Interviews

Interviews with my favourite designers and creatives

An Interview With Couture Designer Tobias Malfoy

There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a new account on Instagram that you absolutely love. I know because that’s exactly how I felt when I first saw designer Tobias Malfoy’s feed. His monochrome, minimal aesthetic really spoke to me and in particular a gorgeous, black, lace up jumpsuit that was to die for. I feel like he’s a young designer that has a real appreciation for good tailoring and the talent to execute it.  As a recent graduate he’s decided to set up his own studio here in Cardiff, making him the perfect person to interview for my blog. Here’s what he had to say…

tobias-malfoy-couture-designer-interview-fahshion-blog-style-rarebit

Graduating from a creative degree can be pretty tough but you’ve done so well since leaving uni, do you have any advice for graduates?

Thank you so much, my success is purely down to hard work, determination and passion. My advice to fashion/creative graduates is to find your niche and carve your own path. So many follow the same journey to join the fashion industry, but I think it’s so much better find what you really love doing, focus on that and be yourself.

What made you want to start your own line over working for another brand? 

I followed my own advice, I wanted to stay in Wales and set up a business focusing on creating high-end styles in a way that I’m really passionate about. Everything I do is hand-made using Haute Couture techniques with fine fabrics and materials, something I wouldn’t be able to do if I was working for another company.

I have interned for fashion designers/labels, whilst I enjoyed my time working for other people I always felt like I wanted to be my own boss and make my own decisions. The passion for what I do really drives me forward, my failures are my own but my successes are my own too and that really does give you a sense of pride and accomplishment you can only learn from taking the leap and going solo. It was a challenge setting up my own label, it still is a challenge but I enjoy it so much and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m excited for what the future holds for me.

What’s a typical day in the studio like for you? 

A typical day in the studio for me usually starts around lunchtime, I like my sleep and my brain doesn’t seem to kick into action until after noon! I have a beautiful view overlooking the water of Cardiff Bay, so it is always flooded with natural daylight, the first thing I do everyday is open the curtains and put on some music. I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, many would say awful but music is key to getting work done for me. ABBA, Blink-182, Poppy, plus my carefully curated playlists can always be heard coming from my studio.

I spend most of my day sewing, pattern drafting and packaging orders. Going to the post office is always a nice little break from work, I walk there so it’s a little bit of exercise, fresh air and allows me to get my daily dose of Pokemon Go. Then it’s back to sewing usually, I work till quite late most days, Im definitely more of a ‘night owl’ as I can happily work until 1/2AM. I do of course take regular breaks, and I always make time to go cook, have dinner and watch Netiflix with my wonderfully supportive boyfriend. He sometimes surprises me with cookies when he comes home with work and it honestly makes my day.

Who is the Tobias Malfoy woman? 

The Tobias Malfoy woman.. I think she’d be a pretty awesome person. She would be someone who truly loves and appreciates fashion and style, someone who respects trends but isn’t a slave to them, someone who can appreciate the craftsmanship, talent and artistry that has gone into the pieces she is wearing. I feel that she could be the curator of her own wardrobe, each item carefully selected and each item loved dearly. She would be the sort of woman to buy less, but buy well; quality is very important to her. I would like to meet her one day, and I’m sure I will.

tobias-malfoy-couture-designer-interview-fahshion-blog-style-rarebit

Are there any other designers or creatives in Wales that you love?

Wales is full of amazing, creative and talented people. I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many during my time at university and at events such as Cardiff Fashion Week. I absolutely love what The Sustainable Studio has done, it’s so great to have a space for creatives in Cardiff and there are so many awesome people there doing awesome things. I would definitely like to have a space there one day, being surrounded by other creative souls is just so inspiring. BEWT Studios is another great place, I’ve had the pleasure of working with them and I look forward to doing more there in the future, my debut collection was shot there and it’s such a beautiful building. Tailor Green at the Castle Emporium; he was the first boutique to stock my work and he’s not just a great guy to work with but he’s such a close friend now. His store is a hidden gem in Cardiff, he stocks vintage pieces, festival/club/drag wear and my own label. You are likely to find me in there on my days off, having a good chat and planning future events and projects! Finally, I have to mention Wenda James-Rowe, I was fortunate to work with her during CFW2018. She’s an incredible woman, from her styling talents to her charity work, I’m excited to work with her again at future Cardiff Fashion Week events.

