THIS INTERVIEW has barely started when Desiree Mejer, the face, force and personality behind hip cashmere company Fake London, answers her mobile phone. But it's only Keith, phoning to tell her how much he misses her. Keith Flint, that is, from techno-punk band The Prodigy. If taking a call from a rock star is a big deal in her life, Spanish-born Mejer, who was recently in Hong Kong on business, comes across as being far too cool to admit it. But with her clothing featured regularly in the glossiest glossies and most members of the British in-crowd seen regularly wearing it, you get a sneaking suspicion that this kind of thing happens to her all the time. Peppering the conversation, for example, are casual references to her friends, who are coincidentally big fans of her jumpers, such as the 'divine Jude' (Law), Kate (Moss), Liam (Gallagher), Patsy (Kensit) and the whole of Massive Attack. John (Galliano) has some of her sweaters ('It's very ego boosting') as apparently have designers Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen and Christian Lacroix. Mejer, originally from Cadiz in southwest Spain, started her brand Fake London seven years ago as a hobby. She hadn't been to fashion college; in her words, she hadn't been anywhere. Rather, she simply decided to cut up vintage cashmere jumpers, recreate them in a riot of patchwork, and emblazon them with her signature Union Jack flag. 'We started Cool Britannia,' says Mejer. 'Putting the Union Jack on things was unique back then - but now they're everywhere. We were also the first to recycle cashmere. If I told you exactly where I get it from - I get it from everywhere - I'd have to kill you. Nobody does it the way we do, but recycling is immediate and easy for people who like being creative. As with everything, it's refreshing to see creativity - good and bad.' In Mejer's opinion - of which she has many - the idea behind anything fake is that it reflects the essence of the real thing. She puts the essence of quintessential Britishness into her clothes but gives it a humorous twist, assuming her customers are intelligent and will appreciate the joke. Such traditional Brit-centric traits include a love of sport (jumpers emulating stripy football shirts are among her best-sellers), the Union Jack (her trademark) and the Krufts annual dog show (canine motifs have long been a mainstay of her collections and Mejer recently brought out a line dotted with rosettes). 'I feel so at home in London where I live, my clothes celebrate British patriotism, but I'm not British. I'm fake,' she says. 'Cashmere is luxurious, but recycled is tongue-in-cheek luxury - it's not quite the real thing. When you do something fake, I believe you're paying homage to the real thing.' As extroverted and colourful as her clothes, Mejer might exude the impression that life is just one big party but she's very serious about her business. What started as a one-woman show has now increased to a staff of 20 in her East London studio, although she admits she finds it hard to delegate and continues to oversee everything. Nor is she about to sign her life away to a mega-group for the sake of making money - well, not until the offer is exactly what she wants. She is, she says, used to being the boss and if approached by a large fashion group she would insist on keeping artistic direction in her hands. Faced with this tenacity, corporate bigwigs wouldn't stand a chance: if Mejer says she wants something, she generally gets it. 'I like being in control but, with me, it's not just about profit,' she says. 'Of course it's a business, but I think that everyone working for me has got to have a life too. It sounds cheesy but it's true. 'Fake London has a definite style that anyone could copy, but how it is put together is very important. It would have to be me doing it - corporate figures know f*** all about fashion. I feel for every different piece I make. The day I don't want to do it, I'll give up.' Designing, she believes, is a gift, like singing. Not everyone can do it well and even though a singer might have composed a classic song, he or she will still come up with new words and melodies. Fake Genius (Mejer's popular denim line) and Fake Surf (a wetsuit-inspired collection to be launched next summer) are just two of the new tunes she has come up with; her debut show at London Fashion Week in spring included micro-minis a la Mary Quant, parkas in British military camouflage and bondage trousers. While pleased that her quirky clothes feature in top-end stores such as The Cross, Harvey Nichols and Browns in London, and Joyce and Seibu in Hong Kong, and in the wardrobes of the glitterati, Mejer insists they aren't fashion items. She prefers to see them as collectables and her clientele as members of a club, who range in age and style but all of whom, naturally, have taste. 'Once you buy a Fake, you can always spot a Fake wearer,' she says. 'People are much more discerning about fashion these days and are tired of multinationals taking the p***. They appreciate a good product that is well made, different and has some thought behind it. My stuff has to look good first; its funny side is a bonus. 'I make all my things with love and enthusiasm, so it's great when people talk about my clothes - with each other, with sales assistants, with me. And it's great to spot people on the streets wearing the pieces and really loving them.' She believes there is a huge discrepancy in the fashion industry between what people want and what fashion buyers buy from designers - a cycle she is trying to break. According to Mejer, head buyers in the early 1990s were formidable figures with a talent for trend spotting. Now she likens them to secretaries, just carrying out their jobs with no real creativity. 'It is heartbreaking to see which pieces of a collection make it into the shops. A brand should speak for itself and that's the responsibility of the buyer as well as the designer.' She does, however, have a lot of respect for Joyce Ma, who is 'inquisitive, innovative and interested in fashion, and has done a lot for Hong Kong'. Whereas London, Mejer's most important market, is a huge creative force, giving people there a lot of clothing choice, Mejer feels that Hong Kong tends to be bombarded by big-name brands that stifle rising talent. 'I'm not saying big companies don't have talent - they do - but they push aside smaller names,' she says. 'That's why Joyce is great for Hong Kong. It offers alternatives, which aren't necessarily practical but have a lot of thought behind them. Independent boutiques are so refreshing and a good shop only adds to a city's culture.' Although the climate in Hong Kong precludes the wearing of Fake's heavier items, Mejer says her clothes are selling well, particularly the scarves adorned with dogs. And the merry band of Hong Kong people in the Fake 'club' is growing all the time. 'At the end of the day, fashion is fun, all about giving people pleasure,' says Mejer. 'You probably don't really need another jumper, but you will find you need a Fake.'