Fiona Mills co-founded one of the UK’s most exciting outerwear brands – Parka London.
Fiona hails from New Zealand where she studied fashion at Wanganui Polytechnic. After graduating, she went straight into the fashion industry, designing apparel for street and surf brand Primal Surf (1999) all 100% made in New Zealand. Her next move aimed to widen her fashion expertise by becoming a cutter and production manager for Caroline Sills (2003), a premium knitwear company. In early 2005, Fiona moved to the UK and continued a career in fashion working with various private label companies managing the production of garments and outerwear selling into the UK High Street retail.
Around 2010, Fiona spotted a gap in the market for an outerwear brand with real integrity. With her years of expertise in all elements of production, from sourcing materials, the cutting and design process to selling product, she founded Parka London in 2012 with her business partner Stephen Lever. From the outset Fiona, as brand director, had a clear direction for Parka London – to design classic yet modernist garments for free thinking individuals who appreciate timeless designs.
Fiona Mill states: “Parka London is very much a British company with a deep understanding of the outerwear industry. Our collections are made with a modernist aesthetic of simplicity and an appreciation for good design, combined with the unpredictable UK weather, to offer wearers quality garments that both protect and shelter from the elements. At the moment we specialise in just outerwear which means all our design passion goes into making the best outerwear that people will love to wear and keep coming back to season after season. We keep the customer at the core of our thinking, characteristic design, timeless affordability, effortless style.”
We caught up with Fiona for the latest in our ‘My London’ interview series.
This is a hard one to choose, as I like to get about and don’t confine myself to one area, but the one place I can just spend time just pottering around and collecting inspiration and things for the house is Notting Hill.
Favourite place for brunch:
Ozone Café in Old Street makes the best baked eggs and is a go to for my husband and I when we are hankering for a long Sunday brunch. They roast their own coffee beans on site, and I enjoy watching the cooks in the open kitchen.
Best coffee in London:
St David’s Café in Forest Hill is our local. They make great coffee and the best cakes! It is a lovely café to hang out and catch up with friends on the weekends.
Favourite gallery or museum:
The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill amazes me every time I visit. The collections are just incredible, and the number of specimens and instruments in a small museum is unreal. Definitely worth a trip south for a visit.
Tell us a secret:
The T2 Strawberries and cream tea are to die for as is the apple pie tea. They are like drinking cake!
Favourite place to shop:
I think Brighton has a spattering of really good, independent stores and great restaurants so it’s my favourite day trip destination to shop. Especially as everything is within walking distance.
Favourite place to find inspiration:
The streets of London. I get most of my inspiration from people watching. I love how people put themselves together and the real sense of individualism that London offers people. You can be whatever and whoever you like here and you can see it in the way people dress, with that I am also fascinated by the tribe mentality too, different boroughs of London have a certain look. Such as Notting Hill vs Shoreditch.
Best London destination for a date:
Recently my husband and I had a great day out, we went to the Ivy in High Street Kensington, then to the Design Museum and then walked through the park to Notting Hill. We spent the day exploring, eating and drinking. That’s a pretty good date in my eyes and I love day dates!
Victoria Park is pretty special. I love a Saturday browsing the stalls at Broadway Market and then going for a walk along the canal into the park for a picnic. The fish and chips in Victoria Park Village have yet to be beaten.
Favourite food market:
Is Broadway Market, the fudge stand is always a magnet for me and I love the Vietnamese coffee (It’s very naughty with the condensed milk.) but I cannot walk past it.
Your sanctuary in the city:
Dulwich Park, I often walk from Forest Hill to Dulwich through the park and it feels like I am in a country town. Life seems slower for a few hours, and it is a greatly needed respite from the rush of the city.
What inspires you?
Music inspires me. I spend two hours a day travelling so am constantly on the lookout for new things to listen too. It makes the time go so much faster, and it can really change my mood. It has always been really important to me. Our favourite weekends include picking out a new vinyl each at Rough Trade.
This season I’m loving:
I am very much a lover of classics. I enjoyed pulling out my classic Russell and Bromley tan brogue boots when the weather turned and I have been enjoying the Lola Duster Coat from our AW17 collection, it goes with everything!