The modern woman has been known to strive for her own career, chases her own dreams and makes her own living. Running from meeting to meeting always looking on point for the day ahead. None sang it better than Destiny’s Child, ”Ladies, it ain’t easy being independent.”
Well, meet URBAN GILT. A brand specifically brought to life to make it easier for ambitious women to be independent, while on their mission to make a positive difference in the world. URBAN GILT is no stranger to changing an industry, as they were one of the first companies to use a model from The Model Cloud! Besides making stunning womenswear, we at the model cloud were curious what goes on behind this empowering brand.
To start off, tell us a bit about yourself and your brand.
My name is Lisa Moore, the founder of URBAN GILT ; which I run together with my partner Hadrian. We are a brand for ambitious, conscious women on a mission to live to their full potential. If that sounds like you, we call you GILTY and we provide a wardrobe to match your mindset. At URBAN GILT, we design sleek silhouettes in premium fabrics with stand-out details and a glint of gold. Sassy, edgy, with a clear conscience. All our products are ethically made where workers are protected and we use leftover deadstock fabric wherever possible, which would otherwise be going to landfill. Our current womenswear collection is made in London.
What was it that sparked your interest in fashion and motivated you in starting your own label?
The idea for the business came from a lot of soul-searching and travel. Hadrian and I were set up on a blind date and both appeared to be left feeling unfulfilled by the corporate world. Hadrian had already quit
his job and was about to go travelling within a matter of weeks. Feeling unhappy with my corporate job, I too was looking to go travelling and start my own business. Just four weeks later I decided to join him on his travels and we haven’t been apart since.
On our travels we brainstormed a wide variety of business ideas, but in the end, we realised fashion was a joint passion of ours and it was important we designed a life around what we love. But that wasn’t the only reason for our decision to go into fashion. The fashion industry was doing so much damage to the planet that we decided we wanted to be a part of the change, and we could only do that from the inside.
So both of you never studied fashion, but are self taught?
The first factory manager we met looked like he hardly had time to breathe, let alone time for two people starting their brand. When he asked us “Do you want to make wovens or knits?” he might as well have been speaking Chinese. We tried to sound like we knew what we were talking about but it wasn’t our finest moment.
The short answer is no, we didn’t study fashion, although Hadrian has a background in product design and I’ve always dabbled with my sewing machine customising my clothes for an optimal fit. It’s been a steep learning curve but seeing all the stages, the hours of work and the skill that goes into making a quality garment is inspiring. We can never look at clothes in the same way as we did before we started this journey.
How have your designs evolved since you started your label?
When we started working on the business 5 years ago we sketched the designs and took them to our factory to see how much they would cost to make. It turned out to be so expensive that we decided to go back to the drawing board and to start with a smaller range of sustainable T-shirts instead which sold really well. When the sales picked up, we made the decision to come out with a range of womenswear.
We now knew our customer and her lifestyle much better than back when we made those original sketches. Although those early designs were great, our style has evolved to be more customer-focused.
Where are your roots and do influences from your roots find their way into your designs?
Our roots are very much based in London, but we have so many friends from around the world who also live in London. It’s hard to not be influenced by their home countries and cultures. We both grew up in
London and both worked here for most of our lives. This inspired us to design for the person who needs to fit in but stand out wherever their day takes them. Whether they’re working at their office or giving a speech on a stage. A multicultural city like London has so many different sides to life, therefore it is important our designs make our customer feel confident she can go wherever and do whatever she needs to.
Does culture have an influence on your designs, and how?
Gold. It’s the gilt in URBAN GILT. We love adding a touch of gold to everything we create. For a start, I never wear any other metal apart from gold. Gold is a significant colour with many meanings. In the language of colour psychology gold is the colour of success, sophistication and also that of abundance. From a spiritual point of view, it’s an important material and is often referred to as “The Master Healer” for it’s healing properties. For those reasons we one day hope to use real gold in our designs.
