Bobby Abley Talks Minions
Now that the secret's out and the collection was revealed at London Fashion Week, we’re so excited to tell you more about our new collaboration with designer Bobby Abley! Renowned for his character-based collections, Bobby’s latest collection, based on the Minions, isn't just for the luxury market: it’s coming to a Primark near you too! Read on as he reveals the inspo behind this collection and his career highlights to date.
"My main collection has been stocked in the [big London stores] like Selfridges and Dover Street Market," Bobby explains, "with pieces like a neoprene sweatshirt priced around $800. Because it features a recognizable character a lot of people want to buy it, but can’t afford it. One of the main comments I get on social media is 'We love this, but we can’t afford it.' So that's the reason I jumped at this opportunity to work with Primark: to make my collection accessible for everyone."
With a career firmly in the luxe end of the fashion market, we couldn’t be happier about Bobby bringing his designs to Main Street. So how does creating a high fashion collection compare with a mainstream brand collab? "What the customer is getting is an authentic version of the Bobby Abley main collection – not something watered down. The important thing for me is that I want the people who want to buy it, to be able to afford it!"
With a whole host of character-based collections already under his belt, what was it about the well-loved Minions that made Bobby decide to focus on them for his latest collection, and the Primark collab? "Universal came to me with this project, to work on a Minions collection and play around with it, to inject new life in to the characters. The collab comes at a good time because the new Minions movie, 'The Rise of Gru' is coming out later this year. My Fashion Week shows generate a lot of press buzz, so ideally this will create a lot of hype around the Minions movie too."
So the big question is, what can our customers expect from this new Primark collab? "One thing I really want customers to know is that I’ve stayed true to my usual design style. I’ve been really aware that Primark’s price point is very different to my main collection, but it’s important for the customer to know that one thing I was adamant about was that there would be no drop in quality. The customer can expect amazing quality from this collection!"
Bobby works very closely with all the major licensing companies to plan the characters that will feature in his latest collection. But with a creative mind as active as his, we wanted to know: what else gets his creative juices flowing to inspire new designs? "Music is a big inspiration for me," he explains. "I can be really into a song and it will just get stuck in my head and generate ideas. There’s actually a thread of music icons throughout my collections, with a nod to Amy Winehouse and other artists because of the music I’ve been listening to at the time. I don’t go out of my way to be inspired: it's literally what whatever I’m surrounded by."
Bobby started his career designing menswear, but has gradually introduced womenswear into his collections. And with fashion getting ever more gender fluid in 2020, it's a smart idea. "In my past shows I’ve had female models dressed in the menswear styles," he says, "I’ve actually started to enjoy designing womenswear much more now. Technically I’m trained in menswear: I studied and specialized in it. But I’m really into womenswear now. So much that I decided to move my show off the menswear schedule!" Quite a bold statement.
We all have a fave childhood cartoon character or movie, but since Bobby has used most of them already within past collections, is it ever possible to have a favorite himself? "Last season I did The Wizard of Oz and that was my all-time fave collaboration," he says with a big smile. "It’s my mum’s favorite movie so it’s also always been mine too. I dedicated the collection to her. That collection was actually on my bucket list. Check!"
We all know that anything can happen in the world of fashion, especially under the stress of Fashion Week. So we dug a little deeper to uncover one of Bobby and his team's most memorable moments.
"One of my favorite moments was when we did a collection dedicated to Brazil, and used Disney classics like Mickey and Minnie. I had this beautifully embroidered neoprene Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. And the day before the show Steve, my creative director, cut the whole body off and it just ended up being sleeves and a hood! I just turned around and Steve was cutting away at it." he laughs. That ended up being the most instagrammed look from the show!" Bobby says, still laughing. "That was one of favorite things because it wasn’t planned at all."