ARTICLE SONNY GROO
PHOTOGRAPHY WIKKIE HERMKENS
STYLIST SONNY GROO
AFTER STUDYING AT THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART, SHE DECIDED TO LAUNCH HER OWN LABEL IN 2010. NOW, ONLY TWO YEARS LATER, SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THREE COLLECTIONS A SEASON (MENS, WOMENS, AND HER LATEST ADDITION, SWIMWEAR). SHE IS KATIE EARY, A TRUE RARE-BIRD IN THE CURRENT LONDON SCENE, AND WITH SUPPORT FROM FASHION-FAVORITES KANYE WEST AND RIHANNA, THE NEW YEAR WILL HAVE MANY PROJECTS WAITING FOR HER TO REVEAL
Sonny Groo sat down with Katie Eary to discuss her latest collection, her personal life and of course, the future.
Thank you Katie for making time in between you crazy schedule. How mad is everything right now?
KE I don't really know where to begin [laughs], it's been a roller coaster ride since the show, but all I can say is that things are going quite well.
How is it to be one of the very few female designers doing menswear?
KE To be really honest I often deal with a lot of arrogance and competition, especially because of the way I dress. Most men expect someone who has a more edgy and masculine tone, as my collection shows, however I love Céline [points at her shoes], high-heels and anything feminine—which makes it hard for certain men to figure out what kind of woman they're dealing with.
I mean, when you look at my collection you may think you'll be meeting some crazy Japanese person [laughs] and then I walk in very feminine, in something super tight with high, high heels. The same happens when meeting a variety of women, often they don't want to take me serious or again have no clue how to read me. Strong women on the other hand are always lovely, they seem to like another woman with a drive and opinion and mostly don't feel threatened by me, for whatever reason that could be [laughs].
Your latest collection included menswear, womenswear, swimwear and even skateboards. Can you tell me a bit more about your team?
KE I have around 15 people on board at the moment, the team has been growing a lot these past couple of months, but luckily it's all in a good way. The skateboards are something I had in mind and wanted to try; I however never expected for them to sell so well. America is obsessed, especially in California we have sold mad amounts.
Tell me about Kanye.
KE Well, if you ever go to one of his concerts, his crowd may be one of the best dressed audiences you have ever seen. Kanye is helping me out on many different levels and because of him his crowd is opening up to the brand and opportunities team up.
How did it all start?
KE It was in 2009 or 2010, right after the skeleton show, when I received an email saying 'Hi, it's Kanye. I really loved your show," and I of course thought it was a joke from one of my friends and so I replied with a sarcastic email, then when I received a really friendly email back again going into his love for fashion, I realized it actually was him. We ended up meeting the following season and last summer, when he rang me. I was insanely busy at the moment, trying to get any funding or support financially to produce the collection and work on the next. As you know, I don't have any support from anyone really in London, as many other designers have through BFC. We were chatting, and I just said 'I hope you are calling me to offer me a job?' and he responded with a 'yes,' and I said his timing was perfect and he literarily was my saving grace.
Tell me about the womenswear. When did that came to the picture?
KE I always wanted to do womenswear, but it's more expensive to produce and you really need the perfect team. I wanted to work with the best manufacturers, etc, etc. With swimwear you have to make sure every single detail is spot-on and timing is crucial. I'm guessing I wanted to wait for the best, which luckily happened sooner then I was expecting.
How about shoes?
KE I really want to get into shoes, as I'm a big sucker for great ones, for example with Giuseppe Zanotti. For men, I would love to do trainers, but again you have to wait for the perfect team, there's so much competition out there, you have to nail it.
What can we expect in the future?
KE Literally I think three collections at least, one for men, one for women and one swimwear. Since the swimwear season is always a bit off, the show will probably be taking place off schedule, but the others will continue on the catwalk during fashion week. Something really exciting that will be emerging soon is a big e-commerce, as in an online Katie Eary shop. The idea for the online store is to really create the ultimate online shopping experience. Since Rihanna has worn one of the t-shirts, the requests come in on a daily basis; also, since we aren't selling all over the world yet, with the online store we can step up to the test and give the fans what they want. Something that is really exciting are the packages [laughs]. I have so many crazy ideas on the way to surprise and excite people when receiving their deliveries.
Does this mean your prices will be going up them as well?
KE To be honest, they already did, a little bit though, and only for the better. In the end, everything has to be and feel really special, so hopefully we get all sorted this Fall and are ready for the craziness to arrive before Christmas!
Were you always this cheerful and energetic when growing up?
KE As a child, I was a true tomboy, as well a complete weirdo [laughs], very quiet and, well, more interested in climbing trees. In my opinion, I have always been very fashion forward, wearing all kinds of weird and wonderful things and feeling really cool about myself, however most of the kids at my school didn't really agree [laughs]. In the mirror, I was seeing someone cool and would never understand why they didn't get it.
I grew up in Stevenage, which is a bit of a rough area (the over spill of north London). My mum used to make a lot of my clothes, lots of shirts and shorts in many textures and prints, much to my horror, but we were poor. Perhaps you could call it a print overload, which I at that time really liked. On the other hand, she could also drive me crazy when something would be way too intense and I didn't want to wear it.
At the age of 18 I finally went to college and met people who were just like me. The only subject i enjoyed at school was Art. I was and somewhat still am, very easily distracted. College taught me to be myself. When looking back, it was a very important time. I love a challenge, and I think with fashion I found my match.
How different is the designer Katie from the Katie who's not working?
KE There is no difference at all; I work hard and party harder. I'm always laughing. And that's that.
Who do you admire in the fashion industry?
KE Hedi Slimane is the main reason I became a designer. He's a real role model, very rebellious as well. And now with his collection for Yves Saint Laurent, I need to find a way to come up with enough money to buy it all [laughs]. Miuccia Prada is one of the most important people I would say; she may be my favorite person when talking about womenswear and Hedi all the way, especially in the days of Dior Homme.
Are there any places you have never been and would like to visit?
KE Japan! I have never been and I badly want to go! Since I've started selling my collection in Paris I have met some amazing Japanese buyers, I love them and they seem to love me. Japan is so rich in history.
Where can we find your collections for the Spring/Summer 2013 season?
KE To mention a few: Harvey Nichols, Luisa Via Roma and Mr. Porter, but please visit the website for the full list of next season. It's already a great start of the new year!
Hair TOM BERRY Make-up THOM WALKER Model EMILIO MILLAR ESCAURIZA (SELECT MODELS) Graphic Design GUIDO LAGERWEIJ Stylist Assistant ANNA WAGNER