South Wales, UK
We went on IG Live with Rosie Evans, an upcoming designer based in South Wales! We chatted about her corset designs, sustainability, fast fashion, and plenty more! Check out the interview on our IGTV / Youtube (above). Read all about Rosie below!
We'll start off with who you are, what do you do, and where you're from:
I'm Rosie. I run the brand Rosie Evans on Instagram and I'm from South Wales and the UK.
What got you into fashion? I noticed on your Instagram, you specifically work with corsets. How did that come about too?
I've always liked fashion. I used to do it at school like after school activities, but in South Wales, it's not really like a big thing. There's no fashion brands or anything in South Wales. So, I studied it at school. I wasn't very good at anything else. I went to university in Bristol and after that, it just kind of came from me wanting to carry on after graduating. Corsets came because, in my graduation collection, I was doing it about underwear and historical underwear. I never really did any corsets, but I wanted to, but I just ended up getting a side-swept into other things. And then afterward I was like, 'this is something I want to carry on doing'. I just sort of did it as a personal project and enjoyed it. And then it kind of blew up from that.
That was a big question of mine too. I know for a lot of artists, especially myself, where the areas around you that you grew up really influence you as an artist. So for you, growing up in the UK in general and where you were, how did that affect you as an artist, and did it influence your work and your process at all?
Definitely. I think I've always lived in Wales, apart from living in other cities, but it's always been my home and I think it's got a really strong cultural and historical identity that I think gets diminished by the rest of the UK a lot. It's sort of seen as like the country's not very economically viable. There's a lot of poverty, there's a lot of lack of access to education, especially artistic education, even though the country does try a lot to encourage people. And I think that not having the access immediately to things makes you more like.. You get it when you get it, you grab onto it and you fight a lot harder to get it, which I know places and cultures have that as well. So I think it's that kind of struggle to get into that scene.
Yeah. And you said that it's specifically in South Wales, it's not a super artistic scene, so you kind of had to get into that yourself?
Yeah. It's changing now, especially recently that so many other Wales creators and other Wales designers, which is crazy cause I didn't know there were any. But growing up there just was not many community-based things, I did a few afterschool activities and clubs, but they weren't really established and they didn't grow amazingly, but now it's changing and I met some really amazing people in Wales. But that's sort of the thing of being from a small town of and like 'I want to get out of here and move to the big city' and I was like, no, I like Wales.
That's the position that I was in. I'm based close to New York and my hometown wasn't necessarily artistic, but you find that niche and you stick with it. So I'm glad that you did that. Did you have any inspirations personally that have impacted you? Maybe not only as a person but also as an artist?
Definitely, sustainability and ecological issues. My family has always been really hot on ecological issues and recycling and not being wasteful and trying to save energy. My dad used to work and part of his job was going and teaching kids about sustainability. So it was always a big impact on my life. And I think going into fashion, I sort of saw that and not everyone actually realizes that this is a big issue. They kind of don't pay attention to it. So that was what the brand is, as well as trying to battle attitudes around sustainability, especially now when it's become such a buzzword. I think trying to battle the (fact that) there's more at work. And for me especially, it's about being sustainable in all aspects of my life and the brand. Historical stuff, as well, has been really important to me and poetry, a lot of Welsh poets. So Dylan Thomas is a poet I use as inspiration the most because he actually knew my family history. My great grandmother knew him.
I noticed that too. With corsets, do you take a lot from older historical figures and older time periods? Is that one of your inspirations behind doing them in general?
I think so. I think corsets got a really bad rep of just being like completely restrictive and you can't do anything and you can't breathe and all these women were like so stupid, and they're going to pass out. But actually, when you think about it, the queen wore them, and also the servants wore them. They were a garment, but also (with) very interesting stories attached to a lot of them. I just really love historical fashion. I think it's a really interesting thing that we think of it just in the past, but actually all of our garments are inspired by them today.
As I was going through your work, as such a historical clothing piece, you've brought this sense of modernity to it, which is interesting. That's something I love about fashion is seeing the pieces that people make. And I do respect that about you and you had said sustainability is big for you. So can you talk on sustainability within your clothing? Your family and everything was into it as you grew up, your fabric and stuff, are they recycled? How do you end up getting your pieces? And how did you get into wanting to do that with your clothing?