Loved this? Click here for more chat with my fave Welsh creatives.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

A Chat With Delicious Monster Tea

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you’ll know that I used to interview welsh designers pretty regularly. So far I’ve chatted to some of my creative faves including Swag and Tassel and Xandra Jane and I’m so excited that I’m finally getting around to writing some more.

I first spotted Delicious Monster Tea on Instagram after seeing Claire’s t-shirts everywhere and I haven’t stopped following since. From the pink colour scheme to the super cheeky slogans (my personal fave is “thick thighs, thin patience”) there’s nothing not to love. Now that she’s taking the venture full time I thought it was the perfect opportunity to sit down and talk all things embroidery.

interview-delicious-monster-tea-blogger-style-rarebit

I LOVE the name Delicious Monster Tea, where did it come from?

I wish I had a good answer to this question!! The idea came from the giant monstera plant we have in the lounge (Latin name: monstera deliciosa). I’m not sure where the tea bit came from, but basically it means absolutely nothing!

The slogans on your tees always make me giggle, what was the first one you embroidered?

The first one I did was a “ladyboss” one on a white tee from Primark, and then I want on a spree embroidering everything I owned!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BeKlYjDHGd5/?taken-by=deliciousmonstertea

 

You quit your 9-5! Yass! Living the dream! What’s instore for your brand now that you have so much extra time on your hands?

I can finally start ticking things off my to do list!! I have a few weeks left at work, but I am so stupidly ridiculously excited to finally make a start on the things that have been itching in my brain over the past year. Top of the list are vest tops, embroidery workshops and some DIY blogs.

You’re so active online and I love your Insta stories! How has social media helped to grow your business?

Thank you! I didn’t have any form of social media before I started the business, so it has been a very steep learning curve, and there are often days when I think “what the fuck have I got left to say?!” I haven’t quite figured out Facebook, but I’ve fallen in love with Insta and have ended up meeting so many people from the grid in real life. To be totally honest, my business wouldn’t exist without social media. About 90% of customers currently come from Instagram. I worry that I rely on it too much (there’s a lot of fear mongering at the moment about “what will happen when Instagram dies?”), so on my list for the next few months is to get out and about in the real world, shouting about Delicious Monster Tea.

View this post on Instagram

#notyourbabe 💁 (📷 by @the.littlenomad)

A post shared by Delicious Monster Tea | Claire (@deliciousmonstertea) on

You’re one of my favourite girl bosses in Wales, are there any others who inspire you?

OH, SO MANY!! Again, Instagram is a great tool for finding small businesses and learning from them. @themonday.club (a group of women in business in South Wales, run by @theroamingcaravanco and @sadlerjones) has introduced me to so many great women who are doing their own thing and absolutely smashing it. There are too many to list, but my favourites at the moment are: @potyertitsawayluv (boobs and ceramics), @jazmoodie (embroidered nudes), @tayneetinsley (gorgeous illustration of lovely naked ladies)…..there’s definitely a theme there!

 

Follow Delicious Monster Tea!

Instagram // Facebook // Website

Talking sustainability with Xandra Jane

Continuing on from my interview with Sophie Wordsworth from Swag and Tassel (catch up here if you missed it) I’ve interviewed another designer who’s set up studio in Wales. I discovered Xandra Jane on instagram and as soon as I saw the pictures I wanted to share her pieces on here. Her hand knitted jumpers are a sustainable staple and are as classic as they are modern and cool and come in the most wearable selection of shades. The entire design process takes place in Wales, rebelling against fast fashion and creating luxury pieces that will last lifetime.

xandrajaneaw16_0651. What was it that first sparked your passion in designing sustainably?

My first ever sustainable garment was done in secondary school after discovering Gary Harvey and his financial times dress. It was an amazing display of skill out of something considered rubbish. So my first sustainable garment at the age of 14 was constructed from bin liners with an inexplicably horrendous black, orange and red colour scheme put together in an extravagant, costume-wear kind of way. It screamed “homeless Moulin Rouge”.

