This month we celebrated our first birthday – what a journey! Through a global pandemic, Brexit onset, and the usual ups and downs of starting a new business, we have navigated the choppy waters and popped up smiling. We couldn’t have come this far if we hadn’t worked so well as a close-knit team.
To mark the milestone, we got together with our brilliant designer Vicky. Here are some snippets of Vicky and Izzey chatting as they shared a few portions of XV birthday cake.
Izzey Hung: I met Vicky about three years ago. A work connection put us in touch, she said she had found the perfect match for me. We both drove two and a half hours for the initial meeting and we hit it off straight away.
Vicky Sanders: I’d worked in the fashion and interiors industries for 13 years, often looking closely at weave print and textile design. My first full day with Izzey involved a trip to Cowes for me to have a look around. I don’t know the Isle of Wight at all. I took my mum and the three of us had a great day taking in the atmosphere. I snapped hundreds of photos that became drawings: boats, rope, rigging, waves and a regatta that happened to be taking place. That’s how we developed the signature Cowes range (now also in fabric and wallpaper); I wanted the collection to be a reflection of that day.
IH: My first major brief for Vicky was to source a complex jacquard-type weave for our bedding fabric. We took a trip to Portugal and found the perfect supplier and we also got to know each other better.
VS: That visit was so much fun! It felt more like a girls’ trip but it was also hugely useful. Afterwards, I had the idea of developing some accessories for XV, and we started to look at ideas for printed products.
IH: I tend to come up with the theme and Vicky takes it and gets creative. For our partnership with the Hampshire Wildlife Trust I had lots of lockdown walks and took loads of photos of seaweed and sent them to Vicky. We then both went onto the HWT website, which has plenty of gorgeous images.
VS: Print is my specialist media and nature one of my favourite themes. I was head of design for Matthew Williamson for a number of years, a role that involved looking at lots of botanical images, so the Wildlife Trust collection was a perfect project for me. I was absorbed with drawing the cool sea creatures, some of which you could never imagine finding off our shores. We used bright colours, a real departure from the classic XV ranges. With any project I end up with a whole folder of amazing drawings, each one a unique work of art.
IH: Yes, look out for some artwork ranges coming up – make room on your walls!
VS: Those initial drawings are so important to us, as well as how they are translated into something sustainable, beautiful and practical. We spend a lot of time looking at the detail. From buttons to print to finish, here at XV we are very detail focused and that’s what makes ours a luxury product.
IH: We’re thinking about developing a Nantucket theme next. Think: beautiful houses and parasols, hydrangeas, shady porches. I’d also love to do one around Yarmouth, where our shop is located. We bring out a collection and a half every year, always thinking ahead.
VS: We have a great collaborative energy: we’re both unstoppable, we meet for walks, we love bouncing ideas around and we have the same vision. We’re very clear with suppliers about what we want, and that makes the working process much more enjoyable. We’ve come so far this year, it makes us proud to look back. Now it’s all about where to go next… Sleepwear in sustainable fabrics, we think, and more accessories. Stay tuned!
IH: It really doesn’t feel like year, XV was in the planning for such a long time! With the XV shop in Yarmouth opening in time for spring and our ranges continually growing, people are beginning to recognise us. The rest of the year will be all about growing strategically. And sailing, of course. Always sailing!!