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. 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. They’ve racked up over 65,000 followers on Instagram and have customers worldwide.
And finally, Ciara Clark. I first featured Ciara’s pieces in an editorial 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.