Meet Neil Elliott…
Meet Neil Elliott, co-founder of Patternbank.com, an online textile print studio and trend forecasting site. He basically took the concept of selling stock photos and applied it to the fashion industry. His idea disrupted the fashion print business model and has changed the textile print industry in the process. He is like the Airbnb of the fashion print design! If you have ever had a crazy idea that would totally change your industry or the way people work you have to read this interview!
We couldn’t cover every possible angle of the textile print industry in just one post! This article is part of an 8 part Fashionable Textile Print Biz Series. If you want to learn how you can build a successful career in the fashion textile print industry check out the other articles that are part of this series at the bottom of the page. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook group called PickGlass Fashionable Careers. See you there!
Prior to Patternbank, I held the position of Head of Global, Trends & Insights at Avery Dennison RBIS. Here supporting the commercial teams with trend forecast reports and marketing analysis that would be shared with brands, which included Nike, Hugo Boss, M&S, Uniqlo, Levi’s, Burberry and Patagonia.
Before joining Avery Dennison, I held the position of Senior Editor of Print & Graphics at Stylesight.com. Here I managed the original print & graphics library, created packaging forecast & branding reports, design tutorials and covered key graphic and print trade shows. Other previous creative roles include Graphics Manager for Timberland Global Apparel and Print & Graphics Senior Editor at WGSN. On Education, I studied a BA Textiles Design at The University of Derby.
Making the leap to business owner…
Going into business for myself Is something that I’ve always wanted to do.
I believe it’s a natural progression after you have gained industry experience. Whilst at WGSN I was always tracking the most visited parts of the site. The Print & Graphics directory was always around the third most viewed section, after the Trends and Catwalk directories. I knew there was a business model for a Print & Graphics online trend & textile studio a long time ago. Although it took several jobs before I had the nerve to make the jump from full-time employment.
Offering a unique selling point…
With any new company, you need to offer something different and have a unique selling point. Patternbank is an online textile studio and trend forecasting site. We have the largest community of textile designers selling their designs to buyers all around the globe. We offer the designs in several licensing formats: Our Standard License is for non-commercial products The Extended License lets buyers use the designs on a product for resale and our higher priced Premium License offers exclusivity to the buyer. Once a Premium License design is purchased from the site it’s removed and the buyer owns it outright. The lower Standard and Extended Licenses stay on the site and can be purchased multiple times (Royalty-free). The licenses offer different digital file formats with the higher priced Licenses offering editable design files.
Going to the next level…
We are currently upgrading the site again, this time we are focused on the user experience. Our aim is to make the buying and selling of designs an incredible visual experience, whether you are looking for the newest trend driven design, need a particular print for a product or are looking for creative inspiration. We are constantly looking to evolve and grow. We also believe collaboration with industry partners is a fantastic way of growing business for both parties.
Patternbank is a fairly new company and has really only been trading for 3 years. We are still growing and we will need to look to scale the business in the next year or so.
The industry is constantly evolving and change is part of any industry. As a company, you should always deliver more than expected and challenge the old ways. Now instead of walking large soulless trade show halls, you can now purchase a textile or surface pattern design from the comfort of your own workspace or office. With new site functions on Patternbank, you can now scale a print design and visualize the design on a dress, sneaker, rucksack, shirt or wall. This gives you the option to see the design on it before purchasing, something you can’t do at a trade show.
Looking ahead for the textile industry…
Everything is getting faster – seasons, production, the customers’ attention span. The fashion textile industry is very much a tactile industry so touch and visualization of a product are key. Most of the process is now done with the assistance of technology – digital or machinery. The textile and surface design part of the process will become even more digital. I believe Virtual Reality technology will play a big part in the next industry change. Virtual showrooms/design studios will speed the process up even further. Then, add 3D printers into the mix and the process gets even more interesting.
Designers need to have a good commercial sense of what’s happening in the market. It’s important that as well as being a strong designer they are looking at the catwalks, in-store, online and tracking print trends that are happening or emerging. Also, we are looking for designers that have a passion for pattern!
My advice to would-be print designers is to research the market, check out what’s happening within the fashion, interiors, accessories and giftware market. Retail safaris are a great way of picking up trends as well as gaining creative inspiration.
Visionaries to aspire to…
I admire Steve Jobs for his product vision, Tom Ford for his visual style in fashion & film, Larry Page from Google for pushing tech boundaries and Bob Hoskins for his life quotes(worth a Google).
I’ve met many big brand Creative Directors & Creative future thinking entrepreneurs, I was recently in contact with Marc Worth who sold WGSN to EMAP for $245 million, he advised me to ‘Keep things simple’. Another key business mentor and ex-employee is stylesight.com founder & CEO Frank Bober. Whilst working at Stylesight one of his key statements was ‘to offer what your customer doesn’t know they need’.
Fashion Textile Print Business Series
If you, or someone you know, is interested in a career as a textile print designer check out the entire series here. Learn what skills you need to know how to get started. And learn what it takes to run a successful textile print business today.
- What Is A Fashion Textile Print Designer?
- What Does A Textile Print Designer Do?
- How To Be A Successful Textile Print Designer
- Interview With Marc Freeman From Bella Prints
- Top 10 Tips For A Successful Textile Print Designer
- How Top Print Designers Keep Coming Up With New Creative Ideas
- How To Build Your Own Textile Print Design Business
- Interview With Neil Elliott Founder Of Pattern Bank