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Q + A with fashion designer, Love & Squalor - our limited edition jacket + jumpsuit collaborator

September 02, 2021

Till, Kenji and Dee modelling jacket #004, #005 & #006 from our limited edition collaboration.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today? I know you have a background in the theatre but what prompted you to start your own company back in 2017 and begin Love & Squalor?
I did start out as a costume maker, working freelance in theatre in Scotland. I learned a lot from my time as a costume maker and it definitely helped to hone my skills. After a few years though, I had started to get a bit disillusioned with how disposable everything was. Given the nature of the job, I was regularly working to tight budgets and deadlines so would often have to make things from cheap fabrics or buy fast fashion pieces which would be customised. As a maker, I think I wanted to be making things which were built to last so I started really thinking about what I wanted to be producing instead.
When it came to my own shopping habits, I had always tried to buy clothes that were quite timeless and well made but I couldn't always find what I was looking for. I began thinking of launching my own brand and started the process in early 2017. I knew I wanted to start with a physical shop, so I set about trying to find somewhere. I almost wanted to create the feel of a traditional men's outfitter so wanted to stock, well made, everyday pieces that all complemented one another so you could source an entire outfit under one roof. I wanted to create pieces that would appeal to any age group and that weren't trend led. I soon found the right premises and opened our doors in May 2017. The business has changed and evolved over time and is now online only. I have learned so much along the way and I'm sure I still have lots to learn but I'm very grateful to be able to do what I love everyday.
Rebecca Coyle, owner, designer & maker of Love & Squalor wearing her favourite Phoebe dress.
2. What does a typical day at Love & Squalor feel like?
A typical day at Love & Squalor still consists mainly of sewing! I do have a few freelance makers who help out with the manufacturing but I still do the majority of it myself. I love being so hands-on with the making side and really enjoy getting stuck into making a new batch of something. Coming from a theatre background, I would very rarely make multiples of the same thing so I worried that I would find making lots of the same item quite boring but I actually really enjoy it! I love getting into the zone with a good podcast on and finding a rhythm. It can become quite meditative. There are always lots of other jobs to see to as well like designing new pieces, packaging orders, updating instagram and replying to e-mails. You do have to become a bit of a jack of all trades when you have your own business. The to-do list is never ending but it's been great to learn so many new skills along the way. 
Jacket #003 from our Love & Squalor collaboration,  made using 100% cotton duck material printed in a sample of our Wet Weather Print.
3. Do you have a favourite item from your current collection?
I think my favourite item would have to be the Phoebe dress. I designed it last year and have worn it consistently since. I am currently quite heavily pregnant and I'm still really enjoying wearing it. Thankfully there's been plenty of space for my growing bump! I wore it lots before I was pregnant and I can definitely see myself wearing it afterwards too. It works in so many different fabrics and can be layered up for winter. I always try to design pieces that are versatile and flexible and I hope that Phoebe ticks a few boxes! 
 
Rebecca, centre, models some of her collection alongside her mum, left and sister Felicity, right, who also now works with the brand. (I love this photo!)
4. What is your favourite fabric to work with and why?
My favourite fabrics to work with are cotton drills and denims. I love workwear and always design with that aesthetic in mind. I love the robustness of drill and how well it ages. I like the idea that clothes will only look better with age and I think that is so true when it comes to drill. It softens up so nicely over time but is still hardy enough to take some wear and tear.
 
Rebecca, right, designer and founder of Love & Squalor modelling her collection with sister Felicity.
5. Finally do you have a favourite podcast you can recommend?
I love a podcast! They are the best accompaniment to a day of sewing. I loved 'Dolly Parton's America'. I'm a big Dolly fan so I was so excited to give this one a listen. It covers so much including the musical history of where she is from in Appalachia, her relationship with Porter Wagner as well as her politics and religion, It was a really fascinating listen- I would highly recommend it. 
I also love 'Conversations of Inspiration', 'The Great Indoors' and 'The New Craft House Podcast'.
Find out more about Love & Squalor www.loveandsqualor.co.uk

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