SOPHIE HULME

...military meets luxury

by Dara Lang
Sophie Hulme met the team at NJAL for a one to one appointment to discuss her unusual marriage of military clothing with luxury: After graduating from Kingston University, Sophie Hulme has dazzled the industry with her sequinned military parkas and jackets armoured with jets. For such a new designer, Hulme has already has interest from Selfridge's in London, Tom Greyhouse in Korea, and Bettina in Greece. Having already read through the enormous amount of press coverage, I was curious to find out what makes Sophie Hulme so successful? I had the pleasure of meeting Hulme for a coffee and a discussion on her past, present and future plans in the industry, as well as discovering how possible it is for a new designer to gain so much success so shortly after graduating.

“The collection only includes key pieces” says Sophie Hulme, “the result is a luxury look.” Based in a studio in north London, Hulme has created a very clever recipe. Her concept is simple. She sources newly made, traditional military clothing and detailing, and translates this into luxury wear by adding key elements such as sequins, leather and gold chains. This crossover to military and hard edge with a hint of luxury is an unusual marriage, but it works. In the way that it suits the hard working, strong woman of today, who desires opulence, it suits those who seek protection and armoured gear to shield from the harsh world we live in. Although feminine elements are highlighted, for instance the bowon the back of the bomber jacket, Hulme explained that these are subtle elements of femininity, but the main focus here is to merge the masculine features that create a hard edge look.

Hulme creates key garments, eliminating unnecessary items of clothing and bringing forward long lasting individual pieces that can be re-introduced in the future. More of collector’s items than trend led collections; Hulme centred her line on key jackets, coats, bags and hats. Consequently, a growing jewellery line is to come.

The outcome of her work is new and whilst her collection is very wearable, it thrives on her attention to detail, flawless leather from Linea Pelle in Paris, and luxurious fabric which she sources from Italy, Japan, France and India. Unlike many new designers who eagerly try and get their work onto the catwalks, Hulme focuses on attracting retailers across the globe, and works closely with her PR agency to appeal to the right clientele as opposed to the mass market. Remember this is luxury, so attracting the perfect niche is vital to the representation of the brand. Nonetheless, Hulme admits that she is a tomboy at heart, her love for streetwear and menswear breathes through her collection and is a significant foundation in her work.

This is just the beginning of Hulme’s tour de force, with plans to touch on various areas of design such as illustration, graphic design, and printing (which she has introduced). This is the first chapter of Sophie Hulme with many more to come.

Untied to time, she plans to continually re-invent her line with a new Hulme for every season, whether that meansexperimenting with fabric, with concepts or collaborating with different artists as opposed to the traditional fashion show. The future looks promising and exciting for Hulme, who continues to attract international press and hungry retailers keen to acquire her collection, which has successfully attracted the powerful women of today (and even men).