Sir Plus X Fermoie

Taylor Howes speaks to Sir Plus founder Henry Hales about starting his clothing company and his current collaboration with fabric house Fermoie.

– What inspired you to start Sir Plus?

I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I think it’s because I thought it would be an adventure and because I love a good story. When it came to choosing which industry, I thought retail would be easy as I am good at buying and selling. It turns out it’s actually quite hard! Sir Plus started as a brand that made boxers from excess fabrics. However, I was always aware that I’d be able to evolve the range and grow the brand.

– What would you say to those who are thinking of starting their own independent fashion brand?

Sir Plus was stocked in about 5 shops, but it was a nightmare. Each had different arrangements and I was spending my whole time communicating with them and chasing money. We pulled out of the shops and now just focus on selling at shows, markets and online. It was a brilliant change for the Sir Plus and has allowed us to have far more focus. I would suggest to someone starting a new brand that they focus on direct sales instead of wholesale. It’s amazing how different things turned out to how I was expecting them. Therefore I’d suggest that you don’t dream of the Cat Walk and just focus on testing the market and keep things very tight for the first couple of years.

– Where do you go to find inspiration for your designs?

I wish I could say I go to a rooftop overlooking the Thames and play music and meditate and the idea for the next product appears. In reality it’s just through everyday life: selling at the markets, buying trips to Italy and bouncing ideas off the rest of the team.

– What are the creative challenges that you face when designing?

I can’t draw or sew, so considering I design clothes I’d say that is a bit of a hindrance! Sometime it can be hard to communicate what the ideas in my head, but fortunately I have a few really talented people to help me out with the illustrations and pattern making.  

– Describe the ideal Sir Plus customer.

They walk up to the stall, try something on, buy it, join the newsletter, like the Facebook page, tell all their friends. Businesses spend a lot of time profiling customers and researching demographics. We just try to make our product as good as possible and anyone who appreciates this is a good customer.

– You recently collaborated with one of our favourite fabric designers Fermoie, how did the collaboration come about?

Having seen a lady wearing a skirt that she said was made from upholstery, I realised there was a whole world of surplus fabrics out there that we could be tapping into. I started buying interior mags and asking friends in the industry which companies they thought would be a good fit and Fermoie popped up a lot.

– Why do you feel Fermoie is a good match for Sir Plus?

The initial reason is because I like the designs and thought they’d make great waistcoats. Then when we met them at their HQ in Marlborough it hit home how good the fit is. They print small runs, the quality is exceptional, they design and print in their own UK factory and they’re a pleasure to work with. Some of our waistcoats are on display in their window in South Ken. They look awesome.

– Apart from Fermoie, is there another interior company that you would really like to collaborate with?

Yes, Retrouvious in Kensal Rise. http://www.retrouvius.com/home. Oh, and Taylor Howes of course!

– In your opinion, what do you think are the similarities/differences between designing clothing and designing houses?

They’re both very technical and require a good eye and creative vision. With clothing design I think you need to think of the customer and the consequence a lot more. What happens if you are left with hundreds of XL pink boxers, because you were too optimistic when you placed the order?!

– If you had to choose a single Fermoie fabric to use, what would it be?

The Rabanna or Wicker.

– What are we to expect for the future of Sir Plus? A move into furniture design??

We’re not in a rush to evolve out of clothing, as there are so many new products we feel we could really improve. However, when we do, furniture would definitely be a good evolution. I’m thinking big four poster beds, epic baths, kitchen tables that double up as table tennis tables, etc.

For more information visit the Sir Plus website