By Nat Cantor
Not only is she my bandmate and friend, she's also the CEO and founder of fashion label Hellespont. Introducing Tiffany Alwis.
So Tiff, I met you through music. But what led you to get involved in fashion?
I sort of muscled my way in a few years ago. I hadn't gone through the usual fashion school route - I have a music degree - and was working in a pretty fun, safe job at Red Bull before I felt like I'd forgotten what I really enjoyed doing, which is making stuff.
So how did you make it happen for yourself?
It didn't seem feasible to do another degree, so I created my own. Over the space of 18 months I did 'modules' made up of short courses in pattern cutting, design and fabric technology. I left Red Bull and started interning at a label called Peter Jensen.
I primarily enjoy the actual construction of clothes, so when I came across a production place in East London making some rather excellent things like Comme des Garcon, Gloverall, Erdem and Victoria Beckham, I asked if I could work to top up my skills there. They were a bit bemused at first but eventually said yes. Things progressed from there.
What do you enjoy about the crafting process?
I had a great time working on the cutting table and doing the hand finishing. Those garments are made in the same way you'd imagine a beautiful car.
The materials are expensive and there's a finite amount of it, so each part has to be very carefully executed. Each piece is nothing less than perfect before leaving the building, so it was a great practical education and totally set my own standards in defining quality.
What's the best and worst thing about running your own label?
The best bit is that it's entirely up to me what happens. The tough bit is that it's entirely up to me what happens!
Who inspires you creatively?
There's nothing better than people watching! I'm long in the habit of constantly observing and looking for things that please me. A little flag goes up in my head when something stands out - perhaps particular colour combination - and these all join up over time to create an idea that just busts to get out and take a form.
But I'm definitely no puritan, I love a seaside souvenir shop as much as I love Dover St Market. I find 1940's French glamour as pleasing as 90's sport luxe. I think we have the capacity to find inspiration from all types of things and I find it quite boring when someone observes a building, a car, a picture, a song or something and decides straight away that they don't 'like' it before moving on.
You host your own quarterly event, tell us a bit about that.
I run Fashion Sunday with my best friend Sonia Williams at Oval Space in Hackney. It's a quarterly event that brings together London's ready-to-wear and accessories designers to show and sell.
We choose labels for their individual sense of personality, design quality, principles of manufacture and commercial appeal. Some you may have heard of, others not.
Good music, food and a proper bar alongside a few extras make it a really worthwhile place to hang out on a Sunday, we think.
We're recently supported by the British Fashion Council and Mayor of London so we're hyped about how we can be of a really support to London Designers for years to come.