Young designer Raffaele Ascione is getting ready for his first catwalk show at Vauxhall fashion week. He successfully went through CSM Fashion MA, graduated in 2011 and has have chosen a hard path of creating his own brand. 1Granary talked to him about some challenges he faced in the fashion world beyond Central Saint Martins.
Could you tell a bit about the collection you will be showing?
The collection is a celebration and a mix of the thing which I’ve liked for a long time. There’s no big concept, as I’m not really a conceptual designer, it’s more about personal decisions. Sequins, lace, sweatshirt jersey… This season I tried to do things which I was a bit scared of, did more sportswear pieces and used more colours, was pushing my aesthetics in a new direction.
When did you start working on the collection?
I started in early May, so it’s a collection in three and a half months for 16 looks, I work quite fast. The next two and a half weeks are going to be mental!
What was the hardest in doing the collection?
Money and being realistic on how much you’re gonna spend on each thing, what kind of sponsorship you’re gonna get, how you’re gonna get your funding… Money was the most tricky bit. Everything else… Nothing can bee too hard, there is always a way of finding the solution.
So how did you solve the money issue?
I did a sponsume campaign which is an online crowd funding, got some money through that. We had over 700 pounds. Last year it was two thousands pounds. I think it’s good because people start to follow you, believe in your product. Then thankfully I raised some money through a teaching job I did, and as well I turned 30 this year so all my presents were money. My family in Germany and in Italy, all my friends in London all collected money.
So how did you start showing at the Vauxhall fashion week?
Last season I was contacted by Vauxhall fashion scout to apply. I did, and they offered me a show but I thought the show was going to be too big and wanted to take it step by step, so we started with a presentation. The outcome was great, amazing press, some buyers started following me, I had many private orders… Also friends started ordering my clothes. When friends start ordering your clothes, that means you’ve done your job well, amazing feeling!
How was it this year?
This year I got shortlisted for pretty much everything, for Fashion Fringe, Fashion East, nothing had worked out, but then Vauxhall offered me a catwalk show, and I am quite happy about that. .
Do you get a lot of help from the fashion week people?
Their greatest support is that they believe in me, and the catwalk show is mostly sponsored. Everything else I do myself. I do my own PR, this season I have a girl who’s helping me, as last season that killed me. I couldn’t do any technical work because I was just on the computer non-stop. My greatest help is amazing interns and my friends. We are all creative and help each other all the time. One of my friends was my stylist, others did all my graphic design, do my website, I really appreciate their support.
What advice could you give to young designers who start their own brand?
You need to be willing to work with really little, like me, as I work from my room. You need to be hungry, devoted, not to be scared of the business side and the paper work. I can’t really say much as I’m only starting myself, I started only last year… These days I only do paper work and it’s frustrating but I hope it’s going to be my business eventually and the business part have to be fun as well, otherwise it is not going to work out. You need to be realistic. In college you are very creative and explorative, but when you are going to the real world, clothes need to be selling, you need to be aware what type of designer you are.
Are you happy with your decision to set up your won brand? Especially comparing to the experience of working for large fashion houses like Max Mara?
I’ve always wanted to do my own brand. It’s not always easy, there is a month when you have no money, or a month when you have a good bit of money. As long as I can pay my rent, keep working, and now and then go for a drink, and I am allowed to do what I want to do, I am happy. Especially after doing MA at Central Saint Martins. It was hardcore… Such an amount of work, but such an amazing lesson, Louise is great, and she’s probably part of why I am doing this as well, she opened my eyes on what I’m able to do and doing what I’m afraid to do.
Interviewed by Anastasiia Fedorova