EAUX speaks to the founder of clothing design studio SLC-SLC

Let us introduce you to Sarah Louise Chatterton – clothing designer, social anthropologist and business owner. Sarah graduated from Suffolk School of Art & Design and began her career working for esteemed design art company, Established & Sons and has also had the pleasure of working as a costumier for The Royal Opera House, researching and designing for Tannhauser, Adriana Lecouvreur and Anna Nicole. Despite the beginning of her career being in London, the draw of Suffolk holds strong and we wanted to find out more about Sarah’s love of her home county, how it inspires her work and how she’s trying the breathe life back into the textile industry in East Anglia.

How do you find being a designer in Suffolk?

Suffolk is such an inspirational place to design and create; there’s so much natural beauty to watch and draw. I also love how laid back most people are, and the space – it’s nice to be in a chilled environment – and to infuse our work with that happiness.

There are a lot of amazing artists and creative people in the local area, although there are hubs in Aldeburgh and Southwold. When you look you find so much home grown talent. So many people find the area a great spot to create in; such as local talented photographer Tanya Simpson who has worked with us to capture the Suffolk countryside and Kay Mullenger who’s created our jewellery range from our off cuts – meaning we don’t waste material or add to landfill.

I also find lots of people migrate to Suffolk from London after varied careers there. For instance, we’ve worked with celebrated fashion photographer John Ferguson, who has worked with Naomi Campbell amongst many others; Jane Goodchild who designs fabulous handbags and Cheri Knock who is a make-up artist with her own studio, Morello Studio, to create fantastic collaborations.

SLC Design Photo shoot

Can you tell us a little about your fashion and textile history?

I studied fashion and illustration at the Suffolk School of Art and Design and would thoroughly recommend to anyone; the teachers were fabulous and had a great history of working on interesting projects for big companies – they were very free spirited and really encouraged pure creativity. It was a really enjoyable time.

I also topped up with courses locally in sewing, dress-making, pattern cutting, fashion design and textile creation. I also studied Social Anthropology at Uni which was very varied and means I have a background in human rights and the general study of societies and humankind which helps to create a business that is also eco-friendly and socially responsible.

What inspires your designs?

The play of colour on the water at local rivers and the seaside, beachscapes, nature, and flora and fauna. There is an abundance of beauty all around us.

SLC Design Photo shoot

How would you describe your style?

Laid back luxe; we like to create easy to wear versatile pieces, with a bit of an edge and quirky patterning, to keep life fun! It’s important for us to create pieces which will last well and not just be for one season and thrown away so we make versatile pieces that can be dressed up and down for years to come. It’s nice to create a little piece of art for people to wear, too. I love that everyone who buys a piece of clothing from us knows that it has been silk screen printed one at a time by hand, and home sewn with fabric made by a local company. It’s an antidote to mass manufactured fashion; our pieces are special, and unique – just like our customers!

Why is supporting British manufacturing so important to you?

It’s the feel good factor, of knowing you’re supporting something local; this means to us supporting the local economy, and happy family run businesses that we know and trust. The quality of the jerseys we’re working with from our suppliers in the UK is great – you can really see the difference and feel it immediately.

Our clothes are home sewn in Suffolk by people who I know personally and I can see how much they enjoy their work and the love they put into it. I really believe that’s important, so along with upbeat designs that are hand printed here in Suffolk, we’re making something in an environment which is happy and good for people. It’s a lifestyle at work.

What are some of your best-selling items?

Last year it was our charcoal heart tee, and this year we’ve moved towards beautiful indigos and french navy’s as a replacement… these work perfectly with simple metallic designs. Our customers also love the feel of the silky fabric, the easy to wear shape and draped look alongside the simple, beautiful designs – which are a pleasure to wear and own.

Our Stag Tunic was a fave over Christmas and into this year and has a lovely proud silver stag prancing all over it.

How involved are you with the production process and from conception right through to completion?

Completely involved… and that’s what I love… the variation and new things to learn… and the time spent enjoying creating for others to enjoy!

What is a typical day like for you?

There’s no such thing as a typical day! It all depends on where the wind blows and where people’s collective consciousness lands. If an item takes off and we have online orders and wholesale orders then energy will be put into that. There’s normally a really busy period like that twice a year – the rest of the time it’s great fun creating for lively and busy events like the Suffolk Show. Designing new pieces is of course the most fun along with fabric buying trips, drawing designs, doing the maths prior to each collection launching, website design and working with original customers.