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How I choose my fabrics

Big decision Fabric Fabric choice

Choosing fabrics for my women’s vintage inspired clothing range is something I love doing! Find out how I decide upon the perfect vintage inspired fabrics for my collections.

Having a women’s vintage inspired clothing business is simply amazing! I get to work with some of New Zealand’s most gorgeous clothing and fabric designs. Each day is a new challenge, be it creating patterns for the next vintage inspired dress or the choosing of next season’s vintage inspired clothing fabrics. A question I’m often asked (after someone comments on how amazing the fabric looks and feels) is, how do I choose which fabrics to use for my designs? So, I thought that I’d share some insights into how I select which fabrics to use for my collection.

What I Look for When Picking Vintage Inspired Clothing Fabrics 

Often women’s fashion designers look for popular prints and colours when selecting fabrics for their clothing ranges. There’s less risk in doing so, because they’re choosing fabric which is already widely used in clothing. The issue is though, that you can end up with your clothing looking just like everyone else’s.

When I’m selecting vintage inspired fabric, I try and steer clear of prints that are popular. I want to create garments that you couldn’t get anywhere else. The Vanessa Kelly brand has always been about showcasing a woman’s uniqueness and beauty, not copying what others are doing. I would like to think I have a colour scheme, but that normally happens by accident!

Vintage inspired clothing is all about celebrating the natural curves of a woman and her femininity. I want her to be able to walk down the street and get noticed for all the right reasons. One of the ways I do this is by choosing vintage style fabrics which make me smile. I want my women’s clothing range to not only help women feel great, but to bring cheer to others too.

So how do I actually choose?

As I spoke about in my rebranding blog post (you can check it out here) I now have a really clear idea about my brand so as long as the fabric fits into those key words I have chosen then it's a winner. But really if the fabric makes me smile then I go with it.

But the actual process generally makes my head spin! 

I have local wholesalers that send their reps to me when new stock comes in too. A lot of my time is spent designing, sewing and marketing my clothing. Having the reps visit means that I can access all the latest vintage inspired fabrics, without having to spend weeks hunting for them. 

This photo is a pile of options form just one of my amazing reps!

I then take photos of any that appeal to me and I write down when they are going to be arriving (sometimes this can be a deciding factor)

Then I write lists...

and I rewrite lists...

I then think about fabrics, I dream about fabrics, and then I share my ideas with some wise business contacts and friends who then give their opinions. It can be hard making decisions on your own and I do value their opinions when choosing my fabric. 

And then I make my choices and hope like heck that you will like them and want to buy them.

What do you look for when choosing vintage clothing? Is it the design of the item, the fabric chosen or a combination of both? Look through my women’s vintage inspired collection and I’m certain you’ll find plenty which tickles your fancy!



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  • Val on

    I was just wondering, does sustainability or fair trade ever comes into your decision process?


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