We had a chat with Megan Aylott, one of the founders of Meame, about their cycling clothing brand, described as Performance Fashion, based in London.
- When did you first decide you wanted to create a performance fashion brand?
It all started with a birthday present in 2012 from my husband and co-founder Steven. Steven, is a keen city cyclist and bought me a bike. He was hoping we could get into the countryside and go mountain biking… but mountain biking isn’t for me, bumpy tracks and steep muddy hills aren’t what I call fun. But city cycling is a different thing, and I really began to appreciate the freedom of cycling in the city, it is far more therapeutic than taking public transport. I swiftly realised that I didn’t have the right attire and would often get to a meeting dripping wet, and had been barely visible on the roads at night time. I wanted to wear something for safety, but was shocked at how unflattering existing products on the market were. I soon realised I wasn’t alone, and spotting a gap in the market for a functional fashion. We all run busy lives and want clothing that works seamlessly throughout the day, come rain or shine, day and night, most people want to be prepared without the need for a change of clothes. We strongly believed we could create a brand that solved this problem and began to create MEAME: Performance Fashion.
- Where do you take your inspiration?
I’m quite holistic when it comes to inspiration, I absorb things from all around, so graphical architecture and patterns influence me as I wonder the city. I also take inspiration from high end fashion as opposed to sports trends and have an eye for simplicity in design, so I try to keep things refined and unfussy. I believe in designing classic and timeless pieces that are functional fashion, and so they will become wardrobe staples you rely on.
- What is most important when selecting your designs?
As a designer you develop sketches and initially have favourites, but development is really key and as we have prototypes made and developed the true winners really start to shine so the selection is easier. Once we’re coming closer we ask friends, retailers and cyclists what their preference and thoughts are. In the final days of selection, we ensure the products compliment each other and sit together well as a range, the performance and fashion aspect of the clothing should be in balance and benefit the wearer, after all our brand is all about ‘Performance Fashion’.
- What is the most difficult challenge you have faced in creating your brand so far? How have you overcome it?
Initially, we were developing our exclusive Reflective fabric in a factory in Romania that could make both the fabric and manufacture the jacket. The great thing about working this was we were able to keep the price point down to make a more commercial and affordable product for the final customer. It was an exciting process and we had a number of colour ways and patterns developed, ensured the breathable wool was as soft as possible, and crucially developed a weaving technique to disguise and secure the reflective yarn.
By this point, we were really starting to envisage the final jacket being turning into a reality so were close to booking out bulk production order. Then, communication started to break down with the factory and we were struggling to get responses to shortly find out the factory were facing tough times and were about to close their weaving mill. With the unreliability of the production run we couldn’t risk continuing with the factory, it was a really heartbreaking moment, we felt like we were so close and our launch was in reaching distance but fundamentally this meant we were back to square one.
A big lesson we learnt here was don’t keep all your eggs in one basket and always have a back up plan. It sounds ridiculously obvious but as a start up it’s hard to always set out this way. So, we then had a fresh start and decided to look for a weaving mill in the UK, when we managed to find a wonderful Yorkshire mill who were brilliant to work with and we managed to develop a superior fabric. In sync we started work with a very reputable tailoring manufacture in Portugal to make the Blazers, with the factory having clients such as Jaeger and Aquascutum we were in good hands. So, even though we were set back almost 9 months in the end, overall we came out with a much stronger and refined fabric and product for our customer. Silver linings are a wonderful thing!
- Could you tell me more about where your different products are produced?
We are proud to have developed our exclusive reflective fabric here in Yorkshire, England, which pleasantly is not too far away from my home town. It’s a really beautiful part of the world to cycle in, and after the popularity if Tour de Yorkshire, it’s definitely a recommended destination. After the fabric is woven, it’s then sent to a finishing mill to be coated with a water-repellent coating and later shipped a short distance over the waters to northern Portugal to have the Blazer manufactured by a fantastic family run factory.
For our Biker jacket, we use a premium technical Italian fabric and produce our jackets in a specialist factory, again in northern Portugal who specialise in making technical and waterproof jackets. Our reflective caps are crafted here in London in collaboration with expert hat maker; Laird London.
All the components we use are carefully selected from reputable producers in Europe, we look to get the highest quality trimmings to enhance the products.
- What do you plan on offering next? Will you offer cycling pants or tops in the future?
As a designer, there are so many ideas we have and would like to expand on. Currently we are pursuing potential collaborations and planning to expand our performance fashion range, with some technical tops and accessories.
- Do you sell exclusively online?
We sell online at meame.co.uk and also a couple of independent stores. Currently, we’re stocked in East London and also stocked in a wonderful bike shop/cafe; Ronde Bike in Edinburgh, Stockbridge. Well worth a visit and a slice of cake when you’re there.
- Warmer weather is here. What piece(s) will compliment my summer cycling wardrobe?
I designed the range to be transitional over the seasons, the great thing about the design of the clothing and the fabrics chosen is it makes them far more versatile than day to day clothing. For instance, the fabric for the Reflective Blazer is made from wool, which is a naturally temperature regulating fibre therefore it helps keep you warm on the cooler days and cool in the warmer days. We have a strong believe that fashion should perform for you, so design versatile outerwear that transitions easily through seasons. We aim to prepare the wearer for whatever weather is thrown their way way. Our biker jacket is particularly transitional, as it’s a convertible waterproof jacket that converts into a gilet with a quick transition so you’ll be prepared when the weather starts warming up.
To learn more check out their website.