Meet the Designer: Sadie Clayton

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1. Describe your brand in one sentence.

Sculptural, feminine, independent and empowering.

2. What inspires your designs?

I take my inspiration from everyday life because I find it fascinating and it means that everyone can relate to and add their personal touch to my pieces when they wear them, it makes the whole experience more holistic. I have two concepts which I have explored over the last few seasons which are time and headspace.  

Being inspired by the world around me and seeing everyone, including myself, doing everything possible to fit their many responsibilities into every day work and home life, I have developed the concept of how difficult is to find time for everything and even more so the headspace and creative space for oneself.  A more personal twist is also the integration of the use of crystals in the collection. I am a firm believer in the benefits of crystals within our every day lives and which are often used in spiritual journeys. I translate their natural shapes into the shapes of my garments or holistically as part of the journey which I elaborate through my embroidery and embellishment.

I dress a woman who does not follow trends and enjoys fashion as an expression of her personality not as a representation of how others may expect her to dress

3. What type of woman is a Sadie Clayton customer?

She’s strong minded and happy to be different (whether a little or a lot), independent, ambitious in her own way and culturally curious.  I dress a woman who does not follow trends and enjoys fashion as an expression of her personality not as a representation of how others may expect her to dress.

4. How long have you been designing and what inspired you to get started?

I grew up in a society where being mixed race was a minority, I looked different so had the choice to follow the cultural stereotypes or embrace who I was, have fun with it and take advantage of my cultural fusion. I began designing at a young age - I’d buy fabric from Ikea and make a dress by draping fabric on a mannequin and jazz it up by adding buttons from my very large vintage buttons collection. Then, as now, everybody wore the same clothes, followed the same trends, but I wanted to wear avant-garde, interesting clothing and create my own trends, so studying fashion and moving to London and creating my own label was a way to do this.  

My brand launched in 2015 and I debuted my first commercial collection in February 2016.

5. What was the first ever item of clothing you designed – and do you still have it?  

A leather dress with copper saddles down the front, which is part of my archive.

6. Describe your design process.

I rinse my crystals so I feel that I'm in a cleansed state of mind to begin the next collection, then I write lists of keys words to describe the mood I want to project, collect imagery and fabrics, design a mood board and a colour board, begin sketching for the imagery, make mini versions of the sculptural pieces on an 18inch mannequin, sketch from the mini sculptures to develop the shape/cut, drape shapes onto a mannequin, and finally begin pattern cutting. I create lots and lots of sketches and then once I have my ideas together I sit down and hone the key looks and pieces.

I would recommend anyone to think about it carefully and create a strong support structure from the beginning

7. Any advice for someone just getting started in fashion design?

I would recommend anyone to think about it carefully and create a strong support structure from the beginning.  The business is tough and you need great tenacity and determination, endless amounts of energy and the desire to put in a lot of hard work but also amazing people around you to help you succeed.

8. What kind of designers did you intern with, and why did you choose them?

One of the first ones was at ShowStudio with Nick Knight, I modeled Gareth Pugh’s stealth bomber couture piece for an exhibition called ‘in your face’. This was really when I saw the inside angle of a fashion/art exhibition, which I guess has influenced my fusion of fashion and art.

I then went and interned at Gareth Pugh. That was interesting, seeing and working in a real fashion environment. My Una Burke internship was epic. She taught me how to work with a hide from scratch! Also, she always had lots of projects on and commissions which was mega inspiring. I did a project for John Galliano in my final year at university - so going over to his studio in Paris and having a tutorial with the studio manager was invaluable. He made me really think about the woman I was designing for.

9. Who inspires you, both from fashion and other spheres?

There are many people but the writer Paul Arden, and the designer Ron Arrad are at the top.

10. Who are your fashion idols and why?

Thierry Mugler, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela, Comme des Garcons, Jacquemus. They epitomize a similar aesthetic purity and image that I find in my own designs and in their own way stand for similar aspirational objectives for our woman.

11. What are your main goals for your fashion label?

World domination! and taking the label and my creativity outside of just fashion but also into other areas of lifestyle and design.

12. Your dream collaboration?

I would love to collaborate with a chain of boutique hotels on their interior design – preferably one who had a location in Miami ☺

13. What has been the best part of your fashion journey so far?

How unexpected collaborations have enabled me to travel and therefore open my brand up to other opportunities.

Marc Cameron