As if A-levels weren’t hard enough – meet Aidan Carey, 18, from York, who launched his own fashion label while studying for his exams.
Like many people, Aidan suddenly had time off during the 2021 lockdown. He had ambitions to take a creative course in college, but knew he would need a strong portfolio alongside his application.
So he taught himself advanced skills in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator and created a completely hypothetical – at first – clothing brand as a project for his portfolio.
“As soon as I found myself researching names to see if they were already real businesses, I realized that this might actually be something I wanted to try,” Aidan said.
And the rest was history.
Although Aidan has been in streetwear since he was 16 and has aspired to create products on par or more with brands like Of-White, Represent and Supreme, it wasn’t always his dream to create. her own clothing retailer.
“The comical thing about my story is that I absolutely despised fashion and textiles in secondary school before I could drop it at GCSE.”
Aidan now plans to go to Liverpool University to do fashion branding.
Accord Apparel releases limited-edition style unisex collections and does not use gender-based sizing. It generally targets people between the ages of 16 and 30, but “we’re happy to see all ages and genders wearing our clothes,” Aidan said.
Accord Apparel’s vision is “fashionable, high quality apparel at competitive prices that everyone can enjoy”.
So far, the brand has seen three “drops”, with a fourth coming soon.
YorkMix spoke with Aidan to learn more about Accord Apparel, the process behind the brand and what its goals are for the future.
Learn more and stay up to date with Accord Apparel via the website or Instagram.
Q&A with Aidan Carey
Why the name “Accord Apparel”?
I spent a lot of time thinking about a name, and I wanted a name that was completely unique and easy to remember.
After countless hours of brainstorming, I finally came up with the word Accord. It means to give or grant someone power, status or recognition. A big word, and clothing has just been added to it.
What is the goal behind Accord Apparel?
My current goal is to be able to go out in public and see people wearing the clothes. That alone is enough to make me happy.
Another fundamental goal is for Accord to be global, I would like to be able to go on vacation to a foreign country knowing that I have customers with my products there.
I have a lot of digital goals that I aspire to achieve and will achieve. But they are not so interesting. My main goal is for the brand to one day be noticed by one of my many inspirations – for example, George Heaton (founder of Represent Clothing).
What does the process look like from design to manufacturing to availability to purchase?
The design begins when I’m sitting at my desk sketching and playing with the colors and different variations of each artwork.
Then I use Instagram stories to host polls to see what people like and dislike. Once I have an idea of what people want to be able to buy, I group them into a collection, decide on a brand aesthetic/color palette, and talk to my manufacturers in Spain and Latvia about how the products are made. .
I have a sample made, then once satisfied with the product, I market it by doing a photo shoot and posting it on social media. I pick a date to post it and put it on our website for consumers to buy.
In terms of timescale, it could take 1-3 months to produce a complete collection. Because even though the design of the products is great, I have to organize their production, design the branding and social media graphics and basically build an aesthetic for the release.
What was the reaction from customers?
Our customers love our clothes, our products emphasizing quality. Thus, almost all comments have been related to the comfort of our clothes and their fit.
Those who have already purchased our products come back because they know how good our products are.
How do you balance running your own clothing business with your A-level studies?
I set aside time in my week for college and time in my week for Accord. While this tends to fluctuate weekly. I’m still doing something for Accord, even though A-levels are the priority right now with exams coming up soon.
As I am a full-time student, I don’t have time to fulfill my orders or produce my products myself. So I have a more time efficient and environmentally friendly business model. I have an agreement with my manufacturer to produce our clothes to order. So when you place an order with us, your details are sent directly to them. They produce your clothes, pack them (to my specifications) and ship them to your doorstep just for you.
This means that there is no waste stock and the stock is only moved once. And while that means commands take longer to execute than I’d like, it did give me a lot more time.
And once your exams are over?
This will all change completely once my exams are over. I hope to have stocks stocked in the UK, faster delivery times and also better quality clothing in general, with a better customer experience overall.
But to wrap it up, I’ve done absolutely everything about the business except order fulfillment. From the incorporation of the company to the creation of the website, including the design of the products. I even direct the photoshoots, which my friends model for.
I’m incredibly proud to have gotten this brand off the ground and back on its feet. Now all I have to do is make it work.
What is your dream for Accord Apparel?
The dream is to see Accord worn by my idols and also to collaborate with brands that have inspired me.
But it’s a marathon not a sprint. These things will happen as long as I keep working hard. I would be delusional to think that this brand will be a success overnight. That’s not how it works.