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Chella Liverpool: Keeping Fashion In The Family and The City

L’Oréal Blackett chats with the label on a mission to bring integrity back to fast-fashion

Written by . Published on September 15th 2014.

Chella Liverpool: Keeping Fashion In The Family and The City

“YOU were born an original don’t die a copy,” is the slogan for Liverpool’s fresh new fashion label, Chella - although co-owner, John Quinn, knows staying original can be a difficult feat in the fast-fashion game.

“The competition online is unbelievable,” says Quinn as we chat before the launch of Chella’s new website. “Yet we intend to be innovators and predict trends. That’s our USP. We work ahead.”

Our aim is to bring manufacturing home and bring back a bit of integrity to fast- fashion. Everything you read and hear about working conditions in some factories is terrifying,” 

Residing in Melling, Quinn’s been in the clothing business for decades and claims to have launched five or six fashion labels throughout his career, most notably as CEO for Topshop concession brand, Rare.

Bracing for a new fashion venture, he parted ways with the label to join forces with his stylist daughter Helena Shiels and together they've maintained a balance of shrewd business and a forward fashion sense.

“We’re very hands on and have an excellent in-house design team,” says Helena Shiels. A model for over ten years, she’s had a lot of experience in the fashion industry and after retiring in front of the camera found styling and designing was a natural next step.

“We want to be known for standout pieces. Luxury high street clothes which appeal to the young fashion forward girl that shops in Topshop and has an effortless street style.”

John-Quinn-And-Helena-SheilsFather and daughter team: John Quinn and Helena Sheils

It’s a style in keeping with the city’s strong and identifiable fashion identity. As Chella's lead designer Sheils is keen for the label to reflect the soul of Liverpool’s young and fashionable.

“Rare was outfits for clubbing, where Chella is not specifically party wear and we focus on street style,” explained Sheils.  “We have reasonable price points around £20 -£60 to appeal  the Topshop market.”

With a little help from Quinn's bulging industry contact book, Chella’s first Autumn/Winter collection took 12 months to establish but the young label has already been welcomed by Topshop on Church Street – the largest flagship store outside of London.

“I’ve got close links with Topshop and Rare was stocked in 35 stores across the country. They know me, they trust me and I’ve done this before. Chella was made specifically with Liverpool in mind and they liked that we were a home-grown label,” said Quinn.Bwepxztiqail7pu

Liverpool girls wearing Chella

A passionate Liverpudlian, Quinn also wanted to make sure Chella's manufacturing operation took place in the city.

After initially using suppliers in China, once the brand established its first collection the company now work solely with local manufacturers. Quinn is keen for Chella to be recognised as a proud and ethical home-grown fashion label. It’s enough to make ‘Queen Of The Shops’, Mary Portas, proud.

“In my time I’ve had a lot of experience with far eastern suppliers but in the long run it’s not cost effective. We’ve used Chinese suppliers in the past but our aim was to bring manufacturing home and bring back a bit of integrity to fast-fashion. Everything you read and hear about working conditions in some factories is terrifying,” said Quinn.

In an industry under the microscope for its controversial use of overseas factories, Chella is certainly different in that respect. Akin to its slogan, the father and daughter team refuse to copy the trends in the fast-fashion business  - from the factory floor to the shop floor.

Find Chella Liverpool on its website and within Topshop Church Street.

Follow @LOreal_B on Twitter.

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