I’m excited to bring you an interview with Diane, the fabulous owner of new tall brand Diane Margaret. Diane reached out to me via email to let me know about her new venture and exuded such a positive and uplifting attitude that I knew I needed to learn more about her. I was also intrigued by her passion for environmentally and socially conscious fashion and my eyes perked up when I saw that she was planning to launch some golfwear soon since I had a terrible time finding golf apparel when I tried taking golf lessons to impress the husband a few years ago. Diane Margaret’s current line consists of a few classic dresses, a wrap jacket, patterned jeans and some accessories.
Read on to learn more about Diane and her plans for her tall clothing line!
TFA: Tell me a bit about you, your background and what inspired you to launch the tall brand Diane Margaret.
DM: I am a tall woman, 5’10”, who has struggled to find ready to wear that fits my long lines. I am a lifelong sewer, inspired by my Mom. When I was 8 my parents gave me a “child’s play” sewing machine for Christmas. It broke immediately but not before I became passionate about learning to sew. Mom started teaching me on her own machine. She was very inventive and always thinking of new and more effective ways of doing things. Mom was not a rule follower and she taught me to approach sewing in the same way. This approach earned me minimal success in high school Home Ec, but it did establish a practise of thinking outside the box! The seed of an idea for Diane Margaret design was planted upon my return to Canada after living in Mexico for three years. I was very disappointed with the lack of clothing options for tall women and with the poor construction and inferior quality of ready-to-wear clothing in general. What was available for tall women was basic and run of the mill. My love for unique garments and proper fit fuelled that initial idea.
As I explored the possibilities and learned more of the state of the fashion industry, it’s impact on our water & carbon footprints and the unethical treatment of textile factory workers, I felt inspired to build a clothing brand based on sustainability and social responsibility.
TFA: Over the past year, I have been paying more attention to fabrics and I’m impressed by your commitment to environmentally and socially conscious fashion. I’d love to know more about the fabric selections and sourcing for the Diane Margaret collection.
DM: I am so encouraged when I hear people are paying attention to fabric choices particularly from an environmental and social perspective. This is such an important part of Diane Margaret as we believe that we are at the crest of a wave of change. We have seen the demand for “fast fashion” spawn into a saturated market of “disposable cotton clothing”. There are designers, clothing manufacturers and fashion retailers, like myself, who believe that sustainable, and socially conscious clothing can be fashionable, can be of high quality and can be produced in an ethical and financially viable way.
Several years ago, fashion industry leaders responded to abhorrent conditions in sweatshops, dye shops and fibre/textile production plants as well as the adverse effects the industry had on our world water and carbon footprints directly related to the production of cotton. Their response was to start a conversation asking the question “How can we clean up the mess our industry has created?” Since then those who follow the industry closely are now contributing to that conversation.
With the dialogue eventually trickling down to the general consumer, we will see a shift in the consumer conscious thereby initiating a change in our supply & demand chain. My hope is Diane Margaret may help expedite that change. I am grateful to have sourced suppliers who share my vision and offer sustainable fabric choices like bamboo hemp and linen. The luxuriousness, wash & wearability, and drape of a fabric are also vital considerations in the selection process. We manufacture in our home community, Kelowna Canada, with a production team of local craftspeople who share our social and environmental consciousness.
TFA: I see you plan to offer golf apparel in the future. I was taking golf lessons a few years ago and was dismayed that golf wear for tall women was virtually non-existent so your plans are very exciting for me! I’d love to hear about the golf apparel you’re designing.
DM: I started golfing several years ago and have put up with ill fitting golf clothing and made do with regular street clothes. Neither option works well. Regular fit golf wear in addition to skimpy sleeve lengths and short inseams have incorrect knee placement on a tall person which causes tension and restricted movement during your stance. My golf game demands every ounce of focus I can muster up, worrying about tugging seams, creeping sleeves and how my flood pants must look are not attention stealers my game can afford! Street clothes do not offer the benefits of golf specific garments.
Diane Margaret Golf pants are designed with a longer front pocket bag. The generous sized pocket comfortably stores extra balls and tees, 2 back welt pockets to easily slide your score card in and out and hold your glove when not in use, plus we allow extra room through the seat and thigh for unrestricted ease of movement during our stance and swing ……and the most important reason for properly fitted golf specific garments….We deserve it! We deserve to look good, feel comfortable and enjoy all aspects of the game. You will notice on the golf course or watching tournaments on TV, golf attire is a very big and fun part of the whole golf experience! Remember the flamboyant style of professional golfer Payne Stewart and his take on the classic golf knickerbocker? Or John Daly and his over the top loud shirts? Many golfers may be ultra conservative dressers off the course but boy oh boy get them on the links and it’s a whole other ball game!!
TFA: I am always intrigued and impressed by entrepreneurs, and I’m eternally grateful to the tall women who have bravely started their own clothing lines. What is it like being an entrepreneur especially in the tall fashion scene? What have been your biggest challenges? What bits of advice do you have for women who are toying with the idea of filling a niche in the tall clothing world by starting their own line?
DM: My husband and both of my children are entrepreneurs which provides me with lots of experience to draw from. Entrepreneurship demands a certain skill set and attitude regardless of the industry you are in. A well thought out business plan and market research are imperative steps combined with the ability to self motivate, commit and problem solve are all essential to success. My biggest challenge has been working through any self limiting beliefs! Acknowledging those beliefs, accepting where they came from and having the willingness to move through them has been the solution. Knowing with absolute certainty that I am doing exactly what I am meant to be doing and realizing failure is only a possibility if I chose to give up has helped move me forward.
We all have unique gifts, perspective and vision and there’s room for all of us to succeed! Solve a problem, have a narrowly defined target market, strive to do one thing really well and while you’re doing all that keep your life in balance! Have fun, laugh with the people you love and be of service to others by living your purpose.
TFA: What will we see next from Diane Margaret?
DM: I am currently working on a line of linen separates, relaxed, unpretentious, with a simple elegance perfect for the long willowy lines of the taller woman.
I really admire and respect Diane Margaret’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility and can’t wait to see the linen separates since I’ve had a terrible time finding great linen pieces in tall sizes in the past.
Do you give much thought to where fabrics came from or how/where a garment was made when you buy clothing? Have you ever tried playing golf or other sports/activities but had a terrible time finding suitable apparel?