It wasn’t until 10 years later I approached sustainable fashion again after working in the industry in London. Unfortunately my university didn’t offer a sustainable project, which I find a massive shame as I firmly believe it’s the future of design. Companies I worked for highlighted issues with mass production or unfair labour within the industry. When I moved back home to Wales it was a chance to start my own business exercising the morals I believe in, for me it’s a lifestyle choice. People are becoming so aware of nutrition and health, eating everyday and clothing yourself everyday are occurrences we can’t escape. It’s a shame we even have to label sustainable fashion in the first place, all fashion should be responsible and sustainable! However although a lifestyle choice for me, I don’t wish to push this on my customer. The information is readily available should they choose to educate themselves further. I hate the sense of a company preaching when that is certainly not what I am trying to do.

2. Many designers don’t try to create sustainable clothing because they think it’s more expensive or harder to find the right fabrics, have you found this to be true?

To an extent it is true of course, but the essence of design is to problem solve so I have an issue with designers who shy away from sustainable clothing for this reason. I feel many are daunted by the word itself and feel they have to go 100% eco straight away. This is not the case. As a start up brand it would be easy for me to choose the cheapest less responsible options in order to maximise profit but if emerging designers work this way then how will change ever take place? My debut collection unfortunatley doesn’t use eco fabrics however I have made sure not one scrap of fabric goes to waste. I will of course work up to being as 100% sustainable as I can but for now as a young designer just starting out I have to be as resourceful as possible. This is problem solving, this is design.

I also struggle with brands who use eco fabrics yet release a basic white t-shirt and charge a premium price, because there is no design work involved in that. I understand a white t-shirt is a staple, timeless piece, but us fashion designers are meant to bring new silhouettes, new fabric manipulation techniques and ultimately new fashion to our customer.

3. Whats the vision for your brand and how do you see it developing?

To reconnect people with their clothing and rebel against fast fashion. You know how supermarkets introduced ‘wonky veg’ boxes… I’m trying to do that with fashion. Who made the clothes you wear? Do you know where the fabric was sourced from? Do you know how many people were involved in the creation or how many hours were spent making it? Each garment I produce comes with a unique journey card and also gives credit to those involved in the construction, which definitely includes the otherwise undervalued interns!

Interns are integral to the fashion industry and often exploited, I am so grateful for such enthusiastic and positive people who put aside their valuable time to gain experience and work towards the improvement of my business. This, I personally feel, is one of the biggest issues with labour within the UK fashion industry. I also want to become an eco pioneer from Wales. Cardiff is such an up and coming city and I am so patriotic of my background.

I am looking to produce each Autumn Winter collection with a zero waste ethos and each Spring Summer collection with an up cycled/reinvented twist. I am primarily a womenswear designer although I am enjoying the journey into gender neutral fashion and want this to continue. I have accessories in the pipeline and would love to collaborate in the future, as this produces stronger design rather than competing all the time. I just feel the industry needs an facelift as it were, to emerge from the darkness and hidden secrets and it is time for change.13412058_276440206036362_3394957783713203311_o

4. I love the knitted jersey pieces, especially the shorts and jumper combination. What attracted you to knitwear?

To be honest I’ve just stumbled into it. I guess this debut collection started from the initial idea of the jumper. I knew my time in London was coming to an end and I would have to come back to Wales, and being too stubborn to do anything else given I had spent so long studying and working towards a career in fashion design – it seemed the only option left. I knew I wanted to target a wide audience to give my brand the best chance of getting noticed and appealing to my target customer and my own personal style is very androgynous. So the jumpers are a one size fits all inclusive of both genders, with zero waste on textiles at the forefront of its aesthetic.

Not only can you pass the jumpers down through generations and genders, if you really felt it no longer had a place in your wardrobe you could always unravel it and knit the yarn into a new design or product. The shorts were a natural progression from there and the skirt is my entry piece. Xandra Jane is a luxury brand though in each collection I will always release at least one item at £100 or below for a more affordable option to my customer who may not necessarily be able to afford that iconic piece yet therefore won’t compromise on the style or luxury.

