If there were ever a designer who needed no introduction, Stella McCartney is it. As anyone who didn’t spend 2012 living under a rock will be well aware, she designed the (very stylish) Team GB kit for the London Olympics. On top of that she continued creating ready-to-wear collections so chic they sold out in seconds and picked up both Designer of the Year and Designer Brand of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. Oh and on top of that she has FOUR children and from what I can gather, looks goddamn gorgeous all the time. Like I said, and no doubt didn’t need to, a very impressive lady. I was lucky enough to meet and interview Stella at her Adidas by Stella McCartney store back in July and was even luckier to do so again last week.
LPA: What was the inspiration behind your SS13 collection for Adidas?
SM: It’s just building on what we’ve done in previous seasons but really pumping it up. There’s a lot of colour, unashamed colour, matching and not matching. It’s about layering pastels, prints and brights. It’s just a bit wrong, which I love and I think is very courageous. I think that sportswear and sports in general for women is courageous. You have to really push yourself to do it. Getting up in the morning and exercising isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do but you know you’ve got to do it. This collection was really about encouraging that and inspiring something that’s not always so easy when yo’d rather chill out, watch telly and eat a brownie.
LPA: When do you exercise?
SM: I try and get it out of the way first thing in the morning so I can get on with my day. Time wise that’s when I can fit it in. I drop the kids off at school and then work out. This collection is really about encouraging outdoor sports as well. We wanted to celebrate bringing sports outside for summer and encourage people to look different and express themselves in a bold way. There’s a lot of sportswear out there and I really feel that we still bring something different to the market.
LPA: I can imagine that in some ways, designing sportswear might be even more challenging than fashion because of the practical requirements and the fact that to a certain extend, you’re re-designing the same garments. How do you manage to deliver something fresh each season?
SM: That’s a big part of this collaboration because it really is genuinely a sports performance brand. First and foremost it’s about performance for me and I love that because I don’t get to do it in my day job. You can put pretty much anything down the runway and give an excuse for having it there whereas with this range, if it doesn’t perform, it’s not in it. With that comes a lot of little alterations and challenges but I enjoy them. I think they’re really exciting and it’s really modern to have challenges like working with clima cool, techno fit and engineered pieces that you can only do a certain shape or a certain kind of design in. They’re important limitations they’re not just whimsical. We’re currently working with dyes that use no water and really trying to push ourselves in not only working with technical limitations but also environmental ones. If you’re working with a non water dyeing process for a t-shirt you only have one colour available to you but you’ve got to make it work for the right reasons.
LPA: Last time we spoke, you had finished designing the kits for team GB and we were all eagerly awaiting the London Olympics. How was the experience of seeing your designs on the medal winner’s podiums? Was there a particular moment that really stood out for you?
SM: It’s funny, it took up so much of my life last year and it was an incredible experience. Working on something like that and getting to be part of that in a very small way was just incredible. My memory of that is mainly just experiencing it like everyone else did. I think it was so surreal that when I watched the games it was just too huge to really think about the fact that I was seeing things I’d designed. Generally I think I just watched it like most people. When I saw one of the athletes on the podium I was a bit like “oh look, they’ve got my jacket on” but it quite overwhelming because it was so recognisable and because we hosted it, it was in every newspaper everyday. It became like it was another person. Would I do it again in 2016? I’d love to forever and ever! I’d like us to host it again.
LPA: 2012 was a pretty major year for you. Do you feel under pressure to really deliver something special or different during 2013?
SM: No because I think I’d already done it! All the timelines are so crazy on this kind of thing that it thankfully didn’t even cross my mind. I set my own standards for myself. I always feel like I have to really deliver no matter what it’s for or who it’s for because at the end of the day my name’s on the label and I want to be proud of it.
LPA: London 2012 has been praised for raising the profile of women in sport. Do you agree feel this has been the case? What steps should people within the sport and fashion industries take to ensure that this progress isn’t lost as we move forward?
SM: Yeah I think women’s sports are totally undervalued and my whole reason for doing the collaboration with Adidas all those years ago was to really give women a platform and an importance and give them pieces that they deserved. I still feel that there’s so much work to be done in that area. Men still drive the industry, their products still sell more and have more investment in the sport. There’s a million reasons to encourage women to do sports and that’s what I’m championing here. Having the right gear to do it in is so important and that was the whole starting point for me. I think men really take a pride in the technical side of sportswear, they get really excited by it, and I want women to be exposed to the same cutting edge techniques. I want to just help women understand that they deserve to have a t-shirt that looks really great and has a clima cool or a breathability to it. I’m all for re-educating women in how they wear sports clothes.
LPA: Do you feel that the line between fashion and sportswear has become more blurred in recent years?
SM: There’s always been a great energy in sportswear and fashion’s always drawn from different energies whether it’s sports or the art world. I think sportswear’s got a great edge to it and I’ve been drawn to those kinds of silhouettes at times. But to be honest, I think the lines always been very blurred. Look at the 80s, street style… I don’t think it’s particularly now that we’re seeing it. I think everything on the runway has a resurgence. Whether it’s sportswear influences or masculinity or surrealism, at some stage everything ends up on the runway.
LPA: Do you really push the eco side of things in your collaboration with Adidas?
SM: Yeah I do but Adidas actually, more than anyone else I’ve worked with, are really aware of it. I’ve actually learnt a lot from them, like not using PVC for example. I don’t use leather and fur in my own collections and it’s great working with Adidas because they don’t use fur and a bit of leather on some pieces but much less than most people in the industry. It’s a very like minded partnership and for the eco sensibility we have a set of rules and regulations and a percentage of every collection that has to be within them. It’s obviously something I encourage but they respond really well.
The Adidas by Stella McCartney store can be found at 97 Fulham Road, London, SW3 6HR and I highly recommend paying a visit because the SS13 collection is awesome!
Love Ella. X