A farm in the middle of Dorset, England might not seem like the typical place to raise a future international fashion designer, but for London College of Fashion alum Joshua Millard his hometown gave him an unlimited source of inspiration to create a successful womenswear label. Since founding his eponymous label in 2015, Joshua has produced three well-received collections and built a refined style of tailored clothing in exceptional cuts. Material Magazine spoke to the British designer about the challenges of being a young designer in London, why he chose to create his own brand and his decisions for casting women of all ages in his campaigns.

What have been the challenges you’ve faced since starting the brand?

It would have to be developing confidence in my design aesthetic and knowing my buyer. Besides that, it’s definitely been a challenge to find the right team who you trust to enable the business to grow.

What advice would you give to young designers beginning their fashion studies?

Gain as much experience as you can. Placements and interning are invaluable and seize every opportunity with an open mind. Don’t limit yourself to one area of the industry or even different industries.

Do you feel in this generation it is easier to begin a brand and maintain its establishment as opposed to previous generations?

Not at all, I feel totally the opposite. While technology and globalisation has increased our opportunities for reaching various markets, I feel the fashion market has become saturated with young designers. It’s become almost too accessible and continually evolving, which is fantastic but also makes it harder to remain relevant. That’s why I think it’s so important to find your niche in order to sustain a brand.

How does your upbringing inspire your collections?

Growing up in rural Dorset was quite secluded, hence I was influenced by what surrounded me; farming and the seasonal landscape. It remains a strong reference to my design aesthetic, which can be seen in the rich textures and functional nature of the clothing.

Were your parents supportive in your decision to study fashion?

Incredibly so, my parents always said it’s so important to love what you do. They respect that I’ve chosen a totally different career to them and what would traditionally be expected of me.

Will you continue to base yourself in London? Do you feel like the city is the perfect place for young designers to grow their brands?

For the time being I think so, it takes a while to build up your supply chain and besides, I really love this city in how it’s so approachable. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the perfect place for a young designer, it’s expensive and starting out is becoming harder for creative businesses.

Producing your own label as opposed to designing for well known brands is a big decision. What made you chose this?

I was always told to do something that you enjoy and challenges you, so I thought why not start out young, learn from my mistakes and see where it takes me. Of course the competition is high and perhaps it would be safer to go work for a known brand initially, but I don’t think doing so now limits my opportunities to work for other brands in the future.

In previous campaigns you haven’t discriminated with the ages of your models, what prompted the decision to use an older model?

I felt it’s often a neglected area of the industry. To me, elegance is an attitude and mentality, the way you approach it. I don’t see it is an ageing quality so why not use an older model to demonstrate this. Many of the people I look to are of that generation; I wanted to display how the clothes could be relevant for them.