In the brand, I'm trying to be as sustainable as possible. Obviously that's kind of hard when you are creating something because you are still putting something out into the world that didn't really need to be there, but I'm trying to combat that by only using secondhand or deadstock fabric. So it's fabrics that would have gone to landfills to try and save it from going to waste. All my boning, which is what goes into the corsets to give them structure all comes from the fruit market, (how they carry all the big crates of fruit). There's a really nice guy who puts it all in a plastic bag for me and I come and pick it up and put them into corsets. I don't think he understands what I do, but that's quite nice. Lace, I buy a lot of vintage laces to try and stop that. The only thing is metal, like islets and components, they're a bit harder because of the energy to recycle them. I've got to think about like, 'not everything recycled is always better for the environment', if you know what I mean? It's just trying to not produce more or use any virgin materials. I think there's a real buzzword with sustainable fashion, which "organic" fabrics and like 'it's great for the environment. It does no environmental impact'. Yeah, but you're still producing something and you're still sending fabric to waste. And it doesn't really use a penny thing that's already there. There's so much fabric in the world that just goes to waste. It's better to use that than try and produce the most ecologically friendly fabric in the world.
That's really cool. I didn't even realize that, but that's interesting because a lot of the stuff that you might pass and never think that would be used in clothing can be used in clothing. I know you see a lot of high fashion brands that are trying to take on more ecological and sustainable brands and fabrics and uses but it's a big struggle within today. So what is your take on that with your own day to day life, your clothing, and that you might not even make yourself?
Yeah, so I've tried to do that thing of separating myself from fast fashion and I think part of it was a change in how I viewed myself and body. I don't want to put things on clothes on my body that I don't feel comfortable then. And a lot of that was turning away certain fabrics that were giving me eczema and certain textiles, like acrylic, I couldn't wear them anymore. I sort of tried to turn away from that and buy secondhand clothing or by independent designers or sustainable clothing, which I know is quite a privileged thing to do. But also part of it was looking at the number of clothes. Primark, it's a massive thing in the UK. A huge department stores with three levels, even in the tiny stores and they did a sustainable line, which was all organic t-shirts and all organic cotton and denim. And they were all the same price as their normal stuff and people were like 'how can you have a sustainable line, like the t-shirts are the three pounds, you can't buy sustainable cotton for that level'. And it was because they were exploiting their workers more. And I think one of the things with fast fashion, with my brand as well, is sustainability doesn't just mean ecological points. It's also ethical and global issues. I don't think you can have a sustainable brand, even if you're making no environmental impact. If you're not paying your workers enough or treating them right or if you're using sweatshops, that's not a sustainable brand because you're negatively impacting someone's environment, even if it's not your direct environment. So that was kind of one of the things. And I think it is quite hard with fast fashion cause when growing up, I didn't have enough money to go to the big expensive shops or buy independent, I would shop at Primark cause that was all I had. But I think growing up now I'm like 'maybe I don't need to buy as much' and have a better relationship with my body and my clothes as opposed to mass buying what I can to try and see if that would help.
I had watched this mini-doc on Netflix that spoke on fast fashion. It was interesting because there was actually a statistic that came out that said if a person buys 67 t-shirts or whatever in our closet that they reuse throughout the year, if they recycled through those garments, the amount of fast fashion and problems that we have with burning extra clothing and stuff like that would go down immensely. I think subconsciously I don't even realize that I do it, which leads to another question for you as well. I got into thrifting a few years ago, not so much because of the trend, but more so I came into my own individually and fashionably. Now with all of these ecological and sustainable issues, I feel more comfortable thrifting out because they are well-produced items sometimes and I've kept a lot of the garments for a few years. So for yourself, are you a thrifter? Do you end up going and getting secondhand clothing?
That's one thing about my town. We don't have thrift stores. We have charity shops and it's such a small town, but that was a big thing growing up as well. I was quite ill when I was 11. As a teenager, I couldn't do like going to town on the weekend to go shopping. I'd go to the charity shop and it does make you change the way you see clothes because you're like, 'Oh, well I can get a really nice dress. That's actually quite well-made that like someone's loved and isn't in good condition for the same price I could get quite cheaply made one online or somewhere else'. So that was a big thing. Also, I had such a bad eBay problem for a while because I'd be like, 'Oh, I can buy a really nice designer dress for maybe 20 quid on eBay' compared to spending it on something not as good somewhere else. But even with that, I try and I go into a bit of a phase of buying something off eBay really cheap, like a good quality item, but it would be really cheap and it had so much stuff and it's good because I'm giving money to people who were trying to sell clothes online or giving money to charity. But also, I'm spending a lot of money and hoarding clothes, which I don't really need. And then I ended up throwing them all out back to charity and the cycle starts again. So I think a big thing with secondhand-clothes-buying was, rather than this constant turnover or all of us buying secondhand clothes and it constantly going back and forward. I think trying to enjoy what I've got makes me feel a lot better. And one of the nice things about being able to make clothes is I can go and 'well I'm going to make a dress for myself today'. A nice activity to do. And then I got a new dress without having to purchase or get into that consumerism of 'Oh, I spent money'. So it feels good. That is kind of good in another way.
