A multi-tasking, dedicated, creative powerhouse is a phrase that perfectly describes our Designer & GM Alison Lennard.
She took 5 minutes out from her busy schedule to talk us through all things Philosophy, design and how to find a work-life balance.
How long have you been with Philosophy?
I joined in 2008 soon after moving to Sydney and have just celebrated my 10 year anniversary.
What do you love the most about working at Philosophy?
My team, they are all fantastic. We really are a family. I also love that I get to design for a “tea party of ladies” as Philosophy as a brand appeals to such a broad spectrum of boutiques and customers, I’m not pigeonholed into what I can and can’t create.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I knew at a very young age I wanted to design, so I pursued it as soon as I could. I took on extra work at school to let me do all the relevant subjects so I could get into Design School and I completed a BA in Fashion & Marketing. My first design role was with a UK department store called Debenhams and that was back in 1995. Before moving to Australia, I also held positions at John Lewis & Jane Norman as a sole designer.
What do you love about being a designer?
Everything. It’s not just a job to me; I couldn’t imagine being anything else. I love it when I get feedback that someone has loved something I’ve created; making someone feel special is priceless.
Ever since the early days of my career, Ive been lucky enough to travel the world and shop, that’s got to be described as a perk!
Where does your inspiration come from?
Anywhere and everywhere, and its different every season. The Philosophy customer isn’t dictated to by fashion trends, so it’s really just developing a style with a twist on what’s happening and making it relevant, timeless and beautiful.
My current obsession is Pinterest and I find a wealth of ideas for colour and print direction on there. Why not follow me, to see my concepts for S19 coming together.
I’m also a big fan of Instagram and find that a great source of styling inspiration and love how I get to see real women wearing their own pieces with creativity.
You are a designer of 3 brands, a mum to two young kids and still have a social life, how do you manage your work/life balance?
I wouldn’t say I have a social life, unless my sofa with a glass of wine and a bar of Cadbury counts!
I do have a wonderful group of girlfriends who make sure I have some “me” time though, and my husband and I always ensure we fit in some quality family time with the kids on the weekend. We all love Luna Park especially.
Mimi, our nanny is my savior though I couldn’t cope without her as I know unquestionably that the kids are being looked after and loved, which means when I’m at the office I can dedicate myself.
What is your all time favourite Philosophy piece and which collection was it from?
Oooh I’ve got more than just one, so that’s hard.
I guess I’d have to say Skinny our Jean, sadly no longer in the range but I must have had about twenty pairs! I think it was originally offered in Summer 2010.
I could give you at least one from every collection I’ve ever done though, so maybe we should do that as another article!
What do you think sets Philosophy apart from the competitive labels?
That we make 99% of the collection here in Sydney is our proudest achievement and one that our customers really appreciate. In a world of throwaway fast and wasteful usage, hand crafted pieces that are ethically made will always be treasured.
You’re an English girl living in Australia, is there an Aussie fashion garment that you love/hate?
To be honest my “relaxed” style is more indicative of Aussie style than it is of a Brit one, so maybe I was always destined to move here, so I wouldn’t say there is anything I hate. I do love that Aussie’s really care about their comfort.
The one thing I still get confused about is the seasons though, as even though I’ve been here 10 years I still want to say spring is released in Feb and winter in August, not the other way around.
Oh, and also terminology – I would have never referred to a pair of pants as pants, pants are trousers, or thongs as thongs, they’re called flip flops, thongs are underwear!
As you’ve mentioned seasons, do you have a season you prefer to design for?
I know it shouldn’t be the case, as the summer season is more important here, but personally I love winter dressing. I layer all my outfits, and often wear at least two tops even in the height of summer.
In terms of design though, Winter is also more fun as I generally have more to play with in terms of the qualities of the fabric, details required and the scope of the garment.
What are the criteria’s you use, when designing a new style or collection?
That’s easy, and the same for all the brands I design. The style and therefore collection as a whole must be comfortable, easy care and wear, adaptable, fit really well, be in good quality fabrication, made with impeccable quality and above all have a detail, colour, silhouette or trim that just turns a garment into a “lust/must have”.
We’ve asked our stockists what is the one word they would use to sum up Philosophy, what would you say it is?