“Initiating textile product from sketch, through to prototyping, brand development and commercial manufacture”.

I’ve worked consistently within the fashion, textile and product design industries for all my working life. I started to create my own clothing designs, patterns and began playing with fabric from a young age – ultimately training in fashion design, specialising in technical pattern cutting, tailoring and construction for mens, womenswear and further fashion products. I have a keen eye for graphical composition, cut, fabrication and the inevitable commercial viability of textile product.

My practical knowledge and experience allows me to take a product through many phases; sketch, flat pattern/ draping, prototype, specification sheets (tech pack) and onwards to manufacture.

Throughout my career, I have worked with many other textile associated products, such as babies and childrenswear, millinery and further specialist textile items such as luggage, tech accessories, medical supports and promotional items for household cosmetic and alcohol brands. If it’s made from fabric – I may just have the experience in working with it.

Becoming a freelancer in 2012 has enabled me to focus my attention to working closely with individual private clients on their new and existing product(s) and brand aspirations. Working on short and long term design-retainer contracts for various mainstream brands and start-ups. This has allowed me to add further skills to my services, including product styling, photography and graphic design.

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I’ve worked predominantly here in the UK but also with some international clientele. As well as working on the design and technical development of a product, I’m hands-on when it comes to the latter part of the development process too. Travelling with and for clients to wherever their product is being manufactured globally – liasing with agents and factories to ensure the product(s) is being produced to the highest standards and brand values are being upheld.

I am based in the North Dorset countryside, where I have a home design studio, accompanied by studio assistant, Ella the spaniel.

Q & A with Michael
That’s a very hard question. I don’t have a preference - my roots are in cutting and constructing clothing - however I think there are so many transferable skills from clothing to any kind of textile product - so many considerable factors; silhouette, cut, fabrication, colour, texture, trims - I could go on! My interest is in creating something new and exciting for a client, all the while ensuring it adheres to an industrial process for manufacture.
When I meet a client to discuss the requirements of their product(s) or brand, it’s important to me as a creative to really get to know them. Designing for others requires a sensibility and a sensitivity a lot of the time - being able to pluck the ideas that have potentially been rolling around in their minds for weeks, months or even years is something that I feel has become a key strength of mine over my career. I remember when I was younger, the saying; “we have two eyes, two ears and one mouth for a reason” - as a designer it’s my job to listen and look at what my client is telling and showing me. Then I can digest and guide accordingly - it becomes a very collaborative creative process that I can then complete for the client once we’ve made certain decisions together.
Throughout any design or technical process that I undertake for a client - the role of context and communication is so vital. A perfect example would be - when I’m working on a product and its affiliated branding, I will superimpose graphical elements onto photography of a prototype/ sample to give my client a real-world, contextual view into what that will look like. This is a part of the process that I’ve received consistent positive feedback on being the most useful tool to enable key decisions to be made, e.g. logo size, placement, application method, colour, texture, is it a raised surface or debossed? etc. It allows the client to truly visualise what we are producing and can a lot of times spark interesting results that might not necessarily have come about if we hadn’t visualised it in context.
One of my biggest mantras when working with clients is “start as you intend to go on”. As lovely as it is to have a client from the very beginning, I do have some clients come to me at various stages of the design and development process - perhaps having had some design work completed elsewhere. “Setting the scene” of a product or brand from the very beginning is so crucial - the product could very possibly become an international success very quickly and we need to make sure we’re planning for that from the get-go. For example, you can have a great product and not so great branding and vice-versa. Having the two fit together perfectly is paramount because you as a business owner want to be able to see your product on a global stage - stand back - and be proud of everything that’s gone into it - we don’t want any missing links. Think big from the beginning, we can always edit down later to form the final result.
Well, I’d love to say that problems don’t arise, but they sometimes do. That’s a proponent of working with a completely new idea that’s never been done before. My view is definitely “solutions over problems” - I would much rather someone come to me with a solution or series of possible solutions for a problem, as opposed to just presenting the problem followed by the sound of crickets! Also, I think communication and management of expectations is key. An open dialogue throughout the process minimises problems in my experience - and that’s a two-way street.