Here at Vintage Norwich we’re always looking for a brilliant new talent with a quirky or vintage twist. Whilst perusing the very lovely Most Curious Wedding Fair we were introduced to Sophie Collins and her beautiful and original garters. With my own upcoming nuptials a mere month away, I fell in love with one of the garters, snapped it up in a flash and chatted about her wedding dress designs. We caught up with Sophie after the show to find out a little more about her and her business.
- Tell us who you are and what you do?
- What inspired you to start your business?
I started the business earlier this year, after going into employment straight after university. I wasn’t happy with the position and company I was in and missed design SO much! However there weren’t any designing jobs available in Norwich, they are too few and far between considering Norwich used to be a manufacturing hub for fashion and accessories!
As well as this I have always wanted my own business so I decided that it was the ideal time to start up, and to channel my creativity into something which meant so much to me!
I have always loved Wedding dresses. I believe it’s the muted colour palettes and subtle detail which draws me to it, although anyone who knows me would probably say its the drama of the occasion. The garters which I design were a secondary aspect to my passion, it’s THE oldest wedding tradition; before white dresses there were garters and to me it seems sinful that a bride would take the knowledge of this tradition and buy a cheap tacky garter that is one of one million! What I do with the garter’s is take beautiful materials all of which have not had their chance to shine and create something special.
- Where do you get your inspiration?
I always get asked this and it’s so hard to explain; I love historical dress, but my first love is fabric, the way it moves and reacts to other fabrics and different environments, but most of all I love manipulating it and creating something totally unique. The majority of the time the design starts with the fabric or I’ll have a general idea on silhouette but it won’t breathe life until the main fabric is discovered.
I am a firm believer of Coco Chanel’s philosophy of removing one accessory before you leave the house. I do the same with design it’s so easy with the way in which I design to get carried away, you should always take a step back and reconsider.
With the garters the Lace inspires me, Anyone who has seen me at a wedding fair knows I have a hoard of trinkets for brides to add to their garter to make it more unique and more personal to them. I mix and match a few but try not to get too involved as I want each bride to take home a couture garter, something which was tailored to suit them.
- Which is your favourite Garter?
My favourite garter is one I haven’t made yet, it’s mine. It’s simple but complex just like me, and I know when by fiancé sees it he wouldn’t of expected anything less!!
Second favourite is the Antique Lace and China brooch Garter, it is just gorgeous and I’m so surprised it hasn’t gone yet, so quickly ladies!!
- What was the first thing you ever designed?
I have been designing ever since I can remember, but the first thing I constructed was for a school project, it was a recycled outfit made out of acid bright carrier bags complete with a newspaper feather boa no less! How embarrassing! Although I did get an A*.
- How long does it usually take you to construct a piece?
I can make quite a few garters in a day once I get going, however the beaded detailed ones obviously take a bit longer. For the wedding dresses, I can construct a dress in as little as a week, although I wouldn’t recommend this to any bride!!
- Where do you buy your fabrics and other sewing materials?
The majority of the garters are made out of Vintage Nottingham lace which I was lucky enough to come across a large amount of it. It’s been sitting around being unloved for too long, which is why it gives me so much pleasure to turn it into things that will be loved and remembered for years to come. I pick up other bits from rummaging in antique shops and flea markets as well as going to the odd textile auction. Last time I was at an auction I picked up some Parachute silk, the very stuff women used to make their wedding gowns out of during the war! It’s amazing… I was going to make garters out of it but haven’t got round to it yet; so if anyone wants a wedding gown made out of a genuine vintage fabric get in touch! When it’s gone, it’s gone!
- What do you believe makes a quality article of clothing?
We are all guilty of the 21st century attitude to disposable fashion, but quality articles of clothing are things that last and vintage fashion is a prime example of that. Clothing which has been lovingly made by an individual cutting a pattern by hand and working with each garment to achieve a finished product.
The digitalisation of the fashion industry is a fairly recent thing, and it’s our fault as consumers who want things cheaper and cheaper which has pushed the manufacturing process overseas, which in turn has led to poor workmanship and bad a use of cheap materials.
Fashion isn’t style, and it is style which will always come out on top. There is a computer programme now to determine how a fabric will drape, how impersonal and unimaginative is that! Love, care and creativity is what makes fashion so inspiring and I am honoured to be able to use my skills to create quality garments.
- If you were to give one piece of advice to someone looking to start a business in fashion and design, what would it be?
Follow your heart, it’s not an easy journey but as long as you stay true to your dream and your passion, fingers crossed that you will be successful. I couldn’t of done any of this without my fiancé he has been an absolute rock and he has given me the support, financially, emotionally and physically throughout.
- Where is your favourite place to shop in Norwich?
I love a good look in Aladdin’s cave, especially when the flea market is on. I have lived in Norwich all my life and I am still discovering little hidden shops which is so much fun!
- If someone was paying Norwich a weekend visit, what one place should they definitely go?
Although the city centre isn’t particularly large I would suggest just going for a walk, a lot of people visit Chapelfield and the main streets, but there is so much more to Norwich, like I said I’m still discovering places!! There is some amazing architecture about too in the Royal Arcade, the Castle and the Cathedral’s which is definitely worthy of a visit.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Oooo, I would love to still be doing what I’m doing, I really want to open a shop between now and then, and would love to be able to create job opportunities for other designers and passionate individuals who just like me love to be surrounded by beautiful things!
You can contact Sophie to view samples and discuss designs at: