Siobhan Mackenzie is the multi award-winning Scottish fashion designer, born and raised in The Black Isle in the Highlands of Scotland. Her story is one of a fiercely ambitious, intelligent and creative female business leader, who is changing the way we think about fashion.
Inspired by her homeland, Siobhan Mackenzie is a tartan tornado of tenacity, helping to inspire, support and break down barriers for women in business.
Siobhan’s adventure into the world of fashion began just five days after graduating with a First Class BA Honours degree in Fashion Design & Production, when she launched her self-named label in 2014, aged 21.
The brand she created is an authentic and unashamedly artistic exploration of Highland Heritage. Reinventing classic styles into luxury contemporary fashion for menswear and womenswear. Inspired by Scotland. Exclusively Made in Britain.
Sustainability has also had a large part to play within the brand’s ethos – promoting a slow fashion concept in contrast to the fast-fashion industry. Her innovative design flair is proving that sustainability can be sexy.
Since launching her first independent collection in 2014, Siobhan’s work has garnered recognition across the globe and saw her awarded Best New Scottish Designer in 2016. The brand has been featured worldwide in Forbes, Elle US, WWD, Harper’s Bazaar US and starred in a VisitBritain Worldwide Campaign.
The brand is steeped in the very fabric of Scotland and as Siobhan sits down with Journal Magazine she talks passionately about how her homeland inspires all that she creates.
“My heritage and my family inspired my graduate collection from which the brand was born. My family live in Fortrose, in the Black Isle, which is infamous with the history of the Clan Mackenzie.
I am incredibly proud of where I’m from and passionate about Scotland’s history and impact on the fashion industry. Tartan is seen season after season across the world on the catwalk and is iconic to Scotland and our textile industry.
“As a Scottish designer, I want to champion our beautiful craftsmanship whilst injecting modern design thinking. To have such amazing skill sets on our doorstep is a huge blessing and utilising those are important to my brand.”
To put into perspective what Siobhan has achieved, there is a truly alarming statistic showing that women in Scotland are 50% less likely to start a business than men.
This highlights the importance of how crucial it is to help women in business and underlines the necessity of establishing strong support networks that offer guidance and encourage women to create their own businesses.
Siobhan has faced a great number of challenges as she looks to lead the way for a generation of women underrepresented in business. She talks openly and honestly about how funding has been one of the biggest barriers in driving her business forward.
“I started the brand five days after I graduated and after being a fashion student for four years where every penny is invested into fabric, sketch books and tools I didn’t have any money to invest into the business myself therefore I started completely organically.”
She explains that. “To this day I have no investors and have grown it organically, which at times I feel frustrated by, as I have an abundance of creative ideas for the brand I haven’t yet been able to tap into and reach its full potential. I’ve definitely learnt to be patient and realise success doesn’t happen overnight.”
Siobhan, thought continues to take every challenge head on. It has been a rollercoaster of a journey and at times it would have been easier to lay down and surrender. But she was born with grit and determination and has achieved so much whilst fighting the frustrations of funding. It makes her accomplishments all the more impressive and she looks back fondly as she describes some of her proudest moments.
“One of my biggest highs was designing for Team Scotland for the Commonwealth Games – I went over to Australia where we were the first country out into Carerra Stadium and the hairs were stood up on my arms as the team walked out in their masses in my design.”
It was a true pinch me moment and often I work at such a fast pace I forget to stop and be proud of myself or my achievements but in that moment I distinctly remember feeling incredibly proud and my eyes were brimming with tears.
The Importance of Repurpose
There isn’t much time for reflecting these days though as Siobhan gets ready to launch her latest collection ‘Repurpose.’ The innovative collection uses rare tartan silks no longer in production by the UK’s James Hare, and leopard print silks from orders for Linda Fargo, the Senior Vice Presidents for Bergdorf Goodman.
Linda Fargo hand selected Siobhan Mackenzie womenswear and menswear for Bergdorfs in 2017 and has previously worn Siobhan’s creations to the Chanel show at Paris Fashion Week. With her iconic and fabulous style, the Senior Vice President is the inspiration for the Leopard Wallace Kilt in the collection.
Repurpose is a contemporary take on Scotland’s world-renowned heritage in tartan, kilts, and luxury fashion. Featuring a mixture of tartans including Mackenzie, Wallace, Blackwatch, and Stewart – all iconic, registered, Scottish tartans recognised around the world, but with Siobhan’s unique and innovative flair for design breathing new life into them.
2022 promises to be an exciting year for Siobhan Mackenzie and her enthusiasm is palpable as she explains just what the new collection means to her.
Repurpose is a collection I have had planned for quite a while – being sustainable in business has always been a key factor since conception.
“My Dad was an environment officer for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for over thirty years and my upbringing has heavily influenced by choices within business.”
Growing up, being wasteful was never an option for Siobhan. This message has remained throughout her career and led her to keeping offcuts of past orders, allowing her to accumulate a stock of tartan silk leftovers which has helped to create her new range.
“The collection retains my signature style of design whilst utilising leftover tartans, dogstooth and leopard print silks which would have otherwise been waste stock. This collection feels personal to me because its message signifies who I am.”
Siobhan Mackenzie is an unrelenting, determined and inspirational entrepreneur. A bright light shining a way forward for women in business. As our insight into the world of a woman helping to make positive changes in the fashion industry comes to an end, she leaves us with a parting thought.
“Do not try and be everything to everyone. Most of all, stay true to your gut instinct and always believe in yourself.”
Siobhan Mackenzie creates custom designed made-to-measure pioneering kilts and tailoring. Their signature style is executed by fusing modern design thinking with traditional craftsmanship.
State-of-the art design technology allows them to tailor bespoke designs from Scotland to anywhere in the world. internationally.
For more information on Siobhan Mackenzie, click here.