This is part four of conversations with makers in the local fashion industry, produced by Chris Hunt – PR & Events Director at Genuine, and Founder/Director of Social Enterprise Scotland Re:Designed CIC, New conversations will be out every Friday!
What do you do?
The McGarry Agency provides marketing tailored to Fashion brands. Technical Support to work with Development teams to improve Data, I started the business and am the Managing Director, and being Team Leader is a hands-on role.
How do you do it?
I run Client projects with teams across a variety of Communication tools with clients across the UK, US, Europe, and the Nordics. Pre Covid-19 a day could include work in London, Stockholm, New York, delivering an international service to brands from Dundee. I work with several people including full and part-time from our office in Dundee, freelancers here and around the world depending on Client needs and have had various Trainees over the years. I am proud of the flexible working opportunities we provide. I also work closely with Robert Gordon University.
What do you think are the Challenges and Opportunities working in this sector locally?
It can be a harder sell to pitch for work against London or New York agencies from Dundee. We constantly argue that working with people only in your own postcode creates silos for business – good people can do great work from literally anywhere including their homes.
I would like to see a bigger hub for us in Dundee employing more people, maintaining a balance between locals and people working elsewhere. We have a very dynamic and talented team. Everything shows we must think about the best teams and how to bring them together, rather than try to control people, but we are lucky Dundee is a cracking place to be.
Why do you love Dundee?
There is a community in Dundee that would be hard to be a part of in a bigger city too. I am in awe of the creative community and its size since I came here originally for University. The camaraderie is so unique, and I have never felt or experienced that in other places.
We have a fantastic mix of countryside alongside city culture like the Dundee Rep Theatre. The offerings here are incredible.
We must continue investing in making it a great place to shop, live, work, play and grow, as it is evidenced that it is what you do outside of work that really matters to people and businesses, so support for Dundee in this really matters.
What do you think is happening to Fashion right now, in Scotland and generally?
Marketing in general should reflect the societal changes happening, good marketing does not live in nostalgia, and we aim to lead by example and Innovation in whatever way we can to support our clients and the industry.
There is a clash of experience, impacts and size between fast Fashion, which is almost totally digital-first, and fashion which has relied primarily on physical Retail, which the industry is wrestling with at present.
Marketers are realising now that societal shifts are happening from youth up, the economics speak for themselves, and there is a great deal of responsibility which is on all of us including Government, advertisers and customers to sort now.
Pre Covid-19 we have turned down working with fast fashion clients. We all want to work with brands that are not proactively destroying the planet as a conscious part of their business plan, so the digital marketing industry has an opportunity to do more there to educate if needed, and around equality, diversity and inclusion too. We all need change.
What would you like to see happen in Scottish Fashion, or in Dundee for Fashion?
Before lockdown I had started to attend more of the events at V&A Dundee, which were useful as I started to hear stories of other people running businesses locally, we are lucky to have Business Gateway, Creative Dundee, and an active Chambers of Commerce too, but fashion is a gap. Textiles tends to hub around Craft and Design, and Tech around DCT Media and Corporate, as ever fashion is the point where art meets Commerce and tends to have its own dialogue. This is the core idea for me, bridges between various sectors need to be built to help Dundee grow and create jobs. To do that, Fashion needs to find its voice.
Do you agree with the importance of collaborative working?
Vital! I always think Dundee is like Brighton in terms of the character of the creative community, so I hope we can encourage people to do more Creative Dundee style collaborative approaches as we need more of this to survive, and definitely post lockdown.
What are your hopes long term?
The biggest chances are looking at international opportunities, investment in green business, local growth and scaling up. Collaborations between Fashion Tech and Creatives need to be connected better, become more tactical and strategic.
Scotland and Dundee itself have a diverse network of Fashion workers, Brands and Companies and we need to start talking about the wider business eco-system.
We can start by admitting and accepting Industry and Dundee truths, environmental challenges, job losses, and acknowledging change, risks, retail closures, and produce solutions. We are Fashion creatives who specialise in innovation while working with Creatives, Makers, and Designers around the world, adapting is what we do. We can consider lifestyle, provide pathways, adding to the new blueprint for local success.
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