On Thursday 9th of February we had an inspiring morning with Finnish footwear designer Achilles Ion Gabriel. Achilles was discussing with us about his work in fashion field from commercial point of view. The main point of the day was From Idea to Product in Fashion Business but we also discussed about designers working life in general. Achilles is currently living in Paris, France and working in Milan, Italy so time that he spent discussing with us was very valuable.
Achilles Ion Gabriel has studied footwear design in HAMK University of Applied Sciences before he moved to Paris to start his own brand. Achilles worked with his brand for 7 seasons and had time to create network among people in Paris. Then he had to put his brand on hold because he started working for an Italian high-end fashion house Marni. For Marni Achilles is designing men´s shoes. Achilles is working as a freelancer so he can also take other projects if they are not from rival company.
Shoes from Achilles Ion Gabriel´s collection.
It was interesting to hear differences between working for your own brand and working for a big fashion house as a designer. Working for your own brand can be only 10 % designing and 90 % paper work. Achilles also said that starting your career with building your own brand can be very hard.
Differences between working for your brand and big fashion house is for example finding the right people for manufacturing. Achilles had to visit 10 factories before he found the appropriate one. Big fashion houses on the other hand usually have all the connections already existing.
Picture from Marni´s collection S/S 2017.
According to Achilles design process with big fashion houses can be very hectic. Brief for a new collection can be only two sentences, or nothing. After that he starts to do research and gather inspiration pictures and make sketches. On the way there is meetings with the design team and technical team. When final decisions have been made they manufacture first prototypes. When everything is right with the shoe manufacturing can begin. Time to design a collection varies from few days to months. Every project is different.
Few tips from Achilles Ion Gabriel
Go out from your home
Meet people, talk to people
Help and support each other’s
Keep your eyes and ears open
Here is one example of calculating the price of the shoes.