In Auckland to celebrate the launch of MIMCO’s Atomic Ranger collection for spring/summer 2015, FQ sat down with the brand’s managing director, Cathryn Wills, to talk about her design process, the diversity of accessories and her personal take on finishing an outfit with finesse.
FQ: What do you love about working with accessories?
Cathryn Wills: We can pretty much talk to every trend without it being schizophrenic, as long as it’s through the MIMCO brand filter. We are never going to be a minimalist, monastic, uber serious brand, but we can talk to boho, we can talk to sports luxe, we can talk to military. The other thing with accessories is that other than shoes needing to fit and be comfortable, fit and body issues don’t come into it and that makes it a bit more free in the design process. Not having to worry about bottoms and boobs and arms and things!
Do you find you have quite a diverse customer base because of that?
We do! We’ve got 13 to 60 year olds shopping with us, and all different shapes and sizes, which I love. I love that it is sort of a democratic brand that you know isn’t just for tall skinny girls. It is very open-minded and it’s really about women that just connect to creativity, individuality and it’s the idea of a little bit of accessory action lifting their look. They can have a really minimal apparel look and then go a bit crazy with their handbag or with their shoes or necklace or earrings, that’s what accessories do.
What does that mean for the design process?
MIMCO the brand, is built on creativity, it’s built on a design approach and it’s about mixed mediums. We are not about blindly copying what’s out in the marketplace, so they’re quite strong pillars to work within when designing a collection. It means that whatever the trends are that are going to resonate with the consumer, it’s always got have the MIMCO vibe. MIMCO does have a point of view and it stands for something and that’s something that I fight for.
You’ve said when you’re designing a collection you write stories to spark your ideas. How did the concept for Atomic Ranger come about?
That was sparked by watching The Monuments Men, which is a George Clooney and Matt Damon movie set in WWII and based on a true story. I had also been in Italy at the leather fair and I had seen a couple of different leathers that were a bit camouflage-y and I was just feeling that military was quite a good vibe. So I watched The Monuments Men and I watched 300, which is very gory but I loved Eva Green with all her fierce armour down her back.
I was just imaging the idea of this amazing ranger who has to be a woman, has to be strong. If you read the story it’s a notion of this ranger who collects art, she takes it back to the laboratory and she remixes it and it becomes what she calls her kisses and she makes them into holographic firework displays. I think about the fireworks and that informs the colour palette, I think about the art and the Dutch masters and the renaissance art and that informs the colour palette as well. The military talks more to trends, the ranger talks to this athletic, sporty woman.
What are your tips for accessorising?
I love decoration and I love the excitement of an accessory that uplifts an outfit. I don’t like anything that feels too superfluous or feels too fussy and isn’t comfortable to wear. I suppose when you’re accessorising, it’s always got to complement you as a person. I think you can tell when someone puts something on that it just isn’t right for them. So choosing the right part of the body for the accessory and then feeling comfortable when you’re walking out in it. There is nothing worse than a bag that feels too heavy or is too long for your height or just isn’t working.
What’s your approach to buying investment pieces?
I’m a big shoe person. I don’t usually escape a Paris trip without Dries van Noten shoes. I have a whole collection of shoes which is somewhat indulgent but I just think a shoe is such a beautiful object. I’m not really into fast throwaway fashion, I like to buy pieces I know are things I actually love, because I know I’ll pull them out in three or four years’ time. And I think that’s how consumerism is going as well; people want to buy less and they want to feel a connection with it and it’s less about thousands and thousands of items in your wardrobe. Buying a piece of jewellery is such an indulgent thing to do for yourself, not having to be gifted it by someone else and actually spoiling yourself as a woman.
What are your go-to accessories for day and night?
I’ll wear heels during the day sometimes, but probably my go-to is a good flat boot so I can run around, with a bunch of stud earrings and fine rings. If it’s a true night event then an oversized clutch and a big heel is what I need, because I’m short. I’m not fussed about being short when I’m running around in the office!
> View MIMCO’s Atomic Ranger collection look book