Every week in July, Wear Next is meeting the faces behind some of the most popular sustainable and small fashion labels in the UK. This week, we meet the brains behind With Love Evie, Evie Ashwin.
I recently discovered With Love Evie on Instagram, thanks to the selection of über-stylish influencers wearing the brand, including Sara Waiste and Anisha Kalsi. The sustainable fashion brand has a small (but mighty) collection of handmade pieces, made in Evie’s recognisable gingham and heart-print fabrics.
Evie makes each piece to order, crafting the garments with precision and perfectionism to create the best fit possible for her customers. She admits the first Honor dress she made took five attempts, because she wanted it to be the best it could be. Of course, she’s also happy to create custom orders for her loyal customers and you best bet she’ll put her heart and soul into it.
I spoke to Evie from her garden shed / studio in Lincolnshire and the passion she has for her brand was palpable. While her label is still relatively small – Evie does every little aspect of the business herself – I very much doubt it will stay that way.
Here, she talks building a business, the people that inspire her and her dreams for With Love Evie’s future.
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Hi Evie! What inspired you to start With Love Evie?
I studied fashion design at Nottingham Trent Uni. In my final year, I chose to specialise in inclusive clothing and created an adaptive clothing collection for people with disabilities. I’d always wanted to have my own inclusive fashion brand, and from doing the adaptive range, I knew that people don’t relate to mannequins in shops. They spend money on clothes that don’t really fit them and they just sit then in their wardrobes because they don’t feel comfortable in them. If you feel comfortable in your clothing, you’re a lot happier.
Did you start the brand straight after uni?
I graduated in 2019 and got a job as a print designer for a sock company. It taught me about different consumers and what people want, but I’d only been working there for about six months when COVID hit and I went on furlough. I’d already been doing my business at the weekend while working 9-5, but it was so hard so I made the most of the time off and converted our garden shed into a studio and started to build up my brand from there. Everything is done by me, from pattern cutting and fabric sourcing. I don’t mind working on it 24/7 because I enjoy it and I want it to be like the best it can be.
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What inspires your designs?
I design the clothes that my sister and I absolutely love and feel comfortable in. I like to design my fabric, then I can envision what silhouette I want it to be. I can literally get inspiration from anything, from films to artwork. I just take photos of everything!
How long does it take you to sew a With Love Evie dress?
It takes me about three hours. A lot of people don’t realise how much hard work and thought goes into it. When I first started, it must have taken me three of four attempts to perfect the silhouette on the original Honor dress!
What’s been the biggest pinch me moment since starting the brand?
It sounds really silly, but it’s literally the fact that people actually are buying my pieces. I don’t have a very big following, but I feel like my followers are very determined to get a dress so a lot of it sells out in the first five minutes. Most people panic to think they might not get a dress, which astounds me even now. I always worry that it will never happen the next time!
Why are small and sustainable brands like With Love Evie so important to the fashion industry?
After what happened with Boohoo [when they were accused of ‘modern slavery’ and found to be paying garment workers in the UK below minimum wage], people are becoming more aware. I feel like people were in denial and didn’t believe that that was happening until it was plastered all over the news. And of course, a lot of people know about greenwashing and want a bit more transparency, don’t they?
I think people also like supporting local businesses making clothing in the UK. They like to know who the person is behind the brand and to support you as a person.
What are your dreams for the brand’s future?
I would absolutely love to have a studio, with a team of local sewers and a pattern cutter. I do it myself, but it takes so much time! I’d also just like to be recognised as being a small business and to grow, while still being me.
Who would you love to see one wearing one of your pieces?
Holly Willoughby. I would love to see one of my pieces on TV, because my nan would be like ‘Wow!’
What’s the hardest aspect of running your business?
I put so much pressure on myself and sometimes I forget that things take time. I’m such a perfectionist, so I’d never send out a garment if it like wasn’t perfect. I just like want everything to be amazing, so it’s balancing having a life and building a business, which can be hard, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
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Which other brands inspire you?
I love Rixo! Their designs are stunning. Henrietta [Rix] and Orla [McCloskey] literally started in their uni bedroom together, which is so inspiring. They used to have clients come to their house to try things on.
I also love Ben Francis from Gymshark. I love his work ethic and how he’s built his brand. He has a YouTube channel about how he about how he built it up from his garage.
What advice would you give to other creatives looking to start their own brands?
You can spend so much time perfecting it before you’ve even started, but you just need to do it. I recently read this quote, ‘Don’t let perfect stop you from progress.’ Nothing is perfect, but you’ve just got to put it out there. You can always change course if you want to do something else. Nothing is set in stone.
How has your attitude changed to fashion over the pandemic?
Before that pandemic I’d shop on the high street, but the pandemic changed my perspective. I’ve shopped from a lot more small businesses, like Lydia Bolton, and now I look for quality. I’m definitely an outfit repeater too. On my personal Instagram, you’ll probably see the same dress, but when I was younger I would have been conscious about that. Now I’m like proud to be restyling and rewearing the same clothing.
Esme Dress, £110 – buy from 02.07
Florence Dress, £110 – buy from 02.07
Isabelle Top, £74 – buy from 02.07
Honor Dress, £110 – buy from 02.07
Mabel Top, £84 – buy from 02.07
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