5. What was it about Wales that inspired you to start your business here?

I’m from Wales, I went to Cowbridge Comprehensive and have the best support network here in Cardiff where I’ve recently moved. I studied my foundation diploma in Art and Design at UWIC (Now Cardiff Met) before studying at UCA. I feel as a graduate there is a lot of pressure to ‘make it’ in London and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cardiff has incredible transportation links and is such a fast developing, creative city. Living costs are fantastic in comparison and you can have a quality of life which is otherwise unattainable in London. I have met inspiring creatives on my journey so far and we believe a strong fashion movement is about to happen. It’s liberating for me to live in a city that is so small in comparison but so full of life, you have an incredible range in scenery, with my Dad living in Porthcawl I’m often by the beach or nature reserve. There is also a lot of incredible support from organisations such as Business In Focus or The Princes Trust which have given me small steps of confidence in my development so far.

6. Are there any other Welsh designers who inspire you or who you would like to collaborate with?

I have had the pleasure of discovering Sarah Valentin and Julia Harris on my return home who are inspirational sisters with their own sustainable line called Dati Clothing. They have recently established a creative venue called The Sustainable Studio and are a brilliant force to be reckoned with in the sustainable field. Paired with other designers and fashion creatives we have been in discussion of future collaborations as all of us have different aesthetics and visions to bring to the table. Huit Denim have also been inspirational to me for their take on The History Tag which resonates with the journey I am trying to establish within clothing.

instagram @xandrajane

web www.xandrajane.com

An interview with Sophie Wordsworth // Swag and Tassel

I’ve had this idea for a long time to do a project on my blog on Fashion in Wales and I’ve been looking for potential designers, photographers etc to get involved. One of these brands is Swag and Tassel, which I discovered on instagram and instantly fell in love with. The designer Sophie Wordsworth creates beautiful, unique bags out of vintage carpets, as well as a selection of small leather goods. After sending me the most beautiful bookmark ever, I asked her if she would do a quick interview for StyleRarebit and she agreed. She will also be the first person I’ve ever interviewed for my blog so it’s an extra special one. Here goes…

SWAGANDTASSEL

When did you first discover the antique rugs and what inspired you to work with them as a textile?

I am lucky to have been brought up by parents who are antique collectors (and hoarders!) so have always had a real appreciation of antiquities, history and beautiful objects. My mum has owned a handmade carpet bag for over 30 years. A lot of my style inspiration comes from my mum, I can remember sneaking into her wardrobe to borrow this coveted one of a kind handbag. So when I was given a damaged antique carpet, ideas flooded in….

Most of the carpets I use are hand woven by nomads and villagers in Persia are not pre designed but created by the weaver as they go along. I try and work in much the same way creating individual patterns for each bag and letting the different thickness of the materials, the colours and the patterns influence each creation as I work.

I love the aesthetic of your brand, it’s so unique. What was your vision for Swag and Tassel before you launched your business and has it changed? 

I was never sure when I started the business whether I would be best placed in the craft market or the fashion market, I think finally I have found a good measure of both. I began creating carpet bags using leather as a structural secondary material, this has changed somewhat and I now use and appreciate both materials equally. As my vision began to grow I rebranded to what is now Swag and Tassel, this certainly helped me be more sure of the aesthetic and vision I want for my brand.

What’s your favourite piece you’ve ever made?

Its really hard to say as each piece is one of a kind, the materials are so precious and I put so much time and effort into each one… So I really love them all! Not to say I haven’t had a few disasters along the way… If I had to choose it would be a toss up between the handbag I made for my mums 60th birthday, its a hand painted veg tan leather shoulder bag I designed especially for her. Either that or the Finley Bag, that’s the name I gave to the large veg tan leather tote with a front carpet panel/pocket. It is such a simple and effective design, its the bag I use everyday.

swag and tassel

What’s a typical day in the studio for you?

Typical day in the studio for me begins with checking up on orders from Notonthehighstreet, I can then plan what needs to get made and sent out,and when. I like to get orders out the way in the morning and then leave the afternoons free to design and create new things. I recently made a collection especially for a stockist in New York using fragments of antique rug they had sent me so for about a month my days were spent blissfully designing and making a beautiful extra special collection.

Who is the Swag and Tassel woman?

The Swag and Tassel woman is someone with a very individual style who appreciates something completely different. Someone who appreciates elegant and simple effective design, with a certain Je n’est ce quoi. Age really doesn’t matter, two very stylish women I would like to see a Swag and Tassel handbag on would be Paloma Faith and Iris Apfel.

