15 Nov Designer Interview: South African Designer, Leigh Schubert | Part One
Leigh Schubert is a down to earth “Durbanite”, who makes you feel like you have known her forever. She has been running and designing for her own label since 2002 and has recently started branching out internationally. Leigh is a mother, successful business owner and one of South Africa’s top fashion designers.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born in Durban & moved to Johannesburg in my early teens where I studied fashion at Parktown College. I always knew that I wanted to be a fashion designer, when I was a little girl, my Mom, who was very creative, would help me make clothes for my Barbie dolls and in in the process taught me how to sew. As soon as I completed my studies I moved back to Durban, where I have been ever since. I have 2 little girls who keep me quite busy, I also love food and wine and dinner parties with friends. I love to travel, it’s very inspiring to be in different places and see different people and cultures.
What does fashion mean to you?
I think for me fashion is not the beginning and end of life, although I do love clothes. I think it’s a great way to express your individuality, but it is not the only way. It’s also obviously important to me because it is my livelihood, but I don’t spend every waking moment thinking about it, although I naturally design in my head, it’s instinctive, but it is not as if I wake up in the morning and think I must wear this and I have to do that, it does not dictate my life, it just comes naturally.
How would you define your city’s fashion?
Durban is such a cultural hotspot, so we have very diverse styles. Durban has been the birthplace of many South African Designers, because I think in a way we are like a little “dorp” (village) that took a long time to be influenced by International trends and fashion in stores (even though we have caught up quite quickly now, thanks, information and fashion being so instantly accessible). I think that we have a culture of fashion and our people are fashionable, but it is very different and also different between the cultures, so there is not one specific “style”. This also makes it exciting, we have lots of different styles to look at and admire and I think that we are on trend in terms of the rest of the world, that said, there is a very strong culture of individual style and I think that is also a global thing where people are looking at themselves & what suits them and are more selective about what trends they follow as opposed to being slaves to them. Gone are the days where, for example, bellbottoms and platforms were in and whether you liked it or not it’s what you wore. I think in a way it makes it easier for a Designer because I can design for me and there will be people out there who buy it because they like my style and not simply because I am on trend.
What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
I was about 13 or 14 and back then there was the Fair Lady South African Fashion Awards. I read the brief in the magazine and even though I was far too young I wanted to enter. At the time the big movie was Robyn Hood, which was velvets and jewels, so I designed a purple velvet Robyn Hood style outfit, which was very badly drawn and quite pathetic, but I was really into it and strongly believed that I was worthy of an entry. Years later I did enter the same competition, it was the first competition I entered and actually ended up winning something.
What are some of your accomplishments as a designer?
When I was working in the corporate industry I always entered competitions to keep myself creatively sane. I competed in the Fair Lady Fashion Awards twice and was runner-up both times as the best young designer, I then went on to win the “Readers Choice Award” the same year, In 2006 I received the citation for best emerging South African designer at the Marie Claire Prix de Excellence Awards. My most important one was winning the Invited Designer category at the Durban Designer Collections, that kind of made me go on my own. I’ve also done a lot of Fashion Weeks, I’ve done the Australian Fashion week twice (2009 & 2010) where I was the only South African Designer. From there I was handpicked to take part in an installation show with 9 other Australian Designers, one of which was Akira Isogawa, who is like a National Treasure in Australia, so being able to show at the same show as he was incredible. I am blessed to have been able to do some pretty amazing things and people have liked my designs, which have enabled me to build a brand and do what I love.Look out for the rest of Leigh Schubert’s interview next week!
Find out more about Leigh Schubert by visiting her website at www.leighschubert.co.za
Leigh’s designs are available countrywide in South Africa and in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico & Panama at the following outlets:
CATWALK – WASHINGTON JAZZY COUTURE - ILLINOIS SIMPATICO – ILLINOIS LILLY’S BOUTIQUE GALLERY – INDIANA CALICO CAT - TEXAS HOLLY HILL – CALIFORNIA SATORI DESIGNS – CARLSBAD CALIFORNIA THE FASHION EVENT – CANADA URBAN COLORS – CANADA CINDY CARDONA – PUERTO RICO COCO’S – PANAMA