For more than ten years, The Fold, a women's tailoring brand based in London, has remained dedicated to empowering the modern professional woman through timeless wardrobe essentials. Despite the shift to a more relaxed style of dressing prompted by the Covid era, there has been a notable resurgence in the appreciation for impeccably crafted formalwear.

In April, the brand achieved a significant milestone by successfully raising £1.7 million in crowdfunding, predominantly from female investors, signalling plans for ambitious expansion. Following this triumph, October saw the exciting unveiling of The Fold's first product collaboration with acclaimed British artist Sue Arrowsmith.

We spoke to the founder Polly McMaster to find out more…

In 2022, the brand celebrated its 10th anniversary, what gap in the fashion industry did you set out to fill? And have you been able to stay true to your aspirations?
It was such an exciting milestone, I’m so proud of how far the business has come. 11 years on and our mission has stayed the same; we want to empower women to achieve their ambitions.

The idea for The Fold started when I was working in a male-dominated and corporate environment over 10 years ago. I was surrounded by an army of immaculately tailored men as if they had just marched off the cutting tables of Savile Row and straight into the boardroom. The power and confidence that beamed from them was both inspiring yet, admittedly, slightly enviable. I always enjoyed dressing up for work, but more often than not I found my sartorial options all too disappointing – the offering for workwear felt like it was at the bottom of the agenda for many womenswear brands.

Over the years, we have invested time into understanding what the professional woman needs and have worked on building a stylish and contemporary wardrobe for her. Having walked in similar footsteps as many of our customers, I really understand the demands a work wardrobe needs to fulfil. My team and I have a relentless dedication to dressing women and ensuring we offer options that deliver confidence and gravitas in all aspects of their lifestyles.

How have you seen the industry change and evolve since launching the brand?
The pandemic changed the majority of women’s work lifestyles – we truly believe flexible working is here to stay. We wanted to ensure working women have access to timeless high-quality pieces that they can wear to the office, for important meetings or occasions and for working from home days. We regularly conduct surveys to understand our customers’ lifestyles, after the pandemic we noticed from our survey findings that a big percentage of respondents wanted comfort without compromising professional gloss. As a brand we want to deliver something elevated and elegant, to help our customers feel confident and stylish whether they are working in the office or from home.

Walk us through your exclusive collection with British artist Sue Arrowsmith. How did it come about and why was she the right person for the brand to work with?
Myself and our Design Director Katya Maschenko have admired Sue’s work for many years, we love her exquisite use of colour and texture. We decided to approach her about working together to create an eveningwear capsule collection. Katya and Sue bonded over their mutual appreciation of nature and the outdoors, working instinctively and collaboratively to fuse art with craftsmanship.

As a brand, we always strive to champion female talent at every stage of the design process, so this collaboration was a no-brainer. It was a great way to shine the spotlight on a talented artist as well as design a beautiful collection that our customers will adore and treasure for years to come.

Can you share some of the key milestones or challenges you've faced in running The Fold, and how they have shaped your journey as a female founder?
I learned pretty quickly that it takes a boatload of resilience to start a business – nothing comes easily and you have to build everything from the ground up. The first years were the hardest when you are trying to achieve your vision with vastly limited resources – so you have to be creative, passionate, motivated and pick yourself up and keep on going!

A key milestone for the business was opening our beautiful store in Chelsea March 2018 after 5 years in Clerkenwell. Over the years, we have hosted incredible events and offered our community the opportunity to network with like-minded women as well as form friendships and business links.

How do you see the brand evolving in the next few years, considering the dynamic and uncertain nature of the fashion industry?
Our main goal is to become the go-to brand for luxury workwear and smart event dressing. We really believe workwear matters, and it always will. What you are wearing can have a huge impact on your confidence when you are at work, so we want our customer to be able to reach for a Fold outfit in the morning, enjoy getting dressed, feel like she can conquer the world – and then go do it.

We are very passionate about investment style and we want our customers to invest in timeless, quality and versatile styles that will stand the test of time that they can treasure for years to come.

For women interested in entering the fashion industry, what advice would you give based on your experiences as the founder of The Fold?
If you’re driven, determined and passionate about pursuing a career in fashion or have a great business idea you should definitely go and do it! …But do your homework and go into it with your eyes open. Also, surround yourself with inspiring people and find a mentor who will support you during those tough moments.

What's next for The Fold?
It has been 11 fantastic years and of course, we have some very exciting and ambitious goals for the future. We would love to open more stores, both in the UK and in the US, and truly offer a fantastic end-to-end wardrobe for work and beyond for our remarkable customers. As well as launch more initiatives to support our key charity partner, Smart Works.

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