Recently everyone has been jumping on the “I’m a t-shirt designer” bandwagon and it’s hard to actually find unique items amongst the mass-produced, mass-worn tees you find everywhere! This is what makes Lillies of the Alley so special. The brand is the brainchild of Nathalie McDonnell who came up with the idea nearly four years ago and it has been growing ever since. It all started with friends and passers-by complimenting her customised t-shirts. Nat wanted to produce unique designs by bringing an element of her family’s Rock N’ Roll, music industry background to the brand.
Her t-shirts caught the eye of a Topshop buyer, which gave Nathalie the opportunity to showcase five of her pieces under the Lollipop boutique name at Topshop Oxford Circus.
Working with Topshop & Arcadia gave Nathalie a platform to develop her designs from t-shirts to a brand status- watch out for the hoodies, jumpers, baby-grows and much more!
Her collections have since been featured in GQ and HUBYO and are now available to buy online at their official online storewww.lilliesofthealley.com as well as their boutiques at Runway Republic & Asos Marketplace.
Nat says: “I knew this could be something really special when Debbie Harry (of Blondie, possibly the coolest woman on the planet) wore a hoody I had made her. Seeing my idol in one of my own designs was amazing and definitely a small taste of success.”
I interviewed Nat to find out more about her, her inspirations and how she feels about HSFW.
What inspired you to start up the brand?
I wanted to create tees I couldn’t find. It started out of my passion for creating graphics and prints and my passion for all things visual that I wanted to put on a tee. Ive always loved t-shirts as they can be worn once or kept a lifetime. They are the humble underrated piece in our wardrobe that can totally style an outfit up or down. I also loved the idea of being able to wear a cool tee through the day and dress it up at night. Tees 24/7!
How would you describe your clothes?
Eclectic I’d hope. We have many inspirations and these are always reflected in our collections. We love to start a tees life with a concept or idea and work it from that, bit more meaningful so the wearer can connect with her tee! Sounds crazy! We like to contrast image with bold colours too, make the tee centre of attention! Our tees have huge egos….. It’s all about them…!
Have you always been interested in fashion?
Yes always in one way or another. I grew up in a musical household and I think music and fashion & image go hand in hand. I went to school with (fashion designer) Danielle Scutt and we were always making things. She made me a really cool knitted crop top for my Barbie once and I remember us always making scrunchies and jewellery. So the pash for fash and being creative and just making things, I think, was always there.
If you weren’t in fashion what career would you have chosen?
I did a degree in graphics and advertising so I would have probably chosen some kind of art direction I think. That aside I love animals so I think had I not gone down the design route I would have loved to have helped animals in some way.
Which designers inspire you?
I love Danielle Scutts collections and I’m a big Marc Jacobs fan. Alexander McQueen was and is amazing and of course Patricia Field rock.
If you could collaborate with any designer, who would you choose?
Marc Jacobs or Danielle Scutt and Patricia Field.
What do you enjoy most about creating your own lines?
The creative freedom & the thrill you get from designing & creating collections and seeing them through from start to finish. It’s always awesome to hear back from customers who love their tees. It’s great to be able to put our little creative stamp on things.
How did you get involved with HSFW?
We met through twitter.
How is preparation going?
Going ok! Just busy trying to bring it all together, lots to think about…lots to do!
What are you looking forward to most about attending?
Just being a part of it all and getting together with everyone. Be great to show on the catwalk and see a live response always great to see how people react. Good to show in the flesh rather than everyone seeing your collections on screen only, brings them to life and you can see everything 3D! We’re hyped to be a part of it all bring it on!
I love the idea of unique t-shirts, and why not make them into a stylish fashion piece. I personally love to wear clothes that no one else has so I see LOTA being a huge success.
By Gem Dorling