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Meet the 18 year old student in York who has created his own fashion label

As if A Levels weren’t hard enough – meet 18 year old Aidan Carey from York who started his own fashion label while studying for his exams.

Like a lot of people, Aidan suddenly had some free time during the 2021 lockdown. He had ambitions to do a creative course at university but knew he would need a strong portfolio alongside his application.

So he taught himself advanced photoshop and adobe illustrator skills and created a completely hypothetical – at first – clothing brand as a project for his portfolio.

“As soon as I found myself researching names to see if they were already real life businesses, I realized that this might actually be something I wanted to try and do,” said Aidan.

And the rest was history.

Though Aidan has been into streetwear clothing since he was 16 and has aspired to create products on par or higher with brands like Of-White, Represent and Supreme – it hasn’t always been the dream to start his own clothing retailer.

“The comical thing about my story is I absolutely despised fashion and textiles in secondary school before I could drop it at GCSE.”

Aidan now plans to go to university in Liverpool to do fashion branding.

Accord Apparel releases limited edition style unisex collections and does not use gender-based sizing. It’s generally aimed at people aged 16-30 but “we are happy to see all ages and genders wearing our clothing,” said Aidan.

The vision for Accord Apparel is “fashionable, high quality clothing for competitive prices that everyone can enjoy.”

The brand has had three ‘drops’ so far, with a fourth coming soon.

YorkMix spoke with Aidan to find out more about Accord Apparel, the process behind the brand and what his goals are for the future.

Find out more about and keep up to date with Accord Apparel via the website or Instagram.

Q&A with Aidan Carey

Why the name ‘Accord Apparel’?

I spent a long time thinking of a name, and I wanted a name that is completely unique and easy to remember.

After countless hours of brainstorming names I finally found the word Accord. It means to give or grant someone power, status or recognition. A great word, and apparel just added to it.

What is the goal behind Accord Apparel?

My current goal is to be able to go out in public and see people wearing the clothes. That alone is enough to make me happy.

Another core goal is for Accord to be global, I would love to be able to go on holiday to a foreign country knowing that I have customers with my products there.

I have lots of numerical goals that I aspire to achieve, and will achieve. But they are not that interesting. My main goal is for the brand to one day be noticed by one of my many inspirations – for example, George Heaton (founder of Represent Clothing).

What is the process like from design to manufacturing to being available to buy?

Design starts with me sitting at my desk sketching and messing around with colors and different variants of each graphic artwork.

Then I use Instagram stories to host polls to see what people like and dislike. Once I have an idea what the people want to be able to buy, I group them into a collection, decide on a branding aesthetic / color palette and speak to my manufacturers in Spain and Latvia about getting the products made.

I get a sample made, then once happy with the product, I market it by doing a photoshoot and posting on social media. I pick a date to release it and put it on our web site for consumers to buy.

Timescale wise, it could be 1-3 months to produce a full collection. Because whilst designing the products is great, I have to organize their production, design branding and social media graphics and essentially build an aesthetic for the release.

What has the customer reaction been like?

Our customers absolutely love our garments, with our products having a focus on quality. So almost every piece of feedback has been related to how comfortable our clothes are and how well they fit.

Those who have already purchased our products are returning because they know how good our products are.

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How do you balance managing your own clothing business alongside your A Level studies?

I set aside time in my week for college and time in my week for Accord. Whilst this tends to fluctuate each week. I always do something for Accord, even though A levels are the priority right now with exams coming up soon.

As I am a full time student I do not have time to fulfill my orders or to produce my products myself. So I have a more time efficient, and eco friendly, business model. I have a deal with my manufacturer to produce our garments to order. So when you place an order with us, your details are sent straight to them. They produce your clothes, package them (to my specification) and ship them to your door just for you.

This means there is no waste stock and means the stock is only moved once. And whilst this means order fulfillment is longer than I would like it to be, it has gifted me a lot more time.

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What about once your exams are over?

All of this will be changing entirely once my exams are over. I hope to have stock stored in the UK, shorter delivery times and also higher quality clothing in general, with a better customer experience as a whole.

But to conclude, l have done absolutely everything to do with the business except order fulfillment. From incorporating the company, to building the website, to designing the products. I even direct the photo shoots, for which my friends model.

I am incredibly proud that I have got this brand off the floor and onto its feet. Now I just have to get it to walk.

What’s your dream for Accord Apparel?

The dream is to see Accord being worn by my idols and also to collaborate with brands that have inspired me.

But this is a marathon not a sprint. Those things will happen as long as I keep working hard. I would be delusional to think this brand will be a success overnight. That’s not how this works.

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