Interview with Ellen Brookes from SIDELINE

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Posted: 1 year ago

Tags: Brand Stories

Interview with Ellen Brookes from SIDELINE

The understated and versatile designs and beautiful indigo fabrics, trademark of SIDELINE, have only been on our rails for a season, and their unique character and casual vibe have already made a statement. Intrigued by the story behind the brand, we have chatted to Ellen Brookes, heart and brain behind what, from just a 'sideline', has become a success. 

What is your background? Has the picturesque city of Brighton influenced your vision of fashion?

I studied Fashion at Brighton (many years ago). After graduating, I went to work in the States and since returning I have worked in London. My first job shaped my career in casualwear and denim and gave me and understanding of how to build a brand and stick to its aesthetics. 

I live outside Brighton now in a very pretty town called Lewes. My studio, which is housed in an old brewery where lots of other creatives work, is also here- we have guitar makers, artists, illustrators, writers and I share my space with an artisan tea-maker. 

The people I have met since living here have definitely influenced me. I think about how they wear their clothes and what would suit their lifestyle but also feel new and exciting. 

SIDELINE for SS16 focuses on relaxed shapes with a little romantic and feminine feel. The cold indigo tones are matched with warm yellows and nude tones. Where did you take inspiration from?

Good question...I think I am influenced without even realising I am being - by people, my environment, art, music and just life in general. The core of the collection will always be indigo but this is such a versatile colour that can be used in so many different ways. This season I wanted to work with cooler tones and soft bleached down indigo. For AW16 I have designed into much deeper, more intense shades. I am evolving the collection each season as I learn more about my customers. I want each season to feel new and exciting but it also has to look like SIDELINE

How would you describe the SIDELINE woman? And who would you like to be wearing your clothes? 

I don't design for an age group or particular woman but more for a mindset and taste level. I love seeing all of my gorgeous friends in SIDELINE as they are a big inspiration to me. The fact that my friends want to wear my clothes is the biggest compliment to me. I also love to see some older ladies wearing them. The SIDELINE woman is interested in fashion and how she dresses but not obsessed by it and the newest trends. 

Thoughtful design and subtle, understated detail. Where does the name SIDELINE come from?

I still consult for other companies and teach on the fashion degree at Brighton University, so when I started SIDELINE, it was a proper 'sideline' to this work. It was easier for me to have the courage to start something if I didn't apply the pressure of it being everything. 

The brand has grown faster than I could have imagined and it has developed from being only a side line now which is great and very exciting. 

Have the brands you worked for before launching your own line influenced SIDELINE? Or did you wish to step away from them to express your vision freely? 

I worked in fast fashion quite a lot,so I wanted to create something that had more staying power than one season. I hope that SIDELINE clothes will be cherished for many years. I do have elements of trend items in the collection. For example, culottes are very popular at the moment but I design them in such a way that feels understated and can be worn year after year. 

What do you wear on a normal day at the design studio? 

Today, I am wearing a vintage French ticking stripe smock, a pair of old battered jeans and slides. I am generally pretty casual and probably a bit scruffy. I have two kids and lead a very busy life so comfort is important. 

Shop SIDELINE collection here. 

Words: Vanessa Piras

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