In 2011, the same year as her graduation from Central Saint Martins, Phoebe English broke into the fashion industry with the start of her namesake label. At the time, the shocking yet intriguing combination of hair and rubber in her final master’s collection caught the attention of Rose Easton. What began as a customer-designer relationship flourished into a successful creative collaboration between English and Easton, who is now the brand’s creative director. It was with their collaborative minds that the brand gained the recognition and approval it has today.

Phoebe English’s uniqueness stems from the core value of construction. Every piece exhibits an intense thoughtfulness, apparent in the intricate details and precision of the handwork. The clothes express an unusual sense of naivety and rawness through a continual emphasis on texture and layering. The styles are born from dark inspirations and impulsiveness, yet they’re poetic and intimate. The design process is reminiscent of past generations and alludes to the history of British craft. All of the clothes are proudly made in England and fabrics are primarily sourced from within the UK. There is something luxurious about the brand’s slowness in contrast to the almost thoughtlessness of fast fashion. With each season and every new collection Phoebe English continues to build and develop its personality, exploring new possibilities and pushing boundaries.

Designer

Phoebe English

Origin

UK

Homebase

London

Type of brand

Womenswear and menswear

Where we can find you?

Deptford

What do you consider the most important elements of design?

Feel, proportion and finish

Describe your design process

We make several toiles, fit them, alter them, remake the toiles, refit them, alter them again – this repeats until the design is complete.

Where did your admiration and respect for technique come from? Was there a specific point in your design career when you realised construction was particularly important to you?

Yes, there was. It was when I finished my knitwear degree. Despite the fact I wanted to move away from making knitted surfaces, I realised that I wanted to keep the focus of construction you have when you’re designing knitwear.

Describe the brand aesthetic in three words

Quiet, detailed, personal

Who is your ideal customer?

My ideal customer is a mature woman but also her daughter. The label has to work across generations or I have not succeeded. That is the definition of good design, it has to work across time.

Where do you draw inspiration?

From the men around me

What does your brand say about London fashion?

I suppose it says that anything is possible in this city – there aren’t any barriers.

You moved your studio from East London to South London. How do the fashion scenes differ in the two areas?

It is so, so, so different! Absolutely, totally different – much more raw and wildly expressive. South London is like how East London was when I first moved to London aged 19. It’s so refreshing to be around that energy again. East London has changed a lot.

Where do you go for inspiration in London?

When I’m in Deptford all I need to do is walk out of the front door and I’m instantly surrounded by the most amazing people on the streets. There are some wild looks – it’s really fantastic!

Your label started exclusively as a womenswear line, however, it does not conform to standard notions of femininity. How do you think it contributes to the the construction of femininity and the portrayal of gender?

I’m never quite sure how to reply to this question. I guess it’s my own vision of femininity. I wasn’t aware that it was different until I started being interviewed. Most of the women I’m surrounded by like to dress like this.

You’ve recently broken into menswear. Why did you decide to expand the label?

Menswear was a random thing I woke up one day and decided to try. I’m lucky it’s worked out so well for us so far.

Global Young Designer Spotlight:

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