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In Conversation - SIDELINE's Ellen Brookes

In Conversation - SIDELINE's Ellen Brookes

Thoughtful design and subtle, understated detail are at the core of British contemporary womenswear label SIDELINE. Every collection is designed by founder Ellen Brookes at the SIDELINE studio on England’s south coast. We are lucky enough to stock selected pieces from their new Spring Summer range together as part of our wider womenswear offer. We sat down with Ellen after the drop of her new spring collection to chat about the South Downs, sustainable practices and appreciating the smaller details in life.

 

When did you start SIDELINE and what was the thinking behind the label?

I've always worked in design but before Sideline I’d only ever worked for other brands and retailers. I wanted to do something that was just for me - beginning to end. And I also felt like there was a bit of a gap in the market, for what I had in mind. It started off as all Indigo based, using the concept of a five-pocket pair of jeans and how they form a core part of your wardrobe. I wanted to see if there could be more garments like that which would be able to work with lots of different ways of living. That was the initial concept, and it's grown from there. But I always try and go back to that sense of wearability and function. So, although I try to make things feel special and elevated and different, they’re still things you can wear every day and build your wardrobe around.

How do you start building a collection?

I find that I'm really influenced by my setting, so living in the South Downs has had a massive impact on me, especially since I’m a runner. When I'm out the Downs or by the River Ouse I can really feel the rhythm of the seasons. On a more practical note, I always start with fabric. It’s very important to me that I use nice quality bases. I don't use any synthetic fabrics. And I always use embroidery as well which is something that's become part of the identity of the brand and gives me a little bit of a point of difference with my competitors. When I then start designing, I’m always thinking about the lifestyle of my friends and I, and the kind of clothes that will fit with our lives rather than trying to fit our lives into the clothes

Why are sustainable practices important to you?

I struggle with that a bit, actually. Because really, the world doesn’t need another clothing brand. But if I’m going to make and sell clothes to people, the main thing for me on the sustainability front is making things that people will love for a long time. I try to stay away from anything that feels too faddy or that people will bore of. I want people to feel good in the clothes and to really make a difference to their lives in the long run. And as a small brand my stock isn’t huge. I can sell out quickly which I know can be frustrating for my customers but for me the worst thing would be to be overstocked and have piles of clothing that I would have to then get rid of cheaply and wastefully.

What is the most exciting thing about what you do?

Well, I work on my own a lot. So, when it comes to putting the photoshoot together for the lookbook it’s amazing to get to work with a team. Seeing my vision, sketches and looks come together with great people working around me is a lot of fun. A garment just hanging there is never that exciting. It's when it's put together on a model in a location: that’s when things get super exciting. I also love hearing people’s feedback, telling me that they feel good in the garments. I get lots of people stopping me and asking me where my clothes are from when I’m wearing one of my designs. Yeah, I get a real kick out of that. 

Why do you think some Folk and Sideline complement each other well?

I think that there's a lot of the same concepts or ideas behind both brands. There's a different look, so we probably don't compete that much. But in terms of what we believe in, I think that there are quite a lot of crossovers. I’ve always liked Folk; I knew them first as a menswear brand I love that they have (and I try to do this as well) special details that you discover in the garment. It’s very flattering being stocked in such a lovely store.

 

What’s coming up next for Sideline?

Well, it's actually quite exciting - next year will be the 10th birthday of Sideline. I'm going to do a special 10 year collection where I’ll look back over the years and re do some of my best pieces. There are a couple of garments that have become a little bit, I mean this might sound a bit weird to say but, iconic. I have people ask me a lot about the Matilda Jacket from my first collection, which was named after my eldest daughter so I’d really like to revisit that. I'd also love to have a party in my new studio to celebrate the 10 years. Everyone works really hard so it's important to celebrate these milestones when they come around.

Couldn’t agree more! We’ll take that as an invitation...

Head here find out more about SIDELINE and Ellen’s work

Or like anything you see? Shop Folk’s SIDELINE stock

 

Words by Elsa Pearl

Images by Alex Catt, Polly Hanrahan and Lola Thomas

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