We sat down with Claire Couchman of Couchman Bespoke to talk about tailoring. Read on for our exclusive interview!
Hi, Claire – how did you get started as a designer and tailor?
I studied at Brighton University where I developed a passion for pattern cutting. I have always loved tailored clothing with sharp lines made through pattern cutting, obscuring the silhouette and transforming the body form. Vivienne Westwood was my first inspiration and idol for her outrageous catwalk collections with extreme vandalism on fashion. Then Alexander McQueen appeared and everything changed to art, the theatre of the catwalk and tailoring in a new light. His modern approach to a traditional trade gave tailored clothing beauty and confidence to be yourself within whatever you wore.
“Then Alexander McQueen appeared and everything changed”
What do you prefer designing, menswear or womenswear?
I do prefer menswear as there is more scope to develop designs and try new paths. I get excited to design men’s clothing more than women’s.
Where do you get the inspiration for your collections? They seem really diverse!
Art plays a big part in the inspiration behind the designs I produce as I like to show my personality through what I wear, and think that everyone should have that same ability. I love colour and pattern, the architectural lines of buildings, spiral staircase, plants and the Fibonacci Sequence or the Golden Ratio. I look to street life and the everyday use of clothes by people in all sectors of society and industries, for inspiration behind details within the designs such as pockets.
What’s your favourite thing about creating your lines?
I love the creative process behind designing and pattern making, even though doing this with an intention to waste less can be hard work. My process starts with the cloth in mind and develops around the connotations of this. My designs tend to be very rough as I do all the pattern making myself, which can develop freely throughout this process to best suit any off cut cloth I may be using too. I also love to develop prints for the garments and have started to hand paint some to give a unique touch.
Tell us all about your most recent collection.
Geo-sartoria is a collection of finely tailored jackets and sharp shirts. The inspiration comes from architectural lines in glass panels and some brickwork. The shirts use up off-cut cloths mixed with hand naturally dyed organic cotton and bamboo, these are panelled up for a strong statement. The collection showcases recycled coffee bean bags and incorporates the logo prints into the garments.
Do you have any advice for budding tailors?
Believe in your dreams and bring them to light through passion. Always try an idea out and believe in your gut instincts for the longevity of an idea into a worth while concept. Business is about taking risks, however an initial idea will always develop over time, this is a natural process for a successful business. Never stop learning and developing yourself, skills and ideas. Unless you can pay someone be prepared to do more than just tailoring.
What does ‘fashion’ mean to you?
Fashion is pretentious, false and all for show. I call myself a ‘designer tailor or just a tailor’, and my brand as ‘men’s contemporary tailored clothing’. There is nothing wrong with the use of ‘fashion’ as a word, I just feel it is so embedded with fast fashion connotations that I wish to move away from the use of it.
What’s next for Couchman Bespoke?
Couchman Bespoke is looking to get funding for a studio space where the brand can develop and grow forward. The space will have access for the public to come in and visit; for an alteration fitting, to collect garments, create a bespoke garment or just view the production process. Within 5 years the brand will be recruiting and training up tailors to work in-house from the local community.
Thanks for chatting with us – where can our readers go to follow you and check out your work?
The brand is on all major social media platforms as CouchmanBespoke and the website is www.couchman-bespoke.com.