Noblivity Spotlights Emerging Designer James McAloon
Company/Designer Name: Excentree | James McAloon
Designer Background Summary:
I am James McAloon; I am Law graduate from The University of Birmingham UK. I turned my hand to fashion after having been very creative my whole life. I like to build things, create things. This applies not only to our garments but the building of a Brand that is Excentree. Our brand is as much a part of our creation as our clothing and we hope that people will come to know our brand with fond affection.
How did you get started?
In August 2007 on an airplane traveling from Dubai to South Korea, myself and my fiancé at the time, sat considering our future plans. Airplanes do give you the idle time that sometimes wouldn’t exist elsewhere in our hectic lives. We decided that we wanted to take positive action to enhance the consumer market. Fashion was to be our outlet and the process began.
What inspires your designs?
Excentree’s designs are inspired by life. Now I know that is a pretty broad category to be inspired by, so hopefully we will be innovative for many decades to come. We were inspired to begin by our love for clothing and the planet we live in and on. As a result our mission statement was soon formed “to keep our customers and our planet looking unique and beautiful.” Excentree draws on my experiences from traveling and living internationally especially of my time spent in South Korea. Some of our motif designs are created by a talented Korean Artist ‘Yuli’ and we hope she will continue to inspire us with her designs. In the future we hope to grow and expand our horizons to all manner of designs but as creatively minded as I was at the beginning of the Excentree project we thought it best to start simple and build on solid foundations, like the roots of the trees that we help our customers to plant we hope to have multiple branches on the Excentree.
How would you describe your design style, design signatures and who is your targeted customer?
Currently our design style is aimed toward the casual smart market, with our design signature being vibrant, motifs, designs and colours that promote conversation and comment. We hope to attract the eco, ethical conscious customer with our green message but we also aim to keep our garments main stream and popular so as to involve people who may not normally choose the green option. Our prices are targeted at bringing organic, ethical and eco fashion to a wider audience. As our products are exclusively limited edition we are aiming to provide the high street price tag coupled with couture rarity.
What designers inspire you?
Honestly a difficult question as I am not the average fashion school graduate and possibly lack the experience or knowledge of such, but I’ll tell you honestly, fashion is a journey for me not just born in the clothes. Classic designers such as Coco Channel inspire me because the message is simple make clothes that people feel comfortable in and that they can wear elegantly. Christopher Raeburn the British designer inspires me because of his green and ethical message; he creates great items that are incredibly versatile while recycling using excess pieces to create garments from fabric that would have otherwise been wasted.
What obstacles did you have to overcome? How did you overcome them?
The 2 years and 3 months after beginning was a hectic time I set about researching, learning, stumbling, failing and succeeding. It may or may not come as a surprise to you but all these were inevitable. I was at the time an inexperienced idealistic, yet creative entrepreneur setting out on a journey I had no idea would take me to where I am today. Excentree the name was born within a few hours, it was something that seemed to have always been with me and it fit. Our green yet off centre clothing line had just the right name. Yet the name, as well as a meeting with a Korean artist, friend and now Excentree designer, Yule, was the only thing that was really born for a while as I beavered away learning as much as I possibly could about fashion, clothing, processes, the environment, cotton, designers, web design, stylists, the list is endless. Fortunately after 12 months of intense study I emerged from the books and computer screen, and I was ready to move forward, or at least I thought I was. I had it; we were going to produce organic cotton t-shirts with simple motifs printed to order, and plant one tree for every one hundred t-shirts sold. It was not long before I realized that the reality of quality and the necessity of style, could not be achieved in this manner.
I wanted to produce small to make sure we didn’t create garments that we didn’t have a market for. The problem was trying to get a manufacturer with the correct credentials to work with a new fashion label on such small quantities. We were not only looking for small quantities we were looking for a producer with the correct ethical credentials. It was not easy but with some hard negotiation and reassurances from us that we would continue to work with the producer, we brokered a deal and I will be eternally grateful to our producer for having the faith in Excentree.
