Tell us a little bit about the Donna Sgro label.
Donna Sgro is a womenswear label infused with a quirky, playful and light-hearted spirit. The garments mix the high quality finishes and attention to detail of tailoring with the relaxed attitude of a sportive approach. A Donna Sgro garment is designed as a unique piece that will become a cherished part of the wardrobe, and resists seasonal trends. Recognised internationally by the Director of Issey Miyake and President of Chanel Japan as a designer with a unique talent, Donna Sgro’s latest collection, Octopus’s Garden, was recently launched as part of the 1st SHINMAI Creator’s Project at Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo. This was an amazing opportunity for the label, with ISETAN Department Store in Tokyo the first to pick up the Octopus’s Garden range.
What is your background and what motivated you to start your own label?
Originally I studied art theory and philoshophy and was really motivated to find a way to interpret my research into a creative outcome. I am driven largely by curiosity and interested in making things so fashion design came about as a great way for me to explore all my interests and be creative. I have always been very independent minded and wanted to start something creative that I could work at and build upon.
What is your creative process in starting a range?
My creative process is quite involved – I like to draw inspiration from a lot of different sources, so it is usually something that evolves over time but then focuses when time restraints come to bear. I like to work with a strong visual concept and do some background research to be able to draw information for designing from. I also like to start with most of my materials to hand so I know what I am working with. Mostly I design a textile print to work within the fashion range so this will be started alongside sketching out the range. I make lots and lots of revisions and prototypes before the final product is sampled!
What other fashion designers influence you?
I think for me influences come from everywhere, not necessarily from other fashion designers. I am influenced by people who successfully communicate a vision for a different world. Fashion designers who I admire and respect for their originality would include Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garcons), Hussein Chalayan and Walter van Beirendonck.
What important factors do you think it takes to successfully start your own label?
I think a lot of patience, perseverence and belief in what you do is essential. A combination of creativity and business acumen is a must, together with establishing a great support network of people in your industry, and a real willingness to put in the hours!
What is your workspace like and what things do you surround yourself with?
My workspace teeters between being incredibly organised and periodically disorganised! I love to work surrounded in an environment of music definitely but there are also odd things we collect such as robots, lambs, rayguns and plastic furniture thrown into the mix. And of course my small dog Pepito accompanies me everyday to the studio so there is always a friendly tail wagging.
Where to now? What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I am working on production for the Octopus’s Garden range. This is a transeasonal range which will be developing over the coming year. I am planning forward for the label into next year with some changes ahead. Of particular interest to me at the moment is research into fabrics. Currently I source 90% of my fabrics from Japan and am looking at ways to ensure fabrics I use are as sustainable as possible and make minimal impact on the environment. I already use a large percentage of tencel fibre and am looking into ways to extend this usage and source other fabrics that minimise impact on the environment.