I stumbled across Eastie Empire, when a friend of mine sent me an image of an impeccably dressed lady with the lines “You will love this”. She was right, love I did. Said photograph was of Eastie Empire founder Sara Weston wearing pieces from the brands recently launched womenswear collection.
Originally a menswear brand specialising in tailoring, Eastie Empire expanded into womenswear as a result of a female clientele buying from their mens collection. I caught up with Sara to find out more about Eastie Empire, what its like to launch a menswear fashion brand, and shared notes on how to wear the ubiquitous menswear for women trend.
Please introduce yourself. Sara Weston, London, Founder of Eastie Empire
Eastie Empire launched as a British menswear label in 2009, why menswear before womenswear? I much prefer menswear over womenswear. To me it’s more iconic, more timeless – the cuts are both elegant and strong at the same time. Also menswear fabrics bring these cuts to life in a bolder more substantial way. I am not a fan of lots of the fabrics used in womenswear as often they look too flimsy. In 2009 I hadn’t realised that there was a big enough market for menswear tailoring for women.
What inspired you to expand into womenswear tailoring? More and more women were buying our brand of menswear but often it wasn’t quite the right fit. At the same time the demand for more unilateral fashion is growing rapidly but there doesn’t seem to be many brands actually offering gender neutral styles.
Describe the womenswear line of Eastie Empire in three words. Too tricky!! It’s menswear tailoring cut for a woman. It’s vintage and modern. It’s refined and worn in….Okay here goes: Unconventional, sexy, tailoring.
Why did you choose the tagline “Manners Maketh Man”, and what does it mean to you? It is about modern day manners. Being worldy wise, cultured, enjoying the good things in life, starting with how you take care of yourself and your appearance, right through to how you are day to day.
Is there a girl that encapsulates the Eastie Empire spirit? Elliott Sailor – the name alone is perfect! There are many girls who inspire us….women who are making, creating, innovating, pushing boundaries and changing the world. This is who we make clothes for.
You are a self taught designer, does this present challenges or opportunities? Both. Technically it means that I have to rely more on the team around me, but i’m relaxed about that – you can’t do every job yourself. You need to surround yourself with great people and let them get on with it. However I have a strong image of how I want each piece to look, and a clear image of the overall brand and each collection. Keeping this clear in my head helps direct everything else.
Is it a mans world when it comes to menswear, or does a woman’s touch help? I think it helps to be able to relate to the product/look you’re designing as much as possible. If you wouldn’t wear it – it makes the design process a bit more of a leap of faith.
What challenges have you faced and continue to face launching Eastie Empire? Any tips for those trying to launch a brand of their own? Trying to do too much to quickly. Work out what you want to be famous for, and perfect that first.
There has been a fascination with menswear in women’s clothing this season, do you see this as a passing fad or something that is here to stay?
I think lots of women enjoy wearing menswear tailoring, because it’s classic and cool. It is becoming increasingly visible because it’s increasingly acceptable for people to express themselves and wear what they like. Fashion is responding to demand.
Do you have a favourite British designer (mens and womens)? Can i go further afield?! Junya Watanabe & Dries Van Noten are two of my favourites.
Any tips for girls trying to wear the masculine chic look? I think it’s interesting to mix up your look – tailoring with sportswear, fitted pieces with more relaxed pieces, traditional fabrics with contemporary ones…this is the essence of our label – an eclectic contradiction.
Name one piece of clothing you could not live without. Our Eastie white Dress Shirt – a traditional mens tux shirt cut for girls – it looks great on everyone.
What objects do you have on your desk and what stories do they tell?
Dark chocolate is a permanent feature…! A wall of images to keep me focused and inspired. A few quotes scribbled out – to keep the belief and energy flowing.