fashionFashion & StyleSponsors

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH EMILY HARBOTTLE FOR DEFIED

1.33Kviews

1. What inspired you to start your own fashion brand, Defied, at this stage in your life?
Fashion has always been a passion of mine. From a young age, I watched my mum making clothes for us all, which inspired me. I always dreamed of being a Fashion Designer and loved art. I noticed small details in my surroundings that no one else did. It seemed natural for me to study Art and Design and then go to Uni to study Fashion and Textiles. After showing my final collection, I realized I needed to start my own brand when I wasn’t able to accept an opportunity in NYC. I knew then that I had to start my career in the UK. Fashion Design became my indulgence in my spare time, and I found sanctuary in it. Creativity was something I dreamt of regularly, and ideas had to be scribbled down before they were forgotten. I often had a notepad next to me to jot down design ideas that I had to put to paper. Over the years, I had to deal with some abusive and difficult relationships, which made me question myself and what I wore day to day. I was led to believe I made wrong decisions and wasn’t capable of knowing what was right or wrong to wear, do, or say. Until I broke the chain and realized, in time of healing, that all of the torment I was put through wasn’t my issues, but theirs. I was right in whatever I decided to wear, which depended on how I felt that day and what mood I was in. I wanted to express this feeling of empowerment and gaining my life choices back in my designs and in a brand that women can relate to. This was the making of DEFIED. The powerful feeling of realization to help others through my designs is what started the creation of DEFIED. The name of the brand means so much. It means women can say, “I am powerful, and I will defy anyone who says I can’t be me.” This journey led to the making of DEFIED, and I hope women are inspired to dress fabulously, which makes them feel empowered to be their true selves.

2. How do your life experiences influence your designs?
Growing up in the 80s with all the amazing music influences and fashion trends had a huge impact on me, and I’ll always be an 80s wild child kinda gal. The sequin stretch and metallic glistening stage outfits we’d see on our TV screens, combined with inspiration from emotion,
really pulled together and inspired me to create the first collection. Our recent photo shoot with a stunning vintage red Mustang pretty much expresses the inspiration for this collection.

3. Can you tell us about the significance of the name “Defied” for your brand?
As I’ve mentioned above, the name of the brand really evolved along the journey of transformation and empowerment journey in my life. To create a fashion brand is one thing! But to create a fashion brand that meant something and helped women be more confident in what they wear, to better their unique selves through empowering through the designs they wear, it had to be called DEFIED. Because you are worth the luxury. You can wear what you want in pride and anyone who’s said otherwise in attempts to diminish your soul, will be DEFIED. This is power and empowerment through my designs and the entirety of the brand. This is also resembled by the defiant nature of the brand to be more environmentally sustainable, than other brands in the Fashion Industry. Fashion is a huge part of contributing to the CO2 Carbon Footprint around the world, DEFIED as a brand uses recycled and reusable custom-made premium packaging and sources fabrics from sustainable sources and deadstock where possible. Also, all garments are crafted in London to ensure high quality and reduce our Carbon Footprint. Doing our bit, and supporting the UK Fashion Industry.

4. How do you balance creativity and business in your fashion career?
Creativity is always flowing! It’s random and constant! This could be in the middle of the night or over a meal out in a fancy restaurant, or a walk on the beach. My creative brain is always ticking! Business… well I am a workaholic! So I am always working my day job and making
business decisions every day and most evenings. Creativity is always around, poking its head into whatever I’m doing.

5. What challenges did you face when transitioning from ideas to a full-fledged business?
The main challenge was not the designs; they kept coming and flowing every day, all the time. The real challenge was meeting the high-quality standards I demanded for my brand. I spent years trying out “so-called high-end manufacturers” in the UK. It was a struggle to find the right quality and to have my designs made in the UK until I discovered a top designer production team in London. They are the very best in the industry, with impeccable quality and attention to detail. It had to be the best and thus had to be made by the best. You can’t cut corners if you want quality; you have to adhere to it.

6. How does your background in Fashion & Textiles inform your current work?
My expertise in garment technology, combined with my knowledge of textiles and design, inspires me to push the boundaries of garment shapes and textures. I enjoy finding innovative ways to work with fabrics and create unique designs. My first collection exemplifies this approach, featuring metallic, metal-like fabrics that showcase the beauty and strength of liquid gold. These designs demonstrate how luxury can intersect with a bold, metallic aesthetic.

7. What message do you want to convey through your designs at Defied?
At DEFIED we believe in promoting longer-lasting fashion with timeless designs in luxury fabrics that are made to last. By encouraging consumers to invest in sustainable, longer lasting fashion made in the UK, we aim to help reduce the world’s carbon footprint. Our
mission is to empower wearers and boost confidence by promoting individuality without boundaries. There are no rules, just be you!

8. How does it feel to be a sponsor of the National Film Awards?
I am truly honoured to have been asked to be involved with this amazing prestigious event. I’m super excited to attend the evening and look forward to meeting some of the winners and getting to spend the evening celebrating with them. I hope this will be the beginning of a long-term relationship with the National Film Awards and look forward to it.

9. Can you describe a moment when someone told you that you couldn’t achieve something and how you overcame it?
There have been many times in my life when I’ve been told I can’t dress the way I wanted to dress, or I’m never going to achieve the things I want to achieve, or that I need to choose a proper career instead of Fashion. Because it’s not a real job is it?! Well, I beg to differ! You can do whatever makes you happy. Whatever it is that fulfills you and makes you YOU. The more someone tells me I can’t… the more I want to defy them and show them I can. I hope this inspires people to go for their goals, believe in themselves, and show the world, they can.

10. What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers who are told they can’t succeed?
Always follow your dreams and go for it! Someone’s got to! It may as well be you! If you don’t, you’ll always regret it and that will haunt you forever… The “what if”?! Give it your very best shot! Believe in yourself and show the world, that YOU CAN and YOU WILL.