24 year old Mancunian, Gwen Harris, is the driving force behind the newly launched made to order clothing shop Grey Milk. This colourful and joyous collection of garments has grown an immense following over the last few months with people flocking to her for bold unique pieces. I wanted to chat with Gwen to find out why going into lockdown spurred her to start her own shop, how she goes about coming up with the prints and designs for her collections and why having your clothes custom made is a much more efficient model in today's consumerism landscape.
Photos Courtesy of @greymilk_
The 'ORLA' Dress
What made you decide to set up Grey Milk?
"I'd wanted to launch Grey Milk for a good few years, but it was so difficult to find the time to actually launch. Recently, I've been noticing a real emergence of small, sustainable brands, and when we went into lockdown I thought it was a great opportunity to create something positive."
Can you explain a little about your design and creative process?
"Sure, so I'm still finding my feet with the brand but I am absolutely always inspired by the bits and bobs I've collected throughout my life. I'm a total music and art hoarder and I always enjoy looking back at my favourites to get some inspiration. The prints always come first as this is what comes naturally to me, so I usually totally immerse myself in an aesthetic until I'm really clear on it, and then just draw and draw and draw, experiment with fabric bases and textiles, and then start range building until I'm happy."
The 'POLLY' Top
The 'FAYE' Skirt
Where does your love of sewing and creating things come from?
"I think it's just always been a love of mine! It's strange because my entire family are super logical and most of them are maths teachers, so I'm definitely the odd one out! I started drawing when I was young and just never stopped, I went on to study an Art Foundation and then Fashion Design, I worked as a Print Designer and now I'm here."
What was the main inspiration behind your latest collection?
"I came across the most beautiful second hand Nirvana LP with a fab retro floral design on the back. This inspired the entire print story for the summer drop, and I enjoyed mixing 60s and 90s influences with super feminine details to create a versatile range."
The 'ELLA' Dress
Do you think 'made to order' clothing is the new way forward?
"Totally! It's just such an efficient model for everyone involved. It slows down the rate of consumption, and also feels so much more personal. It means there's no waste from a business point of view and you can create a more personalised product for your customers. I'm really, really enjoying it so far."
What inspires you creatively?
"Right now I'm really inspired by the uprising of so many small, local brands on Instagram. It's been so inspiring to discover a whole range of small businesses that are launching brands during this bizarre time!"
The 'CLEO' Top
The 'JOANIE' Trousers
How has it been creating a business from the ground up?
"It's been so tiring, but even more so rewarding. I didn't expect such positive feedback and it's totally blown me away how many people are looking for playful, sustainable fashion. It's given me the confidence to really pursue this and build a strong brand."
Why is slow fashion and sustainability important to you?
"I think once I started becoming interested in sustainability, it seemed ridiculous to move backwards. It's inspiring to see fashion brands use their platforms for positive change rather than blind consumerism."
The 'BETTY' Top
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to set up their own online shop?
"I would say that the most important part of building a brand is having a clear, original idea that you are genuinely passionate about and can see other people also enjoying. If you nail this, everything else will follow."
What plans do you have in store next for Grey Milk?
"I have soooo many ideas! I announce stuff regularly via my Instagram and also my fortnightly newsletter so be sure to sign up to this to find out what's next. It's going to be a big month for Grey Milk!"
Follow Grey Milk on Instagram - @greymilk_
And check out their website - www.greymilk.co.uk
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