Dubai resident Melanie Gissing started designing children’s clothing in 2012, following on from her successful women’s collection. In a classic English style, these cute designs are fresh, fun and original.
What is your inspiration?
It came from my twin girls who are called Maddy and Eva, now nine years old. My background is in textiles as I have a degree in textiles and fashion, so it was really a natural step for me to begin designing for children! That, together with a desire to fill a gap in the market as I couldn’t find affordable, good quality cotton summer dresses for my girls! So I designed and made my own for my daughters and it has grown from there.
Do you just do kids’ clothes?
I haven’t always done childrenswear, I also design a range of women’s wear called Melanie Gissing Design (MGD), which includes a small bespoke collection of shimonos, silk tops, loose cotton shirt dresses, silk wrap skirts, bib collar necklaces and other bits and pieces. The childrenswear is certainly a more structured business with collections and sizes, where MGD is more spontaneous and often led by the fabrics that I find and can’t resist!
What type of children’s clothes do you design?
The clothes are all very classic and what might be described as traditional English in design and also for the fabrics I tend to use. Lots of floral and polka dots, a sort of cross between Laura Ashley, Cath Kidston and Joules. I design for an age range of between three months up to nine years, although I do also carry some bigger sizes in the dresses as these are more popular for my Emirati customers, and I can make on a bespoke or by order basis too. So for babies I have rompers, baby dresses and bloomers, and from one year olds I have dresses that are comfortable and easy to wear, and particularly for the weather in the UAE. Loose and cool for the warmer months but easily paired up with a pretty cardigan and tights if needed for the cooler months.
I also design loose-fitting smock tops with a puff sleeve, shorts and skirts, and more recently fun playsuits in denim or floral. In addition, I design a smaller range for the boys for age range two to seven, including some nice classic button-down collared shirts in cool fun or unusual cotton prints that may have a hint of polka dot too in the detail trim inside collar and cuffs. I also make plain linen shirts with a mandarin or neru collar, more inspired by the traditional thobe of the Middle East! I always try to carry some classic shorts for boys to match up with the shirts, often in a khaki which is a staple in a boy’s closet
And for what ages?
For girls, three months to nine years and for boys, two to seven years although I have done smaller and larger sizes for both. I can take orders for bespoke sizing. In the past I have designed specific clothing for boys and girls for weddings or particular events.
Who do you have in mind when you design your clothes?
Children want to be comfortable and stylish and I think parents want quality, natural fabrics and value for money. Parents also appreciate the value of a small boutique brand! Maddy&Eva Children’s Boutique represents a design concept of children’s clothing for children, rather than mini versions of adult clothes for children.
Are they made by you, or someone in the UAE?
I do make some pieces, especially when bespoke orders come in, and when I am playing around with new ideas. But I also have tailors based in UAE that make the majority of the collections for me, particularly with all the different sizing. As a busy mum daily on the school run and fitting kids’ activities around work time as well as running MGD, I wouldn’t have time to make all the pieces myself.
How do you fit it all in, besides family life?
Often with difficulty! Working around children and sometimes working on the weekends for events essentially means you are working all the time! But I am always trying to achieve a balance of quality work and quality family time, but this I have to admit this is an ongoing work in progress.
What are your plans for the brand for the future?
Plans for 2015 and beyond means scaling back a little bit on many of the markets and events and giving myself time to plan for the future. I want to do more behind the scenes administration and research work, as well as plan the upcoming collections. A dedicated website is in the pipeline, especially as I do often receive enquiries from overseas, from the States to UK/Europe and Australia. I want to facilitate a way in which a customer can purchase using one platform, from the UAE or overseas. There may also more plans in the pipeline for new designs and perhaps appearing in one or two other stores in the future!
Find Maddy&Eva designs at Ripe Market at Zabeel Park and also Ripe Market Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. There’s also have a small collection at The Change Initiative on Sheikh Zayed Road. Buy Maddy&Eva online with at www.littlemajlis.com.