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Pigeon Q&A - Best children's eco fashion brand - HIGHLY COMMENDED

We meet the designer behind the 2014 Junior Design Award-winning entry

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What is your name and job title?

Jane Shepherd, Director

What did you love to wear as a child?

I had older twin sisters who had many matching outfits so I used to get two of everything handed down from them.  My mum had worked with Mary Quant in Kings Road in the 50s so she had a keen sense of style.  The clothes that I was wearing growing up in the 60s were very much of that time – and I still love that look today.   Nothing too dressy, but really strong designs and a bit of a backlash against the rather conservative clothes that children had been made to wear before then.

What’s so great about children’s fashion?

There’s a lot of choice out there in terms of style and cost – at Pigeon we’re really keen on good high quality but practical clothes that look great and will stand the test of time.

What are the highlights of your autumn winter 2014 collection?

We’ve introduced some really fun knitwear – hats, scarves and tights with sausage dogs, as well as classic spots and stripes in eye-catching colours.  Our new AW14 print for babywear is a beautiful hedgehog in plum and taupe, which has been fantastically well received.  In addition, we’ve introduced some stunning Breton stripe dresses with bold contrasting piping and buttons.

How important is it to keep up with changing fashion trends?

We’re really keen on classic styles with a modern twist, rather than fast changing fashion.  This also sits more happily with our social and environmental ethos.  But we also like to introduce something fresh each season – just to keep life interesting, which is really important.

What makes your brand stand out in today’s growing childrenswear market?

Shops tell us they love our unique, playful, Scandinavian-influenced prints that are bright without being garish. Parents tell us they love the quality of our fabrics too and being organic cotton they are free from nasty chemical residues. I hope very much that our ethical credentials excite people as much as our fantastic quality and designs.

Where do you find design inspiration? 

Absolutely everywhere around, but particularly the clean, fresh styles that we see coming out of Scandinavia as well as classic 1960’s design.

Why is important to be aware of eco fashion? 

The clothes we wear are about so much more than the way they look.  There’s a long and complicated supply chain which has a huge impact on the environment and on people’s lives.  If we can try to get that right, it can make a huge difference.  We hear horrific stories about the conditions some people are working in to make our clothes.  We hear slightly less about the impact that cotton has on the environment (the largest consumer of insecticides globally).  At Pigeon we’re definitely not saying we have the answers to everything, but we try to be really thoughtful about where and how we source our clothes (for example, all organic cotton and factories that we get to know well).  Until last year everything was made by a fantastic little factory in Nottingham.  They were like family and that’s the way we like to work best.  If you have a close relationship with your suppliers, you’re more likely to treat them with respect.  Sadly, the factory closed suddenly last June, but we still work with some of the machinists, as well as with four great new suppliers overseas.  Our dream is to open our own factory again in the UK.

Why did you enter the Junior Design Awards?

I think we have something to shout about and celebrate and the Awards seem like a good way to do that.

What do you predict for the future of children’s fashion? 

I think the boundaries are constantly being pushed, with really clever design and technical capabilities.  In general, I hope we don’t get too obsessed with children’s fashion though.  Providing a safe and secure environment for children to grow up in is critical to the future of everyone and many children still don’t have that.  While fashion can add some fun and style, we mustn’t forget the fundamentals.


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