Queens of Archive is a new fashion brand with gorgeous designs and sustainable practices at its core – we meet its founders (and one of them happens to be Irish)
Finding a sustainable fashion brand with sensational designs and attainable prices is like finding gold in today's world.
So when we came across Queens of Archive, we hit the sartorial jackpot.
Launched this year, Queens of Archive is quickly making a name for itself as a go-to for gorgeous dresses with a bohemian and rock 'n' roll feel. Think vintage floral prints, disco mini dresses and flattering shapes. Created by Irish native Sarah Plunkett and Nicola Orme, the brand focuses on sustainability and transparency – two things needed in today's turbulent fashion world.
We chatted to Sarah and Nicola to find out more about their business, sustainable practices and fabulous clothes.
How did Queens of Archive come about?
Nicola: “Queens of Archive was born last Christmas, Sarah and I became friends in London, where we had both built our careers in the fashion industry but had both moved away and decided to meet for drinks. The timing couldn’t have been better as we wanted to try something new. We thought, let's join forces and start a business. We have some amazing vintage pieces collected over the years and these archive pieces inspire the dress designs and prints.
Sarah: “We are both heavily influenced by 1960s and 1970s fashion and music. As we set to work defining what we wanted the business to be, we were very fortunate to have the same vision. The brand began to take on its own identity. We wanted to embody all the amazing women who have empowered us. We call these women queens and each dress is named after one we adore. Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith and Marianna Faithfull are just some of these women.”
How would you describe the Queens of Archive woman?
Sarah: “The Queens of Archive woman wants dresses that empower her but make her feel comfortable too. The designs will speak to anyone who appreciates beautiful fabrics and vivid prints.”
Was sustainability always important to you both when it came to the design and business process?
Nicola: “It always felt right to us to ensure our brand would focus on sustainability from the start. We wanted it to be slow, not fast. By limiting production runs for each dress, we minimise waste, helping us work toward our zero waste goals. We carried out a survey asking our mailing list to tell us their dress sizes and the pieces that caught their eye from our future collection. This helped us determine the most popular sizes for production, ensuring limited wastage. A pre-order period for each dress improves this further. Where this isn’t possible, such as production for retail, we’ll still keep to limited runs.”
Has it been challenging to start a fashion brand in a time where the business arena is quite saturated?
Sarah: “Starting a business is all new to us. It's been a challenge in certain areas due to the current climate. However, it's a constant state of learning and making mistakes. We need to stay true to ourselves at all times. What you see is what you get. Our team is small, but our dreams are big. We hope that is what people can see in Queens of Archive. We would love the brand to be a hive of creativity by producing and celebrating all the arts. We're working on a series called ‘Queens of...’, which will highlight the amazing women who have already worn our dresses and celebrate their unique talents.”
With Covid-19, how did the brand deal with the impact?
Nicola: “We get this question a lot, but to be honest, we launched right in the middle of it. It's hard to know. We see the impact in the broader fashion industry, but we’ve had no choice but to stick to our guns and push on where possible. We shot our first photoshoot the weekend before lockdown. We were so lucky with the content we created because it helped to build the brand.”
Sarah: “We possibly benefited from the amount of time people spent on their phones. We built a social platform and developed relationships with our followers online. There have been struggles in production, but we just had to be patient and wait until everything was safe for all involved.”
What has been your favourite dress to produce?
Nicola: "For us, our winner has been the Chrissie NYC maxi dress. Nadia Forde, Amy Huberman, and Una Healy have all worn it. The dress has an iconic 1970s shape with clashing print, a peplum waist and ruffles.”
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Nicola: “We have had so much love and support online. It's now a case of realising what’s best for us as a brand and what our next steps will be. We have lots of new designs in the pipeline.”
Sarah: “The response in Ireland has been excellent. We've got some exciting news down the line with a fantastic retailer, which we will share with everyone very soon. But right now, we're going to keep doing what we love and hope people will continue to join us on our journey.”
Chrissie NYC, €243
Françoise Madeleine, €177
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