Today's post is all about independent women designers. I'm never exaggerating when I say I love independent designers and labels. It's a serious big time love. We're thinking of moving in together. I spend hours trawling the internet finding new ones or swooning over the ones I already know. Often a one man (or woman in this case) show, they're out there constantly creating and making, without restrictions of any predetermined expectations or brand history. This isn't to say, of course, that they don't have a style, each label certainly carves out an identity, it's more a case of being able to design without the idea of 'representing the brand', and this allows fresh ideas to flow freely.
TOOFARCHAR is a brand run by Charlotte Matthews (whose graduate collection I featured in 'New Generation' for Hope Street). Whilst her graduate collection was bursting with texture (suede, leather, sequins, and more, all with a sportswear edge) Charlotte has drawn on the other stand out element of it - print - to design a range of beautiful, high quality t-shirts. All artwork is produced by Charlotte; she utilises painting, hand drawing, photography and CAD to create her prints. Even though the t-shirts are only £25 (this means you should buy one immediately), they feel super expensive. The heavy weight polyester hangs perfectly and doesn't crease which is the best thing ever for anyone who hates ironing. Charlotte worked hard to keep the momentum going after graduating, and it shows her ability to design on both a high end and a commercial level.
Next up is Somewhere Nowhere. I may have cheated a little bit on this one. Somewhere Nowhere is run by Rex Lo and Elly Cheng, but for the sake of the Destiny's Child title, Rex can be an honorary independent woman just this once. I've wanted this dress for what feels like an age, so when they finally re-stocked I had to snap it up. It then sold out again almost immediately. I featured a Q&A with the brand in September last year and since then they've continued to produce more fluffy, shiny wonders and I can't get enough of it. Clearly, I'm not alone. They've racked up over 65,000 followers on Instagram and have customers worldwide.
|T-shirt: TOOFARCHAR, Dress: Somewhere Nowhere, |
Earrings: Ciara Clark worn with H&M cycling shorts and
Topshop shoes and socks
|Jacket: Chantelle Richardson|
|Top and trousers: Chantelle Richardson, Earrings: Ciara Clark |
worn with Nike slides
Chantelle Richardson is a graduate of De Montfort University. Her graduate collection is a riot of colour, print and embellishment. Unfortunately for me and my wardrobe, her pieces aren't actually in production; the pieces I'm wearing are ones I've pulled for shoots. Should she launch her own line, however, I'll be her first customer! The eye and hand print crop top is my absolute dream top. The print and bold colour palette is divine, and what you can't see here is all the hand beading and embellishment that only serves to add to the rich texture. Chantelle has had seen her print work hit the rails in River Island but I would just love to see her create her own range. Eye print crops for everyone!
|Close up of Ciara Clark earrings. Fake sparkles may vary.|
And finally, Ciara Clark. I first featured Ciara's pieces in 'Tropicana' for Novembre Magazine and have used them a number of times since (and will continue to do so!). Ciara works predominantly with acrylic, and whilst the holographic, iridescent pieces are certainly what she's known for, her style and skills stretch far beyond this and she's recently been working on a new collection, experimenting with materials such as corian and cork. The beautiful heart earrings get compliments every time I wear them, which is essentially all the time, and I can't wait to see what Ciara's new collection brings when it launches along with her new website next season.
These are the kind of beauties you can find if you turn away from the high street and go straight to the source. There are so many independent labels out there putting out amazing collections and product, who deserve your attention and, if I'm going to be blunt, your money. Spending £30 on a mass produced t-shirt, is just spending £30 on a mass produced t-shirt, but spending £30 on, for example, a print tee or a pair of earrings, is investing in a creative process and prolonging the life of a label that is there to excite people, not just sell to them.