Escapism is the avoidance of unpleasant, boring, arduous, scary, or banal aspects of daily life.
Let’s meet Lisa Cairns from Newcastle, England – fashion soul of the contemporary womenswear brand Aura Beige, who’s latest AW17/18 collection called Escapism is inspired by the Victorian era – powerful silhouettes with hints of feminist detail.
Describe your background leading up to Aura Beige
My fascination with fashion goes way back to when I was a small child. My favourite thing to do was to sketch beautiful dresses on silhouettes and then present my masterpieces to my parents. However, as I got older my life lead down other paths. Fast forward twenty years, after founding my own e-commerce fast fashion boutique I rediscovered my passion. I found I became very dissatisfied with the quality of fabrics and construction of clothing I was buying in and spent more time altering them than anything else. This was when I realised I wouldn’t be fully satisfied until I had full control. I began sketching again and researching every aspect of designing and starting up my own brand any spare moment of every day.
Describe your typical work day
I don’t really have a typical work day. Every day is different. Leading up to the launch of my collection my days would consist of sketching, creating mood boards and fabric sourcing then a whole lot of manufacturer research. Once I found a manufacturer I was happy with, the sampling process starts and then its getting the samples perfect and ready to present to buyers. Then the whole process starts again with next season.
Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?
I am self-taught, which I think has both positive and negative aspects. Negative being, self doubt? Will people in the industry respect me as designer if I haven’t studied fashion design and earned a 1st class honours degree at Central St. Martins? Who knows? Maybe that drives me to work harder, I have always liked a challenge. Positives to not having a formal educational background in design are probably that I am following my own path with absolutely no outside input, just my own perception of art and fashion which I find very fulfilling.
Who is your favourite designer? What do you like about him/her?
There are so many, but I’d have to say my all time favourite designer has to be Alexander McQueen. I’ve always been so drawn to his work and I have so much respect for Sarah Burton and how she has carried the brand forward. Latest pagan inspired collection at Paris Fashion Week was absolutely stunning. Definitely my highlight.
The city that inspires you the most?
I get inspired from anywhere thats big on culture and can offer a different outlook on life. I live in Newcastle Upon Tyne which is located in the North East of England. It is a small city but full of art and history and yes, it is very inspiring, the people are notoriously known for their friendly manner and loyalty to each other, which are attributes I will take with me throughout my career. I am really lucky that I have grew up in such an amazing city full of culture.
What are your thoughts on connections in the fashion industry?
I think we now live in a world where we are all connected through the internet and social media platforms so if you do your research on the right people or companies that are relevant to what your doing then I’d say it’s a lot easier now to reach out to people and network.
I think there are also a lot of helpful blogs or forums out there that are full of tips on starting your own brand and breaking into the fashion industry. You also have the likes of Drapers, Business of Fashion which are full of industry insights and I also found the series of documentaries Vogue released with Alexa Chung was very interesting to watch. I read lots of books that I draw inspiration from, from Ralph Lauren’s biography, to Seth Godin’s the purple cow, which is all about being creative with your marketing and getting your product known. I also recently read an E-book by Fashion consultant Renato Grant called ‘Some buyers will, some buyers wont’ which I would definitely recommend to fashion start ups.
How do you see your brand in a year’s time?
I would like to see my brand continue to grow organically, I would like to be stocked in at least 3 of my target retailers and I hope I continue to grow and learn each day as a fashion designer and business woman as I have done over this past year.
What makes Aura Beige different to others?
For me, collections are based on stories and that really is my main focus – to give the customer an experience more than anything else. Fashion is like a fine wine, a beautiful meal, an exciting movie or book and I think about how the customer will feel when wearing the pieces, and the escapism that it can offer them. I’m also very much a feminist and I love the idea of being able to empower other women the best way I know how, through fashion.
Contact Lisa Cairns: