Meet The Pragmatic Designer Sophie Hulme

“ I am always attracted by menswear – the utility and the toughness” Sophie Hulme says. In reality, it is not necessary for her to explain her penchant for simple, straight, masculine figures. Her designs speak for themselves.

Growing up in North London, Sophie describes herself as a tomboy with a love for street style. A love, she learnt to transform into art, at Kingston University. By the time she graduated in 2007, as well as her degree, Hulme also had a Student of the Year and Best Collection award under her sparkly, utility belt. The fashion world’s radar did not take long to pick her up. Within two months of graduating, Sophie Hulme had launched her own label.

Unlike most designers, Sophie was not as interested in the catwalks as she was in attracting the attention of buyers world wide. Knowing very well that what she had to offer was luxury, she tried to find the right, eclectic audience. A practical approach, perhaps more down to earth than would be expected from a young artist. But having found a niche, Sophie did not struggle to build the clientele she had hoped for. Her designs were now available in Europe, Asia, Australasia and America.

“I think this kind of style is missing across the market, even though women seem to desire it” says Hulme of the popularity her designs came across. She was right. Straight lined military coats emblazoned with sequins, bow adorned bomber jackets, sparkle graced utilitarian shoulder bags and thick leather belts breaking the monotonous shape of silk mini dresses, was not only what women desired, but also, as described by a little magazine called VOGUE ,‘What Editors really want to wear’. And Vogue was not the only fashion bible that believed in Sophie. In 2011, Elle named her one of their four BFC/ELLE Talent Launch Pad winners. Hulme’s classic subtlety and outrageous contradiction was not to be missed by anyone.

But Sophie is not one to repeat the try and tested, once successful recipe, until it grows old. Striving for longevity, she reveals something new and newly inspiring with every collection. “I took classic garments and reinvented them with new methods combining masculine and feminine influences like heavy men’s knitwear and decorative beading” she states and with that, anyone can notice the evolution of her designs. By now, Sophie has replaced sequins for beading, military for knitwear and tweed, bows for armour and pony skin, her ever present silk dresses have lost their leather belts and gained chunky knit panels. But the essence of her approach is still the same. She has always, successfully, brought together materials that don’t necessarily sit with each other naturally, kind of like a dating website for clothes. “Sophie has a clearly distinguished signature style which is all about understated elegance” Luise de Paule, My-Wardrobe’s buying and merchandise director, says.

Her feminine meet masculine style, has, in each collection, consisted of mainly outerwear, simple dresses, jumpers and accessories. Statement pieces. “The outerwear is very popular but I think the armoured tote bag has probably had the most attention – we keep re-running it.” Is her answer to what her trademark pieces are, highlighting the success of her minimalistic, boxy shaped, hardware detailed bag design that was sold out five times at Selfridges. “They just caught on straightaway,” she adds. “I’ve had people telling me how they’ve been chased down the street carrying their Sophie Hulme bag because people want to find out where it’s from.”

Despite the fact that her career is going from strength to strength, her bags have made fashion editors question ‘mulberry Who?’, her successful collaboration with ASOS.com has made her their best selling designer and fashion lovers across the world sing her praise, Sophie, insists that she doesn’t want to grow hugely. She wants each pieces to have the attention it needs and for all her creations to remain special.

“I have always been a massive collector of things. Robots, glitter balls, airfix planes, crockery and antique charms” she mentions when asked about her influences. That explains the birth of her label’s most recognized trademark. Her trinkets. Each year, Sophie creates a new gold plated trinket to accompany each garment or accessory being sold. Her hardcore followers have them all, the whistle, the lock, the knife and fork, the parachutist, the key…  In the end people who have followed her from the beginning will have a special, Hulme, necklace with a more personal sentiment and years of loyalty.

Like her designs, Sophie Hulme, is a perfect combination of harsh and soft, juxtaposition of textures, masculine and feminine. She is down to earth and pragmatic. She is attentive, creative, romantic.

For her best selling collection, visit Asos.com

Photos courtesy of London Fashion Week











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