Are you prone to spillages?
Do you find that whenever you wear a white top it appears to have some red wine and chocolate-attracting magnetic force field?
If only you could buy a stain removal product that was as effective as Vanish but pretty enough to have on your bookshelf or in your handbag.
Well, if Sebastian Collinge, this year’s Graduate Fashion Week Business Award winner, has anything to do with it, you soon will.
The five-month-old business Attire Care which he started after graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University makes a selection of products designed to help you take better care of your clothes and shoes; from red wine stain remover to denim hand wash and shoe deodoriser. What’s more, all ten products they stock come in gorgeously ‘grammable Aesop-esque packaging.
Discovering an untapped corner of the fashion industry is no easy feat, but with Attire Care, Collinge appears to have done just that.
I caught up with the young entrepreneur over coffee (which I managed not to spill on myself) to find out how he’s making stain removal chic.
How did you come up with the idea?
I thought there was a gap in the market for luxury, effective stain removers made from natural ingredients.
I began playing with the idea originally at university, then after I graduated I worked for six months at Adidas and then I spent six months at Calvin Klein in Amsterdam, and that was really when I had inspiration due the city, the textures and Nine Streets and things like that.
I began by creating mood boards on Instagram to see what people would think if these products did come to the market. People seemed to like it and I started to get a few more followers, and the product didn’t even exist them, so I came back to the UK in July and set out to actually make it.
What makes your product different to other stain removers?
Our products do the same as other stain removers, just with better packaging, natural oils and no harmful chemicals. A lot of existing household products on the market are definitely not good for your clothing.
Our shoe cleaner for example is a salt-based solution with natural fragrances and the soft bristle brush. It cleans your shoes up really nicely, makes them smell nice and at the same time prevents you from using harmful chemical or cleaners that are going to damage the fabric or the natural look of the material.
Has your university degree been helpful?
I studied fashion buying and merchandising at Manchester Metropolitan University. The course taught me about negotiating and buying, putting business plans together, sourcing and collaborating with photographers and designers to try and build the brand. The merchandising side of the course also taught me about costing and figures. Even though I really don’t like excel I have to make spreadsheets and stuff, to know when I am going to run out of labels, to know when I need to restock certain chemicals. Also, without University I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet media and other important contacts in London, which has been amazing.
What’s your standout product?
The red wine stain remover. If you spilt red wine on your white top today, you just spray it on, dab it off and it just takes it straight out, without needing to wash it. I save my friends girlfriend’s tops all the time!
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Convincing people it works, that’s the hardest thing. People are quite cautious. Sometimes I say: look just try it and see how it goes. Like the crease release for example, if you spray it onto clothes after they have just come out of a suitcase and gently brush it with your hands the creases just come straight out, you don’t have to use an iron, you don’t have to pay for it to go to the dry cleaner. From a sustainable standpoint I feel that it is the way forward. We do little kits, like you will have a shoe deodoriser, little fabric refreshers and the crease release. It is a little cute pack that you can bring on holiday with you.
What’s the big dream?
We eventually want to bring out a homeware range and a bike range, so it becomes a one stop shop for all your cleaning needs.
Being stocked in Liberty is my ultimate dream, and obviously Selfridges and Harrods, but then also the ones that trickle down from there; like Folk, Oliver Spencer, YMCA. But, for me, Liberty is the big one, it fits with our sort of style and would fit into their aesthetic, I don’t think there is anything quite like it.
What does winning the award mean to you?
It really gives me confidence, in the idea and the brand. Now I know I have made the right decision to focus on my business rather than instantly going to get a graduate job. I am going to give it my all, full time, otherwise it is not going to make anything of it. I always self-critique, and am not as confident in my work as I should, but this has definitely made me think that the brand can become something.
You already have some celebrity fans, right?
Yes! David Beckham, Edward Enninful and Dylan Jones all came to my university with the British Fashion Council and I was one of the students chosen to display my work to them. It was amazing to meet them all. Afterwards I emailed Dylan Jones and he emailed back straight back! Things like that are insane. David was really keen on the red wine remover, he took one and said he loved it – I hope he’s used it!