We had a good chat with London-based fashion designer Patrick McDowell @patrick__mcdowell about his story, his ambitions and accomplishments, and various other topics that enabled us to know him better. After studying at Central Saint Martins, Patrick has gone on to reinvent the role of a fashion designer as we know it today.
He has already achieved very important prestigious goals in the industry, he was nominated by Anna Wintour for the Stella McCartney Today for Tomorrow Award in November 2019, and he interned at Burberry, working under Christopher Bailey before going on to launch his own brand in 2018.
Q: Who is Patrick McDowell? How would you define yourself?
A: Patrick McDowell is a sustainable fashion brand based in London, working across the fashion industry to reimagine brands overstock and fabrics into higher-value pieces for their customers. I’d define myself as someone who is holistically approaching sustainability, working to create authentic storytelling through clothing.
Q: You studied at Central Saint Martins, what made you want to pursue a fashion career?
A: I’ve been making clothing since I was thirteen. I grew up in a working-class background in a suburb of Liverpool seeing the transformational power clothing can have. I’ve always been so grateful to be a part of people’s wardrobes and in a small way contribute to those transformational moments fashion can bring.
Q: How is it like studying in one of the most prestigious art schools in the world?
A: At first I found it really hard, I’d come from a small town at 18 straight from school and I struggled. In the second year, I found my stride and recognized that it was in who I was and where I was from that held my strength.
Q: Your career says that you “reinvent the role of a fashion designer as we know it today,” what does this exactly mean?
A: It’s clear that in fashion the elephant in the room is guessing what people want and producing too much. I’ve always found that sustainability is about common sense and the current popular fashion business model seems to be lacking in it. I think it is the designers’ responsibility to not only design clothing but also the systems they sit within.
Q: Focusing now on your professional career, how would you define your style? How is your creative process?
A: Often working with existing pieces or reclaimed materials means that there is two steps to the design process. Designing first what you have in mind and then looking at what you actually have and doing the maths to see if it all fits together. Aesthetically I love the volume and cutting great shapes, I love to drape and see a piece come together.
Q: Some of your future projects include a capsule collection with Katharine Hamnett that comes out next week Friday 14th. Could you tell us about it?
A: Brexit has had a huge impact on sustainable designers in the UK, Katharine and I created a Capsule collection titled HELP. Working with London-based printers and workshops to reimagine the iconic Katharine Hamnett Teddy Jacket and slogan t-shirts. We are working together as UK-based sustainable designers to fight back against Brexit.
Q: Some of your collections include Catholic symbols such as the crismon and other shapes of catholic clothing. Why did you choose this theme for this collection named “Catholic Fairytales”?
A: Catholic fairytales was a follow-on from our digital show in July 2020, As a queer person raised in a Catholic Background I am aware of how damaging religion can be to queer children and I wanted to tell that story.
Q: You presented a digital fashion show named “Last Digital Supper,” how did you come up with the idea that you wanted to present a collection through such an innovative medium?
A: At the time in July 2020 we were in the middle of a pandemic and previously that it was very clear that the ability to create real clothing wasn’t a safe option. As we see the rise of digital clothing and the digital art world It made complete sense to me to pursue a digital alternative and we are super happy with the results.
Q: Besides this project, are you working in any other projects?
A: There are many exciting things coming in the next 12 months as I grow my reimagine collections to continue to save 1000’s of garments, Materials, and trims from landfills. Stay tuned to my socials to hear first!
Q: To conclude, I would like to ask you what kind of advice would you give to young talents who ant to pursue a fashion/art career but can’t find the courage to do it. What would you tell them?
A: I would tell them to follow their dreams, we live in a time where the rules are being re-written and those jobs that once held stability in the very near future won’t be stable at all. I’d tell them that if the working class queer boy from the suburbs of Liverpool can do it, then they absolutely can and should push forward with whatever it is they believe they are put on this earth to do. It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.