So you were saying how you make your own clothing as well. What is your creative process when it comes to conceptualizing your pieces and completing a project of yours?
It's not rushed, I just think I'd like to see the end result quite quickly, which is kind of good. I'm not very much of a perfectionist. I'm quite happy to make something quite quickly and then enjoy it at the end of it. Because I use secondhand materials that inform quite a lot of it as well. Because it's like, I bought this vintage table cloth, what am I going to do with it? What's the best use of the design of the fabric? Is it going to work in this like cut or not because some fabrics don't quite work? Some of the corsets fabrics that I've made haven't worked out because the fabric can't really stand it. A lot of it I buy off eBay, so I don't even know what it feels until I get it, but that was exciting as well because then you can be like, 'Oh, what else can I make with it?' What else can I do? A lot of it is finding materials or thinking of a vague idea and then doing it. I quite like to add things on at the end or be quite free with how I design things rather than planning too much. But when I'm doing a collection, that's when I think like, 'okay, well what's the general mood, what can I imagine for this?' And then I do the sourcing of fabrics, which changes that a lot as well, because I'll have an idea for a coat, but then I find this perfect material and then it comes on like, 'Oh actually this would be better as a jumper, we don't need that, which is kind of how I've always done it at uni as well. It really annoyed my tutors because I'd be like, 'Nope, not gonna do that. I'm going to do something completely different now'. But I find it quite nice because it's kind of a bit more artistic in that way because you're not limiting yourself. You're not too far from it in on an idea. You can have a bit more freedom.
Absolutely. So how has quarantine affected you? Personally artistically, whatever it is?
The beginning was so scary. It was kind of crazy. I definitely had coronavirus right at the beginning, cause I was really ill for a little while. It was really scary cause I've had health issues in the past, so luckily I was fine and got over it really quickly, but it could have got a lot worse and I've got friends who have autoimmune issues or disabilities, which mean I just haven't seen them all summer and they've not been to leave, which is really scary, but I've been really lucky in that I can work forever. I've got a table in my bedroom and my career is done a lot better. I think because so many more people are turning to the internet and turning to Instagram and stuff for their entertainment, I think I've been really lucky in that it's benefited me in a way, but also, it has been kind of weird just a summer indoors.
I can imagine, but that's definitely true. I think quarantine has been interesting and the fact that it's really put social media on the front lines of what can we actually do with technology. That's gotta be something that has to be interesting for you is to see how when we all went online, the engagement that you got in regards to your social media presence was more of a positive perspective.
It's been really nice cause I've had friends who've launched brands and I've been able to work with more people remotely that maybe wouldn't have contacted me before because we wouldn't have met in person or something like that. Whereas now, it's like you can make connections with people over the internet and it's not weird because you've got to do that because you shouldn't be making them in person. It's been kind of up and down a lot, but I think it's good for my career, kind of difficult for life stuff, but that's okay. It's not been too bad and I really appreciate how lucky I've been.
In regards to where you are, when we are outside of lockdown and roles are less strict, what is next for you? Have you set any goals for yourself in the future that you hope to accomplish or are currently in the process of working on?
Yeah, I've got my winter collection I'm working on at the moment. Really hoping to get that out soon and be able to shoot with that. In Wales, the rules are kind of relaxing a bit because we've been okay with not having any sudden second waves at the moment. And they're hoping that I can get that done and out into the world soon. Should be really good. And then I've got some opportunities and new stockists and trying to move it to more in real-life locations and more stockists where people would come in and wear them and yeah, grow a bit more and have a bit more of stability with scheduling. Cause I'm the worst at planning things. So a bit that because otherwise it just goes nightmare.
In regards to your products and such for people to find, do you have a website? Do you like getting contacted on Instagram? Are you someone who just puts out products? Do you take requests? How can people get ahold of you and get a hold of your products?
Yeah, for sure. Um, and then in regards to your products and such for people to find, do you have a website, do you like getting contacted on Instagram? Are you someone who just puts out products? Do you take requests? Like how can people get ahold of you and get a hold of your products? Yeah. So I'm currently stocked to a 50m, which is a London concept store. And then I've just been stocked with Mall NYC, which is a New York online shop. I try and do a sale once a month with one-off pieces or made to measure items. And occasionally, I take commissions, but it's a rolling basis of like, I can take on this money commissions a month and sometimes I'm reached out to. It's kind of the best way to message me on email or through my website because I'm a bit slow at responding to stuff, but I will get to you.
Don't forget to check out Rosie Evans on Instagram and shop here!