I think Wales is becoming more and more well known for creative talent all the time. What is it about Wales that inspired you to start your business here? 

The calm! My studio is in a little village in South West Wales. Its right by the water and is quiet and beautiful. It helps me create, I do miss living in London but feel more inspired and free here. I feel influenced by my surroundings and can’t imagine being anywhere but somewhere in Wales…

Sophie_ST_portrait_web_02-20150202161039

I’ve noticed lots of little accessories popping up on your Instagram (like my gorgeous bookmark!) are these developments part of a bigger plan for the future? Do you see Swag and Tassel becoming a lifestyle brand?

As most of the handbags take days to make I found myself looking for smaller projects that I could see more immediate satisfaction with, I also found myself falling in love with working with leather and began experimenting with techniques and different small leather goods. I also like the idea of being able to personalise items. Notonthehighstreet has been a great platform for this development.

Are there any other designers in Wales who’s work appeals to you and how do you feel about the creative scene here? 

I am very lucky to have a number of creative friends in Wales who are always on hand to give constructive criticism. I am really inspired by a close friend who I began in college with 13 years ago, went to the same university with and have shared the same trials and tribulations of starting and running a small business. Her name is Rose Wood and she is an award winning jeweller who now runs a successful business and has a studio in the village of Drefach Velindre where she expertly teaches jewellery making workshops. She works with leather as well as precious metals so is great to go leather shopping with! I think you have to look for the creative scene in Wales, but once you find it, it doesn’t disappoint.

For more products and info visit SWAGANDTASSEL.COM

*All images from Swagandtassel.com / Nic Ford

Betty Rae Vintage Interviews Me

After my little trip to BFW I was approached my Anam from Betty Rae Vintage to do an interview for their blog. I love the website and she had some really good questions, so I decided to share the answers here to. If you like vintage I recommend checking out their website BettyRaeVintage.com or find more Vintage related posts on their blog http://bettyraevintage.blogspot.co.uk.

brCan you tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog?
So, I’m 23 and I recently graduated from UCA Epsom in Fashion Womenswear. I started my blog after I finished studying- it was something I wanted to do for a long time and I was in need of a creative project to keep me motivated. Style Rarebit is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog full of lists, photographs and advice that I hope readers will find entertaining and useful.

You mentioned on Style Rarebit that you started blogging quite recently. Do you have any advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
My main piece of advice would be to make sure to get involved with your local blogging community. People who have been blogging for a long time are a wealth of helpful knowledge and are always the first to know about events that are happening nearby. I think it’s also really important to self-promote when you’re first starting out. I really loathed the idea of tweeting and sharing my posts, and I felt a bit embarrassed sharing my blog but I’ve got over that now. Opportunities don’t find you, so it’s really about getting it out there and making people aware of what you’re creating.

We love the way you mix vintage and contemporary fashion in some of your outfits. What’s your favourite vintage item?
Well, firstly, thank you! I’ve loved vintage since I was little and my grandmothers started passing down designer gems to me. My favourite piece at the moment is this Neiman Marcus dress which I think is from the mid-1960s. It has this block of crazy bright pink and I always get a lot of compliments in that dress. It also has pockets, I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with that, but there’s just something really cool about a smart dress having secret pockets.

What did you most love about Bristol Fashion Week?
I loved the ‘So You Think You Want to Work in Fashion?’ Q&A hosted after the show. I know it was really a side note and not as all singing/dancing as the main event, but I just felt I learnt a lot in that hour of time. I particularly connected to Shelly Vella and Jørgen Simonsen, I thought they both had some really concise advice about breaking into the industry. I actually tweeted about Simonsen straight after the show, I just felt he had such a great energy and passion for what he does and that’s really lovely to see.

Which of the trends on the catwalks of Bristol Fashion Week are you most excited about for Spring/Summer 2015?
I would definitely have to go with Utility, I just fell in love with everything from the Marc Jacobs show and I feel it’s the easiest trend to adapt into your wardrobe. Saying that though, I’m coveting some 70s platforms too, but it’s hard for a girl to choose just one!

logoFORWEB900PX