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Image / Style / Irish Design

Irish Design Spotlight: Tailr


By Shana Chu
10th Sep 2023
Irish Design Spotlight: Tailr

Set up by Shana Chu, Tailr is revolutionising the garment industry by addressing critical issues from the manufacturing level.

An experienced garment technician herself, Shana developed Tailr with the goal of combating inconsistent sizing and garment waste that plagues the fashion industry.

Tailr’s groundbreaking platform facilitates real-time data flow between design teams, fabric mills, and factories. By streamlining production processes, it ensures consistent sizing across fabrics, cuts, and seasons, while supporting clothing brands in achieving their sustainability goals.

Recently announcing an impressive €700,000 investment raise for Tailr, here Shana tells us more about the concept.

What prompted you to set up Tailr?
Tailr is a software platform for fashion brands to solve issues in garment design and production. The platform streamlines the production process, reduces sampling time and ensures consistent sizing. For fashion brands, Tailr increases efficiency and throughput, improves quality control, and ultimately reduces e-commerce returns and landfill.I am a previous garment technologist who saw first-hand some of the issues with the clothing production supply chain while visiting factories internationally. As a garment technologist for the PPE industry, I was designing and certifying fire suits and fire-resistant clothing. From working with highly technical fabrics and visiting the factories, I got to see areas of the supply chain ripe for innovation.

What is your mission?
I love the fashion industry and sustainability has clouded it. Sometimes I feel it’s nearly a guilty pleasure to enjoy fashion because of how it is perceived and the reality of how things are made. I want to remove production waste and waste from inconsistent sizing, to clean up parts of the production supply chain. Firstly, so the cloud from fashion is removed, but also so that people no longer have to go through that utterly deflating experience of finding something they absolutely love and then realising it doesn’t fit them. It can instantly kill a great shopping day!

Did you always want to work in fashion?
Always. I felt when I was younger, I wasn’t creative enough, and my drawing skills were not good, but it didn’t stop me from being absolutely fascinated with the industry. When I was about seven or eight, I begged my parents for a sewing machine I had seen in a shop – I had visions of recreating Barbie looks for myself. For as long as I remember I always had to touch fabric, feel how soft or rough it is, feel how it drapes, how it handles. That never stopped. It takes me forever to walk through a clothing store! If I spot an interesting fabric, I need to touch it all. Nowadays, I love how technology has enabled future fashion designers – my childhood self wouldn’t need to be good at sketching to fit in.

What new brands or items are on your radar?
I have a whole list – top of the list is Landa Bags’ new tote bag for Create 2023 in Brown Thomas and also the leather and raffia Teca bag! I also have my eye on a pair of Native denim jeans. It can be so hard to find a good fit so I’m eager to try these out. I’m also loving the colour and style of Kindred of Ireland. I would have every piece if I could! And lastly, Nicki Hoyne’s Pink Bow Shoes are unfortunately sold out at the moment, but I’m keeping my eyes on a restock!

Was money/funding a concern when starting out?
Absolutely! I knew I was building something big so raising funding from investors was always in the plan, but to raise from investors you need some form of traction. To do this I knew I needed to build some form of minimum viable product to test with brands. I won the Best New Start Company at the Seedcorn competition in 2021 – I used this to build an amazing product that I could test and raise investment with. But while doing this I couldn’t pay myself as all the money had to go back into the company. Now after raising €700,000 from investors, it gives me a good runway to achieve some key goals I have for Tailr.

Best business advice you’ve gotten
It’s easy to get advice from people in business, everyone has their own story and experience and nugget of advice. But the one thing that I ignored for far too long was trusting my gut. When I first started I told myself that I was new to the business world and that I didn’t know anything about this world. A few times my gut told me something was wrong and I didn’t listen. I ended up working with the wrong people and it always ended up that my gut was right. Now, I always listen to it… if something feels off, I stay clear!

Favourite sustainable style accounts to follow online
Some of my favourites are vintage sellers YAAASS Vintage & Marilyn’s Vintage. I also love upcycling accounts so Rag Order Dublin and also The Kind Cobbler in the Jervis Shopping Centre. You cannot beat a good before and after photo and both these accounts hit the spot.

Best fashion purchase
All of them! Jokes aside, one of my favourite recent purchases was a dull, sad looking purple dress from a vintage store. I have my own custom blend cleaning solution for vintage clothes so I soaked it three times in the solution and it came out the most beautiful delicate lavender colour. I also re-pressed the pleats and it’s such a stunning dress now. It’s by the designer Renee Meneely who had an upmarket store in Belfast up until the 80s. Honourable mentions also have to go to my first pair of Manolo Blahniks. They are baby blue patent leather and just stunning. And lastly my Hermes Victoria 2 bag in Hermes Orange – it still fills me with joy every time I use it, even after a few years of daily wear.

Other sustainable Irish brands you love
Sustainable doesn’t mean you can’t have colour or vibrancy, and sometimes it has the overtone that it can’t which is why I love FéRí! Faye does an amazing job of capturing this.

Most useful learning since setting up a business
For business, it’s organisation and a good team. It’s so important to try to be organised and stay on top of things. When you are starting on your own you have to wear so many hats and if you are not organised, things can easily slip. Hiring a team really helps with this and I am so lucky to have hired some amazing team members around me. For personal, it’s to remember to create some time for yourself. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed when you are doing everything yourself. I had to remember the basics some days – make sure you eat, make sure you get some movement and make sure you have some fun and creative time.

Proudest moment so far
Raising an investment round when a lot of people said I wouldn’t be able to do it. I was nervous about the whole process of raising. I had heard so many times that raising investment is like a marriage with a planned divorce and I didn’t want to choose the wrong investors. Luckily I found amazing investors who saw my vision and had the belief in me and Tailr to change some big things in the industry. Announcing the raise was surreal – it was such a proud moment for me.

I want my brand to be remembered for… redefining production for the fashion industry and for doing something no one else has ever achieved – large-scale consistent sizing. Removing some of the waste from the industry would be such a huge achievement and one I would be proud to be remembered for.

If I could work with any Irish designer it would be… I’d have to go back in time for this one as I would love to work with Sybil Connolly! When she lived in Waterford, where I am from, she went to the same school I did. I would love to shadow her, and see how she convinced the nuns to make the lace for her black lace illusion dress at a time when Ireland was very conservative. I would also love to watch how she made the tiny micro pleats from some of her designs and the inner construction.