20 Nov DESIGNER INTERVIEW: SOUTH AFRICAN DESIGNER, LEIGH SCHUBERT | PART TWO
Last week we posted the first half of the interview with one of South Africa’s top fashion designers, Leigh Schubert. Designing and running her own label since 2002 she provides insight on some of the upcoming color trends as well as her personal preferences on patterns and prints.
What matters to you most as a fashion designer?
Humility. It is a notoriously competitive environment. I try to maintain a sense of humility and not sweat the small stuff, it’s your job and even though it can be seemingly glamorous, it’s not, so I try not to get affected by it all. I prefer my life and friendships separate from that. I am quite shy and don’t like the Media Rooms after a show, I suppose it is my fear of rejection that makes me afraid that I would walk in there and no-one wants to talk to me, so I would rather pack up my things and have drinks with friends. I like to fly under the radar and then if I get exposure I feel like I deserve it, I don’t go looking for it.
I love black, I would only design and wear black if I could, my little girl who is 5 is always horrified saying “Mom, are you wearing black again?!” I’ve learned to listen to my customers and my own signature style has evolved from that. My personal style is quite hard core, and my designs tend to have a combination of soft and hard, for example I love pleating, so hard lines in a very soft fabric. I don’t like “pretty”, although I do think my designs are very feminine, but I, myself am not feminine, I always have short hair and I don’t wear frilly dresses, I’d rather just wear a little black dress, understated, simple, classic.
Where do you get your inspiration?
It’s a difficult question, because I’m not philosophical about it, sometimes I will listen to other designers describe their inspirations in great detail and I never think about it that much, something will just come into my head or I will see something, fabric, a flower or earring or something that makes me think. I am inspired by a concept or a technique and then roll that out to make a range. I would say I am inspired more by a concept than an emotion.
How does color influence you/affect your design?
My own personal style I like neutrals and black, but I’m influenced by my customers and the fact that I am dressing a wide spectrum of women and I have to be respectful of what they want. I also look at international trends because I don’t want to be completely off the mark, so I try to balance out the color with neutrals. For me the most beautiful colors are the milky pinks, taupe and mocha’s, the more vintage looking colors. I am uncomfortable with bright colors, I like mustard and citrus. It’s very personal and I would love to have more control over my color because at the moment I am restricted by what is on offer, and I think that if I had a bigger selection on offer I would use color more in my own way, because I don’t think my color choice is necessarily commercial, but I do think people would like it in an exclusive designer context
What are your favorite colors, patterns & prints to work with?
I love lace and the look of it, even prints. Also solid graphic floral and placement printed designs, almost like a tattoo style print, for example a very sheer dress with lace in a way that almost looks like there is a tattoo on your body, again the soft and hard combination. I love stripes, particularly black & white; it’s one of my favorites. I also like animal prints, it’s a bit rock & roll and probably also has to do with my African roots, I think it’s a classic and can be worn with anything, like jeans.
What colors would you predict will be major influences in the upcoming SS2013 Season?
This summer there will be a lot of corals, peaches, mints and the blue-greens, quite crisp sorbet colors also neon’s are coming through strong and then quite crisp white bases around that. Overall very fresh, pretty and sharp.
To understand that it is not only about being a fashion designer, it’s about running a business and the best way to learn that is to work in a corporate environment, whether it be manufacturing or retail, so that you get a good foundation to build your business on, because there is a lot of things they don’t teach you at Tech and you can be as creative as you like, but you need to understand how to run a business and make it viable and sustainable. Spend time in a company and learn as much as you can, whilst doing creative things on the side so that you don’t lose your passion for it, whether it’s competitions or making your own clothes on weekends, just keep going and when you are ready you can use what you learn on a micro scale for your own business. Remember that you are not just here to make pretty clothes; you want to be able to earn a living on it. It also makes you a better designer when you realize that it is not just about you, you need a market so it is important to understand what your customer wants, and if you get it right and people are wearing your garments it’s the biggest compliment.
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