In our 'Meet the Designer' series, we interviewed Teegan Haidle, designer of Uncle May, an independent designer label based in Melbourne who makes beautiful clothes that are meant to be your wardrobe staples.
A bit about Teegan Haidle
Do you have a favourite book?
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of business related books and autobiographies. One of my favourites is Chapter One by Daniel Flynn, I would highly recommend it, especially for those starting or running a business. At the moment I’m reading Lisa Messenger’s latest book Purpose. I’ve read all of her books and love them.
What music are you into?
I love just about any genre of music however, I’ll mostly choose chilled-out music.
Who is your fashion/design idol?
I don’t have one in particular, I’m more inspired by people with their own unique style and am always drawn to Parisian style, they are effortlessly cool yet classic.
What does happiness look like for you?
A balance of work and play surrounded by friends/family, good food, wine and nature.
What is your spirit animal and why?
Some type of bird, because I would love to fly and I’m fascinated with clouds and the sky.
About Uncle May
Why and when did Uncle May start?
Uncle May officially started a little over a year ago but there were months of planning beforehand. I’d always intended to have my own label but didn’t plan on it happening for another few years. I just woke up one day and thought, why not just start it now otherwise I’ll keep putting it off and making the excuse that I’m not ready. So I slowly chipped away at it whilst working my other job and eventually it started coming together. The main reason for starting Uncle May was to create the perfect range of staple pieces available in one place. I’ve always found it difficult to find a tee that not only fit well but was comfy, versatile and made from natural fabrics. So that’s the goal behind every garment.
Tell us a bit more about the label. Where do you get your design inspiration or philosophy from?
The idea behind the label is to get back to basics (literally) and to create timeless pieces to last throughout the seasons. Each design follows three principles- function, fabric and fit. It is also important to think about the longevity of the style, I’m always asking myself “Will this be a style that people will wear next year?” I’m really trying to encourage the idea that our clothes should be worn over and over again. I think with the rise of social media and “sharing” our outfits people don’t want to be seen wearing the same thing. Uncle May is all about showing our consumers it’s ok (in fact, it’s great) to repeat your outfits.
Sourcing a manufacturer is daunting for a designer, let alone finding one that’s fair trade. How do you go about finding the right manufacturing partner?
This was the hardest part of the process for me and it took months of searching with a few fails along the way. I think the best way to source a manufacturer is through trade fairs. You can see their product and discuss your needs directly with the supplier.
Why should more designer labels look into being more sustainable from a business point-of-view?
I think as a business it’s important to firstly give our consumers the option to purchase sustainably but to also encourage conscious shopping habits and support other businesses doing the same. Sustainable products are a win/win for everyone involved. Not only are you creating a great product but it’s done in a way that is positively contributing to our future rather than impacting it negatively. It’s something both the consumer and business can be proud of.
You donate 5% of every purchase to This Life Cambodia, tell us more about this cause and why it is important to give back?
TLC is a wonderful organisation creating opportunities and improving the daily life of children, families and communities in Cambodia. One of their programs is about improving the education system and allowing children to receive an education, something many of us take for granted. I believe it’s so important to give children a proper education so they have a chance to live to their potential. Giving back is something I’ve always been passionate about. Put simply, we are all human and deserving of the same rights and opportunities as one another.
What’s next for Uncle May?
So many plans, so little time! I have big plans for Uncle May in the future but I really want to focus on building the brand as is and creating the “perfect” range of basics.
Uncle May embodies the Material Sustainability, People, and Animal-free values. Shop Uncle May here on Ethi.