In a relatively short period of time, Scottish designer Mairi McDonald has not only shown at London and Paris Fashion Weeks, but also to developed a secondary line Mairi McDonald Off Duty. She has ushered in a pieces inspired by iconic women of the Sixties and Seventies highlighting heritage fabrics such as Scottish lace and richly embellished knitwear. During UBM Fashion’s trade show Coterie, McDonald discussed the new collections, how to invigorate the classics and extending her presence in a popular sector of the contemporary market.
WWD: How would you describe both your eponymous line and diffusion line?
Mairi McDonald: The ethos of the brand is quite rock ‘n’ roll inspired. Mairi McDonald is inspired by key iconic women in music. We take a lot of reference points from the Sixties and Seventies music industry and fashion. It’s quite a free-spirited eclectic Bohemian feel to it with quite a dark age.
WWD: How do you differentiate the two lines?
M.M.: I have two lines within Mairi McDonald: Mairi McDonald, a luxury contemporary women’s wear and the new Mairi McDonald Off Duty line. Key pieces from Mairi McDonald are things like the patchwork dress — taking something like patchwork, which was a key influence in the Sixties and Seventies, but pushing it forward using foil leather, suede, putting it in black, and in a contemporary silhouette.
Things like the intricate knit detail, where we have 600 Swarovski crystals hand-threaded through the knitwear. One of our key points is using Scottish lace. Scottish lace is a heritage fabric. It’s hundreds of years old, and there is only one mill that still produces this.
From the Off Duty line, I would our bomber jackets really creates that California cool, effortless, laid- back vibe. It includes separates that can be chucked on with jeans and flip-flops. We’ve got skinny ties with the long, skinny, fringe ties. We have head scarves that are actually incorporated into the piece also. it’s got that Keith Richards, sixties, rock-and-roll feel to it.
WWD: You’ve shown at numerous fashion weeks, what are the advantages of presenting at a trade show such as Coterie?
M.M.: I always get a really good response from American buyers and showrooms. It felt the right time to take the brand and show it at Coterie. There’s a huge amount of people from all over America in Europe, and Asia. It’s nice to get your brand in front of all these people. I’ve had amazing feedback since I’ve been here. So for me, it’s been really beneficial.
You have to make sure that you’re alongside brands that have similar taste points and that are the right fit for buyers. I think it’s doing your research. I’m launching a secondary line, which is Mairi McDonald Off Duty – in terms of accessible luxury price point, this was perfect for the contemporary market.