You grew up in London and then you came to New York, did living between the two cities influence your work or give you a different perspective?
Perhaps. One of the most noticeable things it that London is more, in some respects, authentic but I knew that it would be harder to actually maintain myself and be able to pay for living in London. Even the few jobs I was doing in London were just- I don’t know how I was supposed to survive. Definitely moving to New York allowed me to be self-sufficient. It was like a fresh start. New experiences, new city, new things. In that respect it was very inspiring because I was surrounded by all this newness.
Is there a supportive community for young designers in London?
Yes, yes, yes. London’s great for that!
I definitely have given and received lots of help/advice/support from my peers. I love that about being a London based designer. I don’t think I could be a designer anywhere else.
In my opinion, being inspired is like falling in love in the sense that it becomes a challenge of how to predict or force it. In that sense how do you cope with the demanding fashion calendar?
I’m not sure if I cope all that well. It’s a roller-coaster! Lots of extremes but at least it’s not boring.
Why did you choose to start your career in London versus other cities?
I visited quite a few times when I was younger, and I liked the energy. I had read a lot about Central Saint Martins. I used to get the airfreight issues of British Vogue and i-D when I was in Australia and the images of Boombox and the whole scene and designers at the time just looked so exciting.
The best thing about London is that there are so many people from all over the world. They’re all here doing their thing and all are trying to make it work, and it’s quite an inspiring community. Everyone needs to work really hard, and everyone needs to help each other because it’s such a struggle to get by as a small fish in a massive pond.
Have you seen the fashion scene change in London over the past couple of years?
Yeah, completely. I just read an article the other day; it was about how one of Alexander McQueen’s final shows before he died, changed the whole of fashion forever. I was lucky enough to somehow sneak into the show in Paris. It was the one with the armadillo shoes and amphibian silhouettes, “Plato’s Atlantis.” I used to just have no shame and just go and try my luck to get in! It was quite an important moment because it was the first show they streamed live for everyone to access and be a part of, the first time people realized they could reach millions of people, not just 200 fashion people. It opened fashion up to be accessible and democratic, although now most complain that it’s lost its exclusivity and aspiration. Burberry was one of the first big houses to do that; streaming the show live in Piccadilly Circus as well as online, and it had all of the big celebrities in attendance for the social media images. They were also one of the first companies to pick up the “see-now-buy-now” concept too. Everyone can see everything immediately and come up with their own opinion. You don’t have to wait for a journalist to feed it to you, which is great in a way but does also devalue our jobs and experience a bit.
Many designers burn out because now to keep people interested in your brand you have to produce 4 collections a year and constantly produce new content and interest. The speed of things has killed a lot of creativity, excitement and also the desire. When I moved here, it was all about Gareth Pugh and Christopher Kane and doing really fun really crazy stuff, but it’s not about that anymore. I think people have to be a lot more realistic; there’s a lot less money around today and people can’t take the risks that they used to.
Designers find it hard to get by. There are maybe two stores in London that sell the work of young designers. It’s Machine A, and then there’s Dover Street Market, but apart from that... when I arrived ten years ago, everyone was dressing up and getting into it. Obviously, retail is suffering as well because the convenience of e-commerce has stopped people from making an occasion and experience of going shopping.
What’s it like starting a career in the fashion industry in London?
There are pros and cons, but one of the pros is the immense energy and the acceptance of youth. I’ve always felt self-conscious about how young I was, so moving here, I’ve really appreciated the acceptance of youth.
How old are you now?
You're one year older than me!
People are so open to young people here. They're almost like, "You're young. You know what's cool. Tell me." I love that. And there're so many creative people working in the industry here, so there are good vibes. But you have to work really hard to make it, because if you don't someone else will.
But it’s also an exhausting place, and I think it ages you a lot. I think the major downside of London is the cost which makes it difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle, because you're overworked, underpaid, paying too much for rent, the air is polluted… But, I'm happy to sacrifice that while I'm here, at least for a while.
I think London and New York are the same in that sense, but I feel like London celebrates youth a little bit more.
I think it’s more creative here too. I feel like sometimes the general opinion about NYFW is that it's very corporate and business-y and there’s a lot of money. Whereas in London because of CSM and London College of Fashion, there are so many young designers that are not making any money but still make new amazing collections just because they want to show it to everyone.