New to sponsoring Indie Pattern Month this year is Ralph Pink Patterns. We love the Ralph Pink’s strong and confident aesthetic and Ralph’s passion for challenging us to expand our knowledge and to not be scared of the couture. We hope you are as excited as us to learn more!
Mel caught up with Ralph, the designer behind Ralph Pink Patterns, to find out more…
Hi Ralph! Welcome to Indie Pattern Month!
First up, tell us all a bit about your designs. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
My origins are as a fashion designer. I studied at London College of Fashion, then Middlesex. Originally my work was always focused on conceptual couture fashion, taking inspiration from everything and anything, to come up with unique pieces that aim to be different. I hope my patterns are an extension of that concept. I want to provide something a little bit different within the indie pattern scene every market should have variety!
I started in patterns when I was very young, cutting out and sewing together vogue patterns on the living room floor with my mum I tried quite ambitious projects and made a lot of mistakes but the more I failed, the more I pushed myself and the more I developed my ability.
A lot of sewists either love or dislike my products simply based on the level of construction involved. Some of the patterns can be complex, but the majority of people find it refreshing to work on something quite challenging. For them it’s about pushing their abilities to create more and more complex garments, purely for the love of learning. That said, there are a number of patterns on the site that cater to the less advanced sewist.
How did your come up with the name for your label?
I spent a lot of time thinking of interesting names and branding for the site, however, it seemed simpler and more intuitive to use my name. I was already known by a small online community, for tutorials and free sewing patterns, so it seemed like the obvious choice.
We’d love to know the story behind your business. What inspired you to create and sell patterns? How did it all start?
It started quite organically. Back in 2010, I quit my job in mainstream fashion to set up my own collection and couture label. I spent a lot of time documenting my design, development and construction process via a blog which still exists to this day. I built up quite a following by posting weekly video updates. This led to me offering video tutorials on various subjects such as digital pattern cutting, corset construction, print design, fashion illustration, etc. Towards the end I offered a range of digital patterns for free download. It was received so well that I decided to set up a sister site and sell patterns online full time.
Looking forwards, where would you like your business to be in five years time?
At this point, I still have around 50 patterns to add to the site. They’re still in storage and I’ve recently completed a collection of swimwear patterns. Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure when they’ll be released due to all my time being spent on a new business venture that me and an associate are working on. The more time I spend on it the more it feels like the future of Ralph Pink Patterns – It’s a very exciting time right now!
Where do you do all your work?
I currently work in a converted warehouse space with a collection of other creatives. It’s a lovely big bright space in the heart of London that was originally set up by a furniture restorer. It’s called the old bike shed and it’s become a home away from home. We spend most of our days making, building and coming up with crazy new ideas. There is always something going on and always a new project to get involved with. I have a large studio space on the top floor which I share with another designer. The space is decorated with beautiful midcentury pieces and objet d’art. There’s a lot of my old couture pieces and head dresses on various mannequins knocking around. All in all, the space makes for a very creative working environment – I love it!
What’s your favourite part of releasing a new design?
I think the most rewarding part of creating any product is the photoshoot! I have a small but close team of people that I use regularly and we have so much fun. The preparation is certainly taxing what with creating mood boards, styling the shoot and organising the samples, but on the day, when it all comes together, we have a fantastic time creating beautiful images. We often have a celebratory glass or two of Prossecco in the evening whilst we look over our hard work – it’s very rewarding!
Thinking of your gorgeous designs, what’s your favourite of all your designs so far, and why?
I love each and every pattern on the site, but if it came down to one, then it would be the Roxy Dress. It’s a lovely simple dress that is wonderfully flattering for a lot of body shapes. I chose to construct my sample using a gorgeous navy and white stripe. It’s the dress people always try on when they come round for tea.
Who or what inspires you with your designs?
To be completely honest I love Alexander Mc Queen’s work. He has been very influential to me in my earlier years. He is a trend leader and someone that will always be revered for his innate ability to shock and amaze. His work is not fashion, but art through the medium of fashion He pushes the boundaries of what is possible, both through technique and concept. It’s more about the garment rather than the wearer. He has always been at the forefront of my creativity. I loved reverseengineering his design development. Each time he released a collection, I would spend hours deconstructing his concepts and tracing their origins back to the research stage then try and apply his development process in my own work.
Now a-days it’s more about trend led fashion. In my existing job, as a sideline, I used to compile trend reports based on seasonal catwalk shows, high street fashion, magazine tears, mood boards and influential bloggers, in order to build the concepts for new collections. It’s this approach to fashion that I use when designing a collection or individual pattern for my own brand of patterns and garments.
Do you have any new patterns coming out soon?
As I mentioned before, I’m working very hard on a brand new project. It’s all very exciting and has been a labour of love for quite some time – two years to be precise.
Me and a software developer from Australia have teamed up to produce an online software platform that allows a sewist, with little or no pattern cutting knowledge, to automatically construct personalised basic blocks that are built using bespoke measurements, so you get an accurate fit first time. These blocks form the foundation for any design or style you wish to create.
Once you’ve taken your measurements, chosen your block style (trouser, bodice, skirt, etc) selected the type of fit, decided on dart placement and added design elements, you can download your pattern and adapt it further using our online pattern cutting tutorials. We’ll show you how to add design elements such as necklines, collar stands, sleeve variations, pleats the list is endless. The site is essentially a crash course in pattern making using automaticallydrafted accuratefitting blocks. We’ll be adding to the list of tutorials weekly or monthly, so there is always something to learn.
We’ve also creating a profile system that allows you to store measurement sets, this means you can draft hundreds of accurately fitting blocks at the touch of a button without having to remeasure. The idea is to allow the sewist to take complete control of their design from the very beginning.
We are kicking things off with the bodice, torso and dress block, with more blocks being added as we grow, including jeans, trousers, swimwear, corset templates and jersey wear.
At the moment we’re just building the website and testing the user experience so far it’s been very successful!
We’ve named it PatterLab and it should be out for general release later this year. You can keep up to date with the project at patternlab.london