søndag den 11. november 2012

Indie Brand Interview: Ick by Industrialkitty

I've had the pleasure of interviewing the designer of the charming indie brand "Ick by Industrialkitty"! A huge thank you to the sweet ms. Emma for taking the time to answer my questions!
I hope you will enjoy this fascinating ride behind the scenes as much as I did!

Northern Star: ”Ick by Industrialkitty” is a very interesting name for such a cute brand! Why did you choose it? 
Ick by Industrialkitty: I originally sold bloomers under the livejournal username "Industrialkitty" which became my sort of calling card at meetups. Shortened, it would be "IK" which for me sounds like "Ick." The brand concept, which we hope to go into more next fall, is to use the ideas of "Lolita" fashion as a sort of framework for the more grotesque, the less cute. I discovered lolita fashion through the film, Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari), and one of my favorite scenes is when Momoko steps in poop on her way out of her country home. I like the juxtaposition of this sugary sticky sweetness with realistic absurdity. That was the inspiration for the logo, and where we hope to be going.

Above pictured is Ick by Industrialkitty's adorable, pleated Piano Key skirt!
See below for the blue colorway.

NS: It says on your page that you started sewing as a way to make Lolita clothes for yourself. What inspired you to start sewing clothes for other people, and ultimately, start your own brand?
Ick: When I first entered lolita, Metamorphose had just started to send clothing overseas. Ordering from them was a huge expensive process, just beginning to become more economical. The only way to go was a shopping service. I was in high school, I didn't yet have a job, so I couldn't buy anything, I could only make it. I had very basic sewing skills then, but took a number of classes, and began to make bloomers on commission, in addition to clothes for myself and my friends. We were made fun of very very regularly. At first, like many people who hand make lolita, I didn't understand their criticisms. I was very hurt by them. But over time it spurred me forward to analyze what these items are really made from and what determines quality. Sewing then became a point of pride for me. I ended up going to school for Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and learning about patternmaking and the design process. It was a very stressful path to take, preparing us for internships at major high fashion houses. I came out of it unsure of what to do with myself, but realizing that I am still very inspired by the softness and whimsy found in lolita. That made me decide to start my own brand. It will be very rough for awhile, but I am hoping that I will be able to do something wonderful with it. 

NS: I understood that you are apparently two people sharing the workload! What do each of you do to keep the brand going?
Ick: Yes, I do all the designing, sewing, patternmaking, business decisions, and photography. My wonderful best friend, who went with me to meetups in our early days, Tori Sturm, has amazing graphic design skills and works on the website. Without her, I would only have nice clothes! It is really really difficult to try to do these things by yourself, to not get discouraged. I am very lucky to have such a wonderful friend to help me and grace me with her great ideas!
The blue colorway of the Piano Key print radiates an Alice in Wonderland-like sense of  the cute, curious and whimsical.

NS: What would you say has been the best part of starting your own Indie Brand? What has been the most difficult?
Ick: The best part has been getting my ideas out into the world, from design to completion, on a model in a photo. That whole process really pays off to something wonderful in the end. I really enjoy creating something and watching it walk down a runway. I haven't yet had the pleasure of really making that real for Ick, but I look forward to it. The two most difficult things about this, and I really think it is a tie, is between working the business aspect of things and staying current. I made a very big point of legitimizing this as a business in the state of Illinois, which made my start-up costs more expensive. I also wrote a business plan, to help mark out the steps that were important to this business. I had a small amount of capital to start with, but the costs for something like this (when I'm not buying fabric by the piece, I'm buying by the bolt, and I had to travel to meet some of our suppliers) have really racked up. Making the decisions about what we get, who we deal with, and all that, is really really difficult. We aren't a huge fashion house, so many of these fabric companies have scoffed at dealing with us. It has been hard, but with all that bearing down on me, I haven't been paying as much attention to current trends in fashion. We are just now taking the steps to shoot with Fall collection (and it's already November!). I'm very behind schedule. I have watched other companies I've worked for have similar troubles, but you really have to stick to it in order for it to work out! Hopefully we will persevere. 
NS: Your previous works includes historical costumes and cosplay, right? Are you planning for your brand to expand into those or other areas?
Ick: Yes, I was for a number of years, a Star Wars costumer. My father was once considered to be the best Obi Wan Kenobi (Old Ben) in the entire country, and was featured in the Rose Bowl parade. I learned quite a bit of stuff from those years, from accuracy and authenticity to textiles. With the release of Episode III we sort of lost interest in that whole aspect of things, and I went off to college, which put a serious damper on costuming. I had done some anime cosplay as well, but I didn't enjoy that as much because people didn't really know who you were all the time, and it's much easier to make something that's already established, even if the process of making it is really time consuming. Around my Junior year of college, I went to a World War II reenactment at a local car museum with my father for Father's Day. I have always been really interested in this point in history (along with my dad, who was born in 1942, so he has always been very interested in WWII) but speaking with one of the reenactors really struck a cord. It is very perplexing to me that someone would want to dress up as a soldier from that time period, given how horrible so many of the situations they found themselves in were! I left the reenactment without thinking too much about it, but the person I had been talking to managed to get in touch with me, and we continued our conversations and began to date! He's now my boyfriend, but we also do World War II reenacting together. I have learned alot about his history, and how much of a struggle his people have had to bring him where he is today. It's really amazing. Through this, I've noticed quite a few loop-holes in what are made for reenactors and I've started making many of the clothing items myself. I'm hoping to soon open a small other site with that information on it, although they don't need as much of a direct point of sale. I do take inspiration from this research, though, and it finds itself very often in my work, although in less obvious ways.
Ick by Industrialkitty's Cream Ribbon Salopette, coordinated with their fluffy Marshmallow Half-Jacket

NS: Do you have any big plans for the future? Drop us some hints!
Ick: We have a bunch of photoshoots planned, with some of our summer collection and some really cool stuff for fall. I've been working with an illustrator who has provided us with some really awesome stuff, and we will be debuting that collection soon as well! Hopefully by January we will also be making raincoats! I'm very excited for that.

NS: Do you have any words of advice for other Lolitas looking to start their own Indie Brand?
Ick: Don't get discouraged! The economy is very rough right now, and it is very hard to keep people interested. Do not lose hope! Make plans, short term and long term, for how you will be doing things. Having a business plan is a very important step to running a successful business. Draft your own patterns, if you can't do that, you can't move forward as a designer, you'll just keep making the same dress! Most of all, have fun! 
Thank you again to Emma from Ick by Industrialkitty for taking the time to give us all a quick backstage glance into the busy life behind the brand!
Ick by Industrialkitty can be found on their Facebook page and their own Website!

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