Sophie Cull-Candy runs her own womenswear label. Here she talks about a day in the life of a designer and plans for the future.
What did you study at LCF?
I studied Fashion Textiles, where I specialised in knit. I’d already done a foundation at CSM in art and design and I then went on to LCF to do a foundation degree in Knitwear and from that I managed to go straight into the 3rd year of BA Fashion Textiles, where I also specialised in knit.
Why did you choose to study here?
I knew LCF had a good reputation, so it had always been in my mind as one of my top choices, then when I did some research I read that its textile department had a really great amount of equipment so I was definitely drawn in by the fact I would have access to all these things that I’d never used before, especially the industrial knit machines.
What skills did you gain and how have you gone on to use these in your career?
I’d never really planned to specialise in knit, but I’m so glad I did. LCF has a large amount of Dubied machines which I got taught how to use. This has definitely benefited me by giving me a deeper understanding of knit and professional production of textiles – which I draw on everyday now when I’m working. I’ve always been really fastidious with presentation but LCF really pushed me and made me realise much more exciting ways to do this and how you present something is just as important as, if not more, than the thing you're presenting.
Did you collaborate on any projects while you were here?
In my second year we did an industry directed project where we could contact companies and offer to do a mock collection for them and essentially have a bit of mentoring. I contacted Christopher O’Brien, a menswear designer I was really interested in, who turned out to be working for Lyle and Scott and he really kindly said I could do it and we met up a few times throughout the project and talked over my work – which was great. I think it was from this project I became really interested in making my womenswear a bit more boyish and flexible between the genders.
What excites you about the fashion industry now?
That there really are no boundaries; it’s also really exciting that London is so often referred to for having the most experimental and moving designers. There also seems to be the beginnings of shift away from fast fashion towards buying less but buying better, which is so much more sustainable and satisfying – so I really hope this is something that progresses.
You make accessories and clothing – do these demand different skills?
Definitely, but for me they’re both something that’s very new and I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. I left my degree with a really in depth knowledge of knit but not as much about other things such and print or embroidery or jewellery – which are all things I plan on heavily incorporating into my collections, so its really fun to work with new things all the time and constantly be learning.
Tell us about an average day at your job?
I have my own studio now, so I come in in the morning and reply to all my emails, I also have a studio manager, Chloe, who helps out a lot with the non-making side of things. At the moment I’m the only one designing and producing – so most of my days are filled up with making orders for my previous collection and working on and experimenting with the new collection. I really love making the samples collections because absolutely everything you make is new and unexpected – the most fulfilling thing is seeing how they are used in editorials in magazines and seeing someone who’s bought a piece of you're collection actually wearing it!
What is your top tip for people who want to get into roles like yours?
Just go for it, but do plan ahead! I knew whilst I was at LCF I wanted to work for myself when I left so I started making my pieces available to stylists as early as possible and I posted a lot about my work online. I do work incredibly long hours and I don’t really do anything else - this is my job, my hobby and any free time is spent doing this – but it is so important to have people around you who are interested in what you're doing and who you can talk to, it will allow you to grow you're ideas and work much better. Also collaborate! I don’t get enough time to do it at the moment but it’s so great to work towards the same goal with someone who has a completely different mind from you.
Any British designers you are consistently excited to see each season?
Of course! The British designers are always who I pay the most attention to. I often look at Christopher Kane, Vivienne Westwood, Sibling, JW Anderson, Molly Goddard and Helen Lawrence, to name a few!
How do you think the British fashion landscape has changed?
It seems as though its probably much more fast paced with less time to develop things. But I think British fashion has always been the most experimental and I don’t think that’s has or is going to change.
What is your favourite format to present your work – film, presentation, lookbook?
I don’t really have a preference I think each collection can suit something different, at the moment I’ve only worked with look books and I will always have one - I think they’re a necessity, but this coming collection (SS16) I’m going to accompany it with a short fashion film. I would absolutely love to do presentations, but I think it will be a few seasons before I’m able to do that, though I’ve already made plans!