5 Minutes With Alice Temperley, Founder & CEO, Temperley London

After establishing Temperley London in 2000 with the opening of her first store in London's Notting Hill, Alice Temperley's designs have achieved worldwide recognition. Notable wearers of her outfits are The Duchess of Cambridge, Pippa Middleton, Penelope Cruz and Thandie Newton. We caught up with the brain behind the brand when it recently had a pop-up in Selfridges.

Alice Temperley

Congrats on your recent pop-up inside Selfridges! How did it feel to have a foothold in such an iconic and world-famous department store?

Selfridges have been an important wholesale partner for a long time. It is amazing to have the opportunity to showcase the summer 2018 collection in such substantial space on the second floor.

The collection transports us to the Temperley Riviera, where the summer never ends. Easy palazzo pants, ankle skimming cardigans and stretch cotton jumpsuits alongside. Hand painted, spiraling cacti spines inspired by the lush gardens of the Mediterranean which adorn textured seersucker sundresses. This horticultural theme flows into embroidery; aerial views of symmetrical French topiary gardens combined with sheer polka dot chiffon and tulle ruffles.

Tell me the story behind Temperley.

I studied for five years at Central St Martins College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art where I focused on textiles. I was making dresses during my student days to pay my way.

After graduating I worked for fabric mill in Italy and then lived in Hong Kong for six months. On returning to London I put my first collection together, it was small, only about 25 pieces, that I hand printed and embroidered. I secured about 20 wholesale accounts which was very exciting at the time. When I started producing and shipping the collection was when I really started to learn about the business side. There were so many logistics to consider.

I was always encouraged to be creative as a child, and having funded my student career by selling my own creations this gave me the appetite to launch a brand.

How is Temperley addressing some of the challenges facing the retail industry as a whole?

My biggest challenge is to find the balance between my vision and the reality of the market. Fashion retail is a challenging industry, whether you are independent or part of a big luxury group.

Being independent gives me more creative freedom however, it is very hard work as the industry is fast paced and ever evolving… it is key to stay relevant to be successful.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Temperley.

I grew up on my parents cider farm in Somerset. I have three younger siblings and our upbringing was very free spirited. We didn’t have a television so days were spent outside, on my mother’s sewing machine or selling earrings that I had made to my father’s customers.

Somerset and my up-bringing are a very important part of the DNA of Temperley London.

What’s the most rewarding part of running Temperley London?

Seeing women wearing my designs. I like to instill a sense of fantasy and escapism into my clothes – so the wearer is transported to another world.

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

When I first started it was extremely challenging as I was doing absolutely everything on my own.

The hardest thing at first is finding loyal hard working people who understand the industry and your vision for you brand.

Setting up a business is not easy but being young, strong and driven, and possibly a little naive worked to my advantage. I love making clothes and I am passionate about the process, textiles and fabrics.

It’s always exciting to see the end result. Being passionate about what you do is the most important thing.

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