Mckillop is one of those companies that has been with UNB since the begining I think. We have talked to them a few times. This time I asked the guys on the site to submit some questions to ask Ryan. Here is an interview that we hope give you a better insight into Mckillop U/W
You created a lot of new styles, how are the new styles doing?
The collection of Mckillop items has grown significantly due to the fact that in March we opened our own factory. We can create items in real time based on our needs at the moment. Since we are made in Canada there is no need for us to also plan a year in advance. The new design’s are doing far better then I had anticipated and this is partly due to the fact that we engage our customers on facebook (www.facebook.com/Mckillopuw) and they have an opportunity to participate in the design process.
What feed back has you gotten from the upgrades in the waistband logo (used to be a tach, not its woven in)
The change in our waistband has provided us the luxury of becoming a real player in the underwear game, We are proud to be new and this was a change that our growth allowed. Also we have come up with a couple of red waistbands that our customers picked on Facebook and Twitter. This is such an exciting experience to interact with people and ask their opinions, and not just fro the sake of social media, when I ask the clients opinions I take my hands off the designer’s steering wheel and allow you to drive the car- per say.
You are designing swimwear, what can you tell us about the new swimwear?
Mckillop SWIM is one of the post exciting and challenging lines I have created. I am not ashamed to admit it but it has been an interesting battle for us. In May I wanted to create 1 swim suit to add to our underwear offerings and then I decided 1 was just not enough. Then in true Mckillop fashion I also decided that a simple bathing suit would not cut it to fit within the brand. I went back to the drawing board and created extremely complicated designs that are very time consuming. But the Designs are beyond my expectations. Swim has become the jewel in my crown because they are so flattering to the male figure. Brightly colored nylon covered in black fishnet mesh: they provide a hypnotic look to them and they hide what needs to be hidden and showcase what you would like too. Also when you move it shifts with your body and creates folds and gathers that accentuate your assets. SWIM has also been on the forefront of social media for us because due to the late start to SWIM we have started the Mannequin Project- Until al 91 swim suits are completed we have been photographing our SWIM line on a mannequin and posting it to www.MckSwim.com minutes after it has been made, then to Facebook. Quite an exciting journey for us. Once all of the swim suits are completed then we will have a proper photo shoot with a model.
What has been your biggest challenges in creating swimwear?
The biggest challenge is that the SWIM fabric is extraordinarily difficult to sew, the threads in the fabric are so closely woven to avoid water penetration that even getting a sewing machine needle through it is hard. Luckily we have overcome that obstacle and are now in full production of our SWIM line. The funny thing is that I was never going to launch it till 2013 and when I started in May 2012 I thought I was getting an early start – but the stars wanted us to launch in 2013 and once it is shot on a model it will be 2013 – so never play with fait, it always has a better plan for yourself.
What brought up the underwear a MUSE program? How well is it doing?
MUSE is our Monthly Underwear Subscription Experience and I was very reluctant to start it. It took some convincing from a friend of mine to do it but it has far exceeded my expectations in the fitst week. The Name especially was an accident but how perfect for the title of our surprise monthly experience. I hesitated because so many people have done it and mostly it is used to off load items that don’t sell. Since we do not have sale items nor do we carry stock cause everything is made especially for each customer I needed a way to make this is creation and not an off cast. I was looking at a pile of sample fabrics and I found a Sports Mesh that I have been dying to use and thought lets go outside the box and make something sporty. This design was amazing and I knew that all of our customers would like it too, but there was not enough fabric to include it into our main collection so I thought about MUSE. Also I have a large following of the best customers and I try to send out my appreciation but I thought for those who are most loyal why not give them these amazing one of a kind pieces and at 40% off and free shipping as well. This also allows the most loyal of customers to help with the experience part. As you know customer involvement is the utmost of importance and this way every month our customers can give their opinion on new items and whether or not these should go out to the masses. I am just as excited every month as the clients are- Its a chance for me to design and create something new every month. In this industry you can get lost in the business of it and I want to keep creating as often as possible and MUSE is the way to do it.
Does you think the MUSE monthly subscription designs will fall in line with the traditional McKilliop pairs, or will these be a chance to branch out in maybe some unexpected ways with short production amounts.
Unexpected for sure! One thing that is really exciting is that I can design whatever I like – meaning the monthly subscriptions regardless of their inexpensive price point will allow me to treat the world as my oyster and I can create even more expensive items if I like because there are smaller volumes. I treat loyalty as my highest commodity and all of my customers are loyal and whenever possible I like to treat my clients to something special. With MUSE there are no expensive photo shoots and I don’t need to source out massive amounts of supplies so this really lets my imagination run wild.
What inspires your underwear collections, styles, etc.?
My clients inspire my collections followed by fit – I would never claim to be the best (no one ever can claim to that with diverse tastes) but I aspire to do mybest and in that I feel it is my duty to listen to my clients, (whether contrary to my own beliefs or not) and to produce items that fit and make them feel good. Confidence is not based on what the product looks like, it is what exudes from the person who is wearing the garment and I believe that my hard work creates confidence in my clients. Also knowing that they are created with so much passion also allows the wearer to feel that they are a part of something. If my clients are happy then I am happy. With social media I can learn first hand what their Experience is like and if clients are not happy then I choose another road to take them on. I have started to recently say that my clients are steering this ship and I do not have an ego that will stand in their way. For example the newest red and white waistband coming out in mid Nov. I posted a picture asking if people liked a stripe on it or not. I personally didn’t like the stripe but I was wrong. I didn’t make it my way just for the sake of being the designer I made it to their specifications. I will always continue to run my business this way. Even though it has created obstacles in the industry.
To expand on the obstacles – Since Mckillop is now creating items in real time , press are not familiar with this new way of doing things. We get requests for next years items and I have to respond that “I have no Idea.” It is funny but it is true. I have always said we are on a journey together and it is so true, more then ever. Because when you see a design in social media you are seeing it at the exact same moment that we are.
What is next for McKillop?
Very similar to the answer I just gave the things that I know for sure are that we will be expanding the Elevate enhancement line in 2013, We will also be expanding the Relax Boxer line to include colors. And that is all I know – I should be asking YOU – What is next for Mckillop , you tell me !