A Look Behind the Scenes of Made of Carpet

Behind the Scenes made of carpet

An ‘Inspiring Indies’ Interview with Made of Carpet.

We got the inside scoop on indie fashion brand Made of Carpet who are responsible for bringing stylish, quality carpet bags to a new generation, as the must-have fashion gift. In this interview company founder Irina Bragin talks inspiration, industry and the craftsmanship behind this inspiring independent. Take a look …

What inspired you to start Made of Carpet?

The idea to bring Carpet Bags from oblivion back to life came gradually. As if by itself there began to appear information about Victorian fashion, technology etc. I then decided to buy a bag made ​​of carpet and to create my own opinion. I have bought several bags from UK, USA and Europe. Well, none of them were made of real carpet – velvet, tapestry, furniture fabric, simple cloth, kilim, mosque mat … anything you can imagine, except carpet itself.

Absence of competitors is certainly a good thing, but I had to start creating bags (last made 150 years ago) out of the modern materials and by 21st century’s technologies from absolute zero. It took almost a year to find the right suppliers and manufacturers, and to make all necessary business preparations before the first collection was ready to launch in spring 2011.

What can you tell us about your indie business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?

To be an indie business is very demanding matter – you have to know everything and to be everywhere. You have to know every aspect of it. Have an idea about every step and task. Well … ideally.

In corporate world you are a small screw of a big machine. It is easier, but not rewarding at all.

What’s your role in the business? What are your favourite things about your job / running an indie business?

I am the business. All decisions and glory are mine, but if you need somebody to blame – it will be me as well. 
After years working in corporate world of London City, my favourite thing about my job is that I have no job. I have the business and only I decide what is good and appropriate for it. There is almost no rat race in my life anymore; no dictated hours, no over-packed public transport, and one of the most important things – I decide who I want to work with.

Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?

I do not have employees. And I will carry on this way as long as possible. 
Instead I have freelancers and associates. None of them depend on me and we all are absolutely equal businesses’ owners. It makes us partners. I do not give orders; I buy their goods and services.
 In my opinion this is much healthier working relationship, than “boss-employee” pattern. Now I can confess – I have never been reliable and honest employee myself and I do not trust that business model.

The owner of the factory we buy our carpets from is beautiful lady, very open-minded and adventurous. Thanks to her, the carpet we use is really unique – it is made especially for our purposes. 

Our bag manufacturers are highly professional and reliable people. It is a family owned business and I trust them with no doubts.

Also we use services of freelance photographers, exhibition stand-helpers, translators, PR people, event organisers … all on the basis of equality.

Here at Piccadilly Lane, we believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at Made of Carpet?

I strongly believe that in fashion all unique high quality items are handmade by real professionals. And the only two types of businesses are capable of it – indies and high couture brands.

The difference between them is an additional zero in couture brands’ prices. 😉

Our product quality is determined by professional people with whom we work and good strong partnerships between us. Also despite the cost control, we do not skimp on trimmings and quality of materials.

Last year you had a catwalk show at London Fashion Week. What can you tell us about the event?

We had lot of publicity and interest within and after the show. Because our main revenue stream is e-commerce retail from ready stock, all this kind of publicity visibly boosts sales.

Preparation to each show takes a lot of time and effort because we do bags, not dresses, but our models still have to wear something to showcase. We prefer not to collaborate with any other designer, but create our own costumes for each catwalk. 
For September’s show there were cream dresses for girls and trousers for boys. In February we had a show within Britain’s Top Designer Competition and we made Victorian dresses for our 5 female models.

You currently specialise in carpet bags? What inspires you about this area of design? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection? 

Yes, we do Carpet Bags, Carpet Purses and Wallets for women and men. For now it will stay this way, but I have couple of ideas for the future. Watch the space 😉

Our Carpet Bags are the Renaissance of a Victorian fashion treasure. This is the first and main idea and most of the inspiration comes from it.

Your products are based on both fashionable and historical points of view. What can you tell us about how these influences inspire your designs?

As I have said, our Carpet Bags are Renaissance of Victorian fashion treasure. Also Mary Poppins was my very first book I have read myself (I was 6). And let me tell you something – if you did not read the book, but only watched the movie, you do not know the story. The book is far more intriguing and even has some elements of horror. I love it!

Your collection shows great attention to detail and quality. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved?

We are literally pioneers, combining tens of parameters and requirements; avoiding lot of restrictions of unusual material and 150-year old technology. We do this without compromising on quality, while still controlling the cost.

Carpet is a very difficult material to work with. Actually the carpet we use fills and looks like proper carpet, but it does not exist outside of the fashion world – it’s made especially for us. The trick is that we use carpet made of high quality yarn that is unbendable in real life, but after some technical reconfigurations it is become bendable and ready to become a Carpet Bag.

Other advantages are:

The carpet is rainproof (there is a special adhesive cover on the back side) and easy to maintain by carpet foam.

It does not leave fuzz on your clothes like those bags made of thin viscose mosque mat do (thin mats, people take to mosque to stay on while pray).

Also we use unique frames (metal clasps), made especially for us by my design.

Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?

In our price range we are the one and only brand that makes bags out of real thick piled carpet.

Other brands that issued Carpet Bags within their collections are Burberry (see how their bags correspond with our model), Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren and Maison Martin Margiela, but of course their prices are much higher (more than 10 times higher!).

We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?

We are all unique and our appearance must be unique too. Today our streets are full of almost identical twins, created by big high-street chains. It kills people’s personality and self-esteem.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite independent business and why?

I have just recently met Brazilian Londoner Sebastian – the designer and owner of Sebastian London. His dresses are SO beautiful – they make me speechless. And the most important thing – those dresses not just look good from the proximity, but also are very fine quality from the close view.

The CEO of Fashions Finest fashion events planning group Deborah St Louis was wearing one of his creations at the BRIT Award Ceremony. As the official Goodie Bags Partner of BRIT Awards 2015, I was invited to the Ceremony and had the chance to invite Deborah too.

& now why not take a look at the collection! Visit the Made of Carpet website.

You can also find more indie fashion boutiques right here in the directory.

Posted by Charlotte 10:00 13/04/15

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