Victoria explains the challenges that come with starting your own fashion label and the process she goes through when coming up with new designs.
Hello Victoria! Can you tell us about yourself and what is it that you do?
Hi! I am an NYC based women’s ready-to-wear and jewelry designer. I was born and raised in Toronto and moved to New York 8 years ago to study Fashion at the Parsons School of Design. Prior to moving to New York, I had completed a pre-med undergrad at McMaster University. After graduating I knew I did not want to further pursue a career in medicine. Instead, I wanted to try for a career where I could integrate creativity and design development on a daily basis. I have not looked back since! I graduated from Parsons in 2014 winning the school’s coveted Women’s Wear Designer of the Year Award, I have worked and interned for several brands and most recently completed my Masters in Design Management from Pratt Institute.
I currently design and produce garments and jewelry under my own namesake label. Three seasons in, my work is focused on empowering the female wearer and is always a celebration of feminine beauty and aggression. Never too sweet, always beautiful with an edge.
What encouraged you to start your own label?
I began by producing one of a kind pieces for press & celebrity wear. My designs were well received and I started to get emails asking where they were available for purchase. I was encouraged by the positive reception of my work so after graduate school I decided to begin producing & selling my designs, rather than going back to work on the design team for another label.
What are the biggest challenges that you’ve faced as an independent label?
The biggest challenges are everything not related to design development. I trained as a designer and am comfortable with challenging myself to come up with concepts and see them through. How to build an e-commerce platform, generate sales and oversee production while building and motivating a team are all huge challenges I am working on.
With design being a second nature for you, where do you get your inspirations from?
I get my inspirations from everywhere! It’s hard to pinpoint exactly one field or genre of inspiration that I continually pull from because I try to mix it up every season.
I am often inspired by pop culture, history, dance, art, architecture and admirable women. My SS18 collection Retro Summer was inspired by my trips to Southern California as a teenager and visiting iconic locations like the Beverly Hills Hotel. I also referenced a lot of 1970s Cher and Stevie Nicks with their standout style. I am nostalgic for the 1970s without ever having been around then, the fashion and music from that decade are amazing. Integrated within these overarching concepts were all things “summer” for me. As a kid from Canada, seashells and palm trees are exotic reminders of being somewhere away from home on vacation, so they served as the inspiration for a lot of the jewelry in the collection. The crescent moon earrings were inspired by a vintage illustration that came up in my research process.
Can you tell us a more about your design process?
When it comes to my design process, I start with compiling images and drawings related to my chosen inspiration. I do some reading, look at books and tons of Pinterest searching. I compose giant mood boards with photos and fabrics based on the idea I want to work from. I also compile garment research for silhouette/garment detail references. From both boards, the mood board & the garment reference board I start sketching. Once I have a few hundred sketches I start scanning for my favorites, and then further design into those ideas before preparing the final sketches for my pattern maker to work from.
How were you able to grow your network of press and celebrities?
I signed with Mao Public Relations and they house my collections in their NYC showroom and get them in front of celebrity stylists and editors. From there, I have been able to publicize my work via Instagram, but it starts with being featured in a press showroom.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?
I am wary of giving advice to other people aspiring to be in fashion design. There’s a lot of different ways to go about working in fashion. To try and start your own label is capital intensive, challenging and competitive. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable is the best advice I think. You need to get used to being way out of your comfort zone.
What are your plans for the future?
My first plan is to get the Victoria Hayes online store up and running and begin production of the SS18 collection. In addition, I want to build relationships with more potential vendors, clients and employees in NYC and hopefully slowly start to progress towards becoming a sustainable, well managed thriving women’s ready-to-wear brand.
Where can we learn more about your work?