Since August 2008 our vision had grown and we wished to provide one tree with every garment, which would guarantee our customers a reduced Carbon Footprint of up to two tonnes. We also wished to keep the Excentree label within the category of affordable for all. During my research I had noticed that many organic, eco products came with an inflated price tag, this was not going to be the Excentree way. We would reduce our margins and take less profit to achieve our goal of providing organic, ethical and eco fashion garments at affordable prices while not compromising on style or quality.
It was not until August 2009 when I met Rob that our project began to really become a reality. It was like magic; Rob was the man with the TREES. A Roman philosopher said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” We spent the next months collating every piece of the diverse puzzle that we had gathered from every corner of the earth during the preceding two years and put it together. We produced a small range of high quality organic cotton tees for women and men with meaningful artistic motifs by Yuli and a more jovial theme by myself. We were finally able to meet all our organic, ethical and eco desires. All garments are made from organic cotton, one tree is provided with each garment, the hang tag is made from seeded paper, a donation from each sale goes toward the Excentree GIVE Foundation and all the garments are limited edition.
The start may not have been overly original, white t-shirts with motifs, but the quality of the package was exceptional, and we all have to start somewhere. Excentree will be involved in eco fashion for many decades to come, and although don’t expect to see the extravagance of designers such as Alexander McQueen, or the elegance of Coco Channel just yet, there is a chapter in the Excentree book that will read, “Pushing the Boundaries”.
What has been your greatest moment on your journey so far?
Excentree’s greatest moment so far has been to be able to help offset around 125 Tonnes of CO2 for our customers. Apart from this fact everything about the journey has been enjoyable and exciting. There is never a dull moment in my life and that is what I love.
What has been the biggest change in your designs so far?
The biggest change; well having made our first release in November 2009 there has been little time for change up until now, but our Spring Summer Collection will definitely provide the platform. We will have a big splash of colour which was absent from our first offering and we will also be venturing into children’s clothing and possibly if everything works out accessories. Watch this space.
If money were no object what would you do right now?
I’d work harder to make that money help other people. There are two categories here; first people being in desperate need of help due to poverty, and second people starting out in business with good ideas who need some financial backing. Give me 10 years and I hope to be able to tell you it has become a reality.
What are the best and worst things about being a designer?
Sometimes it can be a very lonesome experience, to be creative you have to be completely focused and then when you want to unwind you find that everyone has already left while you were getting deep into it. That goes for designing and business. The best thing is seeing your work blossom, when it walks down the street in front of you, or you get a mention in the Daily News, or when you see the work you are doing helping other people. The Excentree brand aims to give back in everything it does from farmer to front row at a fashion show. So Excentree is probably the best thing about being a designer.
Describe your typical day?
My day is hectic but always interesting. I am not an avid morning person, but I am improving. I start at an average time 8 am reading emails and responding to people via my various social media outlets, facebook, youtube, twitter and such like, that usually takes a while. Then I usually do some exercise, skipping and core work, my body needs to be worked to keep my mind fresh and focused. Then I spend the next 9 or more hours from about 10:30 focusing on ensuring Excentree is giving the most that it can be to everyone in the world. For the first 2 years it was all about ensuring our product could offer our customers a real brand experience and making sure we could back that up with real quality throughout the process. The last 3 months have been spent trying to make sure everyone knows we exist, so a lot of keyboard tapping and phone calls have been required. Hopefully a balance is emerging.
What’s your philosophy of life?
Work hard for me, work harder for my family, and work hardest for others. What I mean by this is when I offer something to the world I want it to go above and beyond their expectations. I am also a customer in many things I do and there is nothing worse than being disappointed in something you have invested time or money in. So everything I do in life I make sure that it is truly exceptional because if I know I like it then I know others are likely to as well.
If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing! But I would love to see the journey on video tape.
When will you know you have made it?
I will know I have made it when Excentree is a household name alongside Ralph Lauren and Kellogg’s.
Our tee collection is now available in the US at The MarketPlace Noblivity.com