Kerrie Aldo: Fashion with Craftmanship and Conviction
Kerrie Aldo is a Scottish fashion designer who creates tactile, casual, long-lasting garments and outerwear for all ages and genders. After building her award-winning brand in Dundee, Kerrie is now based in Leeds, and is creating cool new collections using ethical and sustainable methods, so I couldn’t wait to collaborate! Here, see how I styled two Kerrie Aldo pieces in photos by fellow Edinburgh blogger Hayley Russell, and read my interview with Kerrie about how she created her label, as well as her inspirations and aspirations.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue this career?
A set of circumstances have led me to where I am today, I don’t remember it being a defining moment or even a conscious decision, but I’m happy with where I have ended up!
How did you get started?
I initially wanted to study fine art and embarked on a portfolio course at Dundee college which led me to specialise in fashion and textiles for two years at HNC and HND level, from there I applied and got into 2nd year of uni to study fashion design for Industry at Heriot-Watt in Galashiels (the Scottish Borders campus). I came away with a 1st class degree but I didn’t yet have plans on what I was going to do with it! I moved back to my hometown of Dundee to save up some money the summer after graduating and to think about pursuing a career in fashion (the general idea of working for a bigger company or brand) during this time I worked at a café and started interning for 1 day a week with Hayley Scanlan. This led to paid work and I also picked up another job teaching fashion workshops within schools. Over the next few years, I continued working on my own designs and developed styles from my university collection that I then started building demand for one-off coats – eventually leading to me launching my own website and building the brand enough to jump into full-time self-employment.
What does your average working day look like?
An average day would start with me making a small action plan for the day, I often write a ‘to-do’ list each morning and estimate the amount of time I will spend on each task – I find this really helpful and it helps me to set realistic targets for the day! Once I have done this I will get myself a coffee and I aim to start with the tasks, which are the most challenging of the day. This is usually working on a custom piece, pattern drafting, designing and organising supplies or orders as a few examples. I stop for a break at lunch and usually take a little time to recharge. The afternoon is usually spent cutting out patterns, cutting fabric, checking orders, sewing or taking photos of custom pieces and social media updates. The day usually flys in, sometimes I catch up on emails/custom requests at night but I try to take nights and weekends off as much as I can.
Which is your favourite piece you’ve designed, and why?
It has to be my ‘zero waste’ coat. I designed this piece a couple of years ago and it was exhibited at the Dundee International Design Festival. The coat was entirely made up of offcuts of waxed cotton fabric that would have otherwise been wasted, constructed in the original KerrieALDO style, it also had a recycled lining fabric. Since making this piece I have been thinking of ways to incorporate the idea into a RTW wear design, the first piece I have released from this concept is a ‘zero waste’ purse.
How would you sum up your brand in one sentence?
KerrieALDO is an independent brand specializing in outerwear, all of which are individually handmade to last, within the UK.
What other designers are your inspired by?
I admire the work of Margaret Howell, Christopher Raeburn and Nigel Cabourn.
What does your design/manufacturing process look like from start to finish?
Each KerrieALDO item is designed, cut and made within the same studio space. The process can be slightly different dependant on what I am working on. If it’s a new design idea I will sketch out lots of ideas and sample small seams, pocket ideas, fabric test etc. before starting the pattern. I’ll then start the pattern after all of the key design decisions are made. On a new shape, I would do a mock-up to check fit, shape and detailing before making any adaptions and cutting out the design in the ‘real’ fabric. From here, each and every piece is sewn up within the same space from start to finish.
Do you think being based in Scotland has benefitted you?
I think that it was a great place for me to start my business. It is so important to have the support of your friends and family around you.
Have you noticed a difference being based down south now?
It’s taken me a while to settle in down south, I’m in my 3rd studio since moving to Leeds so it has been a bit of upheaval! I think the move has given me more confidence in what I do, this has definitely had a positive impact on my business – this might not necessarily relate to being based down south.
What are the biggest challenges as an indie fashion designer that you face?
I think the throwaway consumer mentality is a challenge to all independent fashion designers who work in a similar way to myself. I feel lucky that my followers really know my brand and support the ethos and value in how the items are made, which is really important. At the stage I am at knowing how to take the business up a notch is my current challenge and managing everything myself, I enjoy the designing and making side of the business that sometimes it is easy to give other important areas less focus!
Are ethics and sustainability important to you?
Yes! People who already know of the brand will know that everything is handmade in the UK (which is currently in my Leeds based studio). This value has always been so important to me and it is one of the brands key values. I try to encourage my customers and followers to invest in good quality clothing that will last rather than throw away fashion. The more people know about the time and effort that can go in to one piece the more each piece of clothing can be individually valued, loved, cared for and ultimately last much longer in turn reducing waste.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years time?
I don’t have a 5 year plan as such but I hope to have grown the brand in a sustainable and manageable way without compromising the company ethos. The aim would be to be able to employ people to help with growth and keep up with demand.
Here are all the outfit details if you’re curious:
Tshirt dress with rainbow pocket: Kerrie Aldo, £60 (buy here) – gifted
Tshirt with leopard print pocket: Kerrie Aldo, £40 (buy here) – gifted
Earrings: Catcher and Caught, Etsy
Denim shirt: Vintage, Chinemachine
Denim shorts: Vintage, Blue Rinse
Shoes: Converse, Schuh