Designer Profile: Karoline Beigley

Editorial Note: This month, in advance of NYFW and World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept 10, 2020, and in conjunction with Mikeysline in the Scottish Highlands, FWO is featuring outstanding young designers with a focus on mental health and wellness.

Karoline Beigley

I was born in South Africa but grew up in the Scottish Highlands. I studied hard and got into university for mathematics, but after a year and a half I realised it just wasn’t the right route for me, so I took a hard-right turn into fashion. I started an HND in textile design and got the chance to learn from the amazing MairiB, who taught me a lot about corsetry and historical costuming and helped build my confidence to sew. Now that I have completed my course I am branching out on my own.

Since discovering this “passion for fashion” I have been able to meet with local artists of various kinds and had the opportunity to support and contribute to multi-disciplinary projects, from burlesque performers to shows in the Edinburgh Horror Festival. I was inspired to look at historical clothing for silhouettes, to see how they are achieved, and the different construction methods involved.

Karoline Beigley

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Photos: Ducky Timcke (QuackhouseAnimations); Drawings and Modelling: by Karoline Beigley

Since entering the competition, I picked up a commission for a lady overseas and a new client has gotten in touch for bespoke clothing. I realise that I am still very early on in my journey, and I know there is still so much for me to learn, but I want to explore more eco-friendly materials and techniques and work towards a sustainable, zero-waste. I am very excited for all the opportunities that will come my way that will allow me to grow not only my creativity, but myself too.

Q: What sparked your interest in fashion?

Honestly, I was bored of what everyone was wearing. Growing up I noticed that there was very little variety and individuality in what people were wearing – it was just so uninteresting, and in a medium that can be used so expressively, it just seemed like a waste. You can express yourself with what you wear, you can be loud without even making a sound, you can wear your clothes as armour to take on the world, or a sword to show everyone you have arrived. Whether you prefer subtle touches or bold silhouettes, there is so much that can be done to show who you are as an individual. Despite this, it just seems like everyone wants to look the same, and I didn’t want that – I didn’t fit in anyway, so why not explore?

A lot of the clothes that I was drawn to were often represented in art and comics and books, so didn’t actually exist in reality, and anything similar was way out of my teenage budget and were only available online or overseas. The high-street stores seemed to only feed the uniformity that people had settled into, so I decided I needed to learn to sew and create the clothes I loved. Ultimately, what I found most interesting about fashion was the way it can affect people. I knew what clothing did for me and my sense of self expression and I want to bring that to others.

Q: As a designer, what matters to you most?

On a large scale: I care about the environment and working to ensure that I act sustainably and ethically. I try to avoid synthetics and research a supplier before I buy as much as possible. On a smaller scale: I want the individuals who wear my clothes to feel comfortable and be able to express themselves in a way they may never have thought they could. I want to change the idea that there is one shape that suits this, and one idea that suits that; each person has their own shape and their own personality, and clothes that fit will always look and feel better than clothes that don’t – if it fits, it suits, and you are beautiful.

Q: Who do you envision as your “core customer?”

I see my core customer as someone who wants to be exactly who they are, even if they haven’t figured out exactly who that is yet. Perhaps they struggle to express themselves, or feel unrepresented in the fashion industry, or maybe in need of a new outlet to find the freedom to be whatever they want. No matter what you do or who you are, everyone wears clothes at some point in their lives and I want to help people find who they are through their clothing and feel confident in what they are wearing and who they are. I want to support those who are unsure of themselves and want to explore and discover their identities and forms of expression that give them happiness and comfort. I want to tailor to those who don’t necessarily fit into the high-street fashion currently available.

Q: What is your vision for the future?

I would like to learn and bring back bespoke tailoring, and make it available for everyone, so that they have clothes that are specifically theirs, and have them accessible to all, not just the financial elite. I would like to find a way to make good quality clothing accessible and affordable, get rid of this throw-away mentality and mass production. Ideally, I would love if I could never make the same garment twice, similar yes, but not the same, as I don’t believe that racks of the same item should be the norm.


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