldn’t let them go!
What’s so great about children’s fashion?
I love that there aren’t any restrictions on shape or form, or colour. When I designed womenswear I had to design with an idea of flattering the body and certain colours were more commercial than others. So for kids its great, I can use my favourite colour (yellow) with abandon, I can make wide-fitting, boxy shapes and use cute motifs; it’s a pleasure!
What are the highlights of your autumn winter 2014 collection?
The collection is called Winter Safari, as always I started by selecting a vibrant colour palette, I knew I wanted to work with black and white as well, so was inspired by monochrome animals like pandas and zebras, when they were combined with the bright colours a special Bonnie baby colour/monochrome mash up evolved, its cute and fresh and fun.
How important is it to keep up with changing fashion trends?
I always keep up with designer women’s and menswear trends as it really interests me, it’s a good way to see the latest innovations in fabrics and garment technology.
How do you inject a fashion element into baby fashion designs?
I think it’s all in the detail, I really think about how the garment is constructed, and try to make these elements beautiful and thoughtful. Also the colours I use are quite bold so I take a lot of care looking at the colour proportions and layout on the garment.
Where do you find design inspiration?
If you asked me that 10 years ago when we started that would have been an easy answer, but now with so much social media, internet and outside influences almost overwhelming us with information its impossible to pinpoint exactly where inspiration comes from. So I now like to take a step back and almost set some boundaries before I start a season, at the moment its looking at vintage knitting books, going to the Museum of Childhood or the V&A in London.
What do you think are the top three items parents should invest in, in terms of baby fashion?
1. A keepsake blanket, i.e a baby blanket that you love and can live with, but that your child will love so much it will become a much loved blankie that they take to bed every night, long after they cease to be a babe in arms. (the stories we get from customers are great, telling us about their 7 year olds who still go to bed with their beloved bonnie blankets.)
2. A knitted baby hat, to keep little heads warm and stretches lasting for a good length of time.
3. A good cardigan, good to layer when it starts getting cold, again it stretches so will last well and if you buy bigger you can turn the cuffs up and get more wear out of it!
Why did you enter the Junior Design Awards?
As a fan of Junior since the very start it’s a no brainer, it has a name that I want to be associated with; the right mix of cool and contemporary with a little bit of good old British practicality thrown in for good measure.
What do you predict for the future of children’s fashion?
I’m seeing a real rise in the Instagram mum influence and I love it; real mums showing real kids having fun but in a beautifully presented way, these kids are becoming the new muses, I can see it changing the way we buy clothes for kids
As for mini-me ranges, enough already, if you can’t do it thoughtfully and well, if it doesn’t sit well with your brand ethos - then don’t do it. Too many brands have seen kidswear as an easy route to make money, and the designs reflect that!
I also hope we will see less 'throwaway' fashion for kids, and a focus on sustainability, I’m really keen to bring back this feeling we used to have: of clothing lasting and being passed down through the generations, as we say at Bonnie baby: buy once, buy well, pass it on.