The creative arts have an important role in society. As a fashion designer, how would you define your role in society?
Clothes are an important part of how you feel about yourself and how you represent who you are to the world. Clothes can make or break your personal brand, for instance, so we see them as a tool to help you achieve your goals. On the one hand, our role in society is to serve our customer. She’s making the world a better place through socially aware business practices so the more we can support her the better it is for everyone. However, we also have a role to play by being socially responsible with our production and sourcing. We might be a small independent brand but we can still make improvements to the fashion industry.
Do you think fashion needs to convey a message? If yes, what message are you trying to communicate with your designs?
Whether you like it or not, fashion absolutely conveys a message. Why would you carry a handbag that costs hundreds, maybe thousands of pounds when a 5p plastic bag can do the same job? Because the
reality is, your appearance sends a message. For us as a brand, we strive for our customers to feel strong, badass and unstoppable so that they can achieve their purpose in the world.
Is it possible to realise any design you imagine, or do you always keep wearability in mind?
Our customer has to feel confident in a variety of situations, often high-pressure ones. For that reason wearability is crucial. We have several rounds of fittings to make sure the fit is tailored just right for all
these situations. Next to that, when we’re sourcing fabrics we always look for textiles that feel good on the skin but are easy to care for and will last a long time. We work on the principle that if it looks and feels great when you’re wearing it, you will love and cherish it for a long time. And this means, less for landfill!
Is there an aspect of the fashion industry that you would like to change?
When we started with our range of T-shirts we made sure they were made from organic cotton and recycled polyester so we could help correct some of the disastrous practices that the fashion industry uses. To this day we continue to take into consideration how we can produce our clothes to be as long-lasting and wearable as possible, and also to be as good for the planet as possible. It’s mind-blowing to consider that an eighth of the planet’s population is involved in the apparel industry, whether that’s picking cotton or creating dyes in a lab, let alone working in a factory. There are many people in the chain of the fashion industry who are working in terrible conditions. At URBAN GILT, we want to make sure that no one has to suffer to provide you your clothes.
Do you have a current fascination that finds its way into your designs?
As mentioned before, gold is something we hold very close to our hearts. We’re extremely specific about the colour of gold we use; not too yellow and not too pale. It has to be just right! In our designs we use gold zips, pullers, studs, buckles, which all come from different factories. It has been proven a challenge to get them all to match! We also have a couple of idols we let ourselves be inspired by. Maria Hatzistefanis for instance. We create our designs with stylish women like her in mind. Women who have worked their way to the top, inspire and educate others how to do the same, and in the process make the world a better place.
What advice would you give starting designers?
We’ve met many fashion school graduates who created their own line after university but gave up after a couple of seasons. These people have great design skills but have been sold the idea that great designs are all you need for success. However, that’s only a small piece of creating a successful brand. It helps to decide if you want to be a designer and an artist who loves making their customer look and feel amazing. Then if so, make a name for yourself working at an established brand first, as you’ll be in a much better position to be approached by a business partner. Or you could start like us and partner with someone who loves the business side, like Hadrian does!
Do you have a motto or quote you’d like to share with our readers?
We both have favourite quotes. Hadrian’s is “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”, by Henry Ford. Ford really understood that you can achieve anything if you truly believe it. For myself, it is this quote, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it”.
I truly believe the ultimate freedom is creating your life by design. When you live life on your own terms, according to your values and in alignment with your soul’s purpose, then you’re free to live to your full potential and have a positive impact in the world. To me, that’s priceless.
It is never too late to have a change of career. It is extremely important to devote your life to something you believe in, something that makes you happy. Often times we are afraid to take a leap of faith and follow our heart. As a result, many of us are stuck in jobs that don’t make us happy at all.
Lisa and Hadrien are golden examples of how things in life will always find their way around in a positive manner, as long as you believe in yourself.
Interested to see more of what URBAN GILT is working on? Make sure to follow them on Instagram and pay their website a visit!