Published on January 22, 2014 | by Juliet Atto0
Profile: Claire Yurika DavisALN’s Juliet Atto chats with young fashion designer Claire Yurika Davis about her fashion label ‘Hanger’.
In a rented studio in Hackney 23-year-old Claire Yurika Davis is working on her new collection and preparing for her showcase with Who’s Next and The Future of Fashion Program, which had her featured in Dazed & Confused magazine at the beginning of the year.
They have collaborated with Not Just a Label, which has been supporting and introducing young designers to the fashion world since 2008.
Together they have chosen 20 up-and-coming designers for the Who’s Next 2014 Autumn/Winter trade show in Paris. Davis has been chosen as one of the designers for the competition.Davis started her fashion journey in 2008 by doing a foundation year at LCF, and went to graduate in fashion design at the University for the Creative Arts in 2012.
“It was good because it was really challenging and unlike anything I had done before because I had just come out of sixth form. It taught me how to work hard and through the night,” she recalls.
“The competition was with Not Just a Label and it said you have to have two commercial collections already and I only had one. But they asked me to send them my stuff anyway and it was literally the morning of the closing day for the competition. I didn’t hear anything for like a week or so and then I got a congratulations email saying I’d been selected.”
Despite crediting her education with teaching her the technical aspect of being a designer, Davis recalls not always seeing eye to eye with her tutors: “When I was at uni, my tutors hated me. They hated all of my work, gave me the worst grades ever and told me it was trash.
“In the end it teaches you to stand up to people challenging you. It makes you really think about what you are doing and if you really want to do something or not. It pushes you to say ‘OK, well I really want to do it anyway,’ but if it’s not a good idea then you can say ‘ok, maybe not.’”
Davis’ drive and determination led her to start her own label in 2012 called Hanger.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own label, so I thought I might as well do it now. When is a better time?” she said.”After uni I was doing loads of freelance work and assisting in studios but I wanted a more solid job so I applied to a few things. But I was either way too qualified or didn’t have nearly enough experience. It was doing my head in because if you want to be a junior designer or design assistant you have to have like three years experience and if you want to be a pattern cutter it’s all the same. Obviously I can’t intern for free because I have to live.”
Instead of allowing herself to be defeated by a situation that many young designers find themselves in, she took matters into her own hands and started looking into how she could start her own business.“I was looking around for funding and I came across The Prince’s Trust and read a lot about starting businesses and what I had to do. Then I just started doing that. I wasn’t like ‘today I’m going to do this, and next week I’m going to start my own business.’ I just gathered more and more information and started taking steps towards doing it, and then ended up doing it.”
“The Prince’s Trust was really good. They gave me loads of business advice. I’m still connected with them and I have a mentor and also got my first loan with the East London School Business Centre. My mentor at The Prince’s Trust is not fashion-based, but gives me great business advice and is very objective.”
Although she was disappointed with not getting a job after university, Davis is now grateful that things turned out the way they did: “I guess if someone had given me a job at a design house I wouldn’t be doing this, but they didn’t, so I just did my own.”
Davis’ friends inspire the clothes for her label, as well as what she thinks is missing in fashion: “I just make clothes that I want to wear that aren’t around. I feel that a lot of designers forget that you must really want to wear the clothes. Of course they have to be interesting, but when I design I think ‘oh, I could put it with this outfit and it would look sick’. It’s not just a piece of art for a stand; I want it to be worn. I want people to say: ‘I really want to wear this.’”
The trade show for Who’s Next will properly introduce the fashion world to Davis and her work, something she is very excited about but also a bit wary:
“I just make clothes that I want to wear that aren’t around. I feel that a lot of designers forget that you must really want to wear the clothes.” Claire Yurika Davis
“Things are happening so fast. People are interested in my shit, which is something I wasn’t expecting so anything is good. It would be nice to get a couple more retailers and also just being at the trade show will be good. But I’m not looking for anything mental, because I couldn’t handle it because it’s just me doing everything so I can’t have 100 retailers wanting my stuff because I wouldn’t know what to do.”
“As long as it’s a nice, slow progression. That’s all I want.”
The Who’s Next trade show is on January 25-28 and clothes from Hanger are available to buy at www.theunconventional.co.uk.