Emerging fashion designer Laura Sedman has launched her own label to nurture effortless confidence in dress and in life. She talks to Stephanie Smith.
A log cabin in Pudsey might not seem the most obvious location for a fashion business, but it’s the HQ, design studio and factory premises for new Yorkshire label Laurelle Woman.
Laura Sedman is founder and owner of the brand, and the cabin was built by her father, Peter, in the garden of their family home, as a place where she and her twin sister, Jenna, could create and make while they were both studying fashion design.
Laura launched Laurelle Woman with a spring/summer collection in April, at the Fashion in Leeds weekend showcase which saw shipping containers recycled into catwalks in the middle of Briggate.
Now she has just launched her first autumn/winter 2017 collection, featuring designs characterised by easy, fluid silhouettes in luxurious, tactile textures and a palette of soft greys and deep, refined reds.
Laura specialises in unusual textural combinations, mixing cottons, chiffons, linens and faux furs. The plush faux fur used on some pieces is usually a fabric made into teddy bears. She takes inspiration from the catwalk – “I love Victoria Beckham for all her silhouettes,” she says – but also delights in creating her own signature details, for example, making cufflinks herself by buying the components online and printing out L and W to decorate them.
She learned her basic sewing and dress-making skills craft from her mother, Rose, a keen amateur seamstress, and from her grandmother.
After school at St Mary’s in Menston, she went to York College, where she achieved a first-class honours degree in Fashion Design in 2013. Then she began working for fashion companies voluntarily, including a Chinese-run wholesalers in Manchester, and got the chance to experience the company’s factory in China.
“I hated it to begin with, just being in China – I felt like an alien,” she says. “The actual factory itself, it wasn’t terrible. People talk about the conditions, but it was okay. It was more the hours that they worked, from 9am to midnight, but people were happy to do that. And people higher up in the company, they just lived to work, that was all that they did and some of them would sleep in the factory.
“I watched a man whose role was to press the garments. It took him seven seconds to iron a T-shirt. He did this repeatedly and I thought there must be more to life.
“It made me think, I don’t want to work for anyone else. I want to do it my way.”
So she began planning Laurelle Woman, launching this year at the age of 25. She designs, pattern cuts and makes each piece by hand, by herself, and also has a part-time job in retail to help with cash flow, but she is living and working according to her own rules and desires.
The aim of the brand is, she says, “to inspire women of all ages to believe in themselves and live for what makes them happy”.
“Too often we allow aspects of the modern world to make us feel inferior, whether it is comparing your life to someone else’s, or worrying we haven’t achieved enough.
“We need to start listening to the voice that says we want something, and stop listening to the one that says we can’t achieve it.”
Laurelle Woman, says Laura, is all about creating clothes that make women feel confident as they express their own personality and style.
“I don’t want to tell someone, this is how you should wear this, this is how you should look.”
Social media is an important part of the mix, and has helped Laura find models as well as customers.
In August, the autumn/winter collection shoot took place on a cloudy day at the beach in Scarborough, shot by Leeds-based photographer Matt McCormick and model Kayleigh Foster.
“I didn’t want it to look summery,” Laura says.
Prices are highly affordable, despite all the work that goes into the pieces (that tie-front shirt is a flattering, wearable, easy must-have), because Laura is still establishing the brand – so snap them up while you can still afford them.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” she says. “You have to keep reminding yourself why you are doing it in the first place – freedom in my work. You have to keep working for it.”
All pieces can be seen and bought at laurellewoman.com.