The fashion industry is notorious for being a dog eat dog world in which you’re expected to step on and over anyone you can (preferably in a pair of Louboutin’s) to get to the top. But Cleo Forstater, the founder of Clee Clothing brand, isn’t stepping on anyone on her way to the top; in fact she’s inviting them along for the ride. By showcasing other up and coming brands alongside her own clothing range at ‘The Rebirth Launch’ Cleo is building a fashionable human pyramid to help elevate her brand. A feeling of collaboration was in the air throughout the night and it brought warmth to the proceedings which are often absent at most fashion events.
As I had to go straight to the event from my day job I was feeling somewhat underdressed compared to the contemporarily stylish crowd but it wasn’t long before I was put at ease by the friendliness of everyone I spoke to. And I spoke to a lot of people, from other designers, to performers and even Cleo’s Mum! The event was held at Rich Mix in Shoreditch, a perfect backdrop for such a vibrant event, which was provided by somewhereto.com who help 16-25 year olds obtain spaces for free. The venue was set up as a market place with quirky activities like speed dating happening around the room and on stage there was a fashion show followed by various performances. The interactive elements of the event were further examples of Cleo’s creative and personalised approach to the promotion of her brand.
Cleo’s personalised approach to fashion was also evident when talking to the people at the event, who were all there to support her and often spoke of the ways in which she had supported them. Jo, Cleo’s Mum, could barely contain her sense of pride in her daughter as she told me how she had watched Cleo become interested in fashion from a young age, customising second hand clothes in her early teens.
Just before the night got into full swing I managed to ask Cleo herself, about her brand and its evolution:
How did Clee Clothing get started?
I started three years ago when I was 16, I didn’t know what I was doing, so I tried to do what I thought people would like but I wasn’t happy with the direction I was going in. Which is why this is a ‘rebirth’ of the clothing line.
So what changes did you make?
I decided to take it back to basics, to base the brand around me and my personality. I wanted to make it less about success in the ‘normal sense’ and more about personal growth.
How do you feel you fit into the fashion industry?
Before a lot of people asked me about how much money I was making and I found it difficult to answer. Now I feel comfortable about not being in it just to make money. You can’t put a price on the amount I’ve learnt and all without conventional training.
What makes Clee Clothing different from other brands?
A lot of UK brands only print their designs onto pre-made pieces that they have bought; I sew the clothes myself as well as printing my designs onto them. When an item is handmade it gives a personal touch to the design.
What direction do you see your brand going in?
Direction is free. I don’t want to pre-destine where the brand is going, I want to see where it goes naturally.
Clee Clothing is not a fully formed brand as of yet, but Cleo is definitely heading in the right direction, my personal favourite piece of the collection was the tee and jumper with a heart in a pocket design. Wherever Clee Clothing and Cleo herself end up she will undoubtedly be surrounded by friends, knowing that she has stayed true to her personal ideals.
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W| By Zoe Leadley-Watkins I| Images 1,2,4 and 5-taken by Zoe Leadley-Watkins, header image courtesy of Clee Clothing