This FAC Focus brings attention to Sophie Murphy. An aspiring streetwear designer who hasn't gone the typical route through art college in the pursuit of her dream.
You are an aspiring fashion designer, why did you chose to go to a private college in Grafton Academy rather than go the NCAD route like the majority of people?
I never studied art for my leaving cert so going to NCAD was never an option for me. I done a Fashion Design PLC course in Sallynoggin as I was unsure as to whether I wanted to do styling or fashion design. I did not want to commit to a degree course in something I genuinely did not enjoy. Thankfully though I quickly learned that sewing was definitely all I wanted to do. While I was there I had heard about the Grafton Academy and how they really focus on the skill side of design in terms of pattern drafting. I am not the most artistic person, for example I cannot draw, so other art colleges that seem more artsy never appealed to me.
What got you interested in fashion?
I actually don’t know! Most people would say that growing up they always knew they wanted to study fashion etc but I didn’t. When I was 16 I got my first sewing machine and always just played around with it, eventually started making garments. My mam always sewed and my aunt owns an alterations centre, so sewing was something I was quite familiar with. I think at the beginning I saw it as a hobby and then realised that I could go further with it.
You seem to have an interest in commercial/streetwear fashion over typical fashion design? Why is this? Do you relate to that more as a designer?
I think I have more of an interest in designing streetwear as it is how I like to dress. Whenever I’m designing I always try make something that I would like to wear myself. I don't think I would ever make something that I couldn't see myself wearing. I hate things that aren’t practical, that you couldn't just wear on a normal day.
Whats your opinion on hypebeasts out of interest?
Personally, I am not a fan of the whole hype scene. Although I wear Supreme & other hyped brands I never really considered myself as a hypebeast. It’s hard to find cool brands that have t-shirts like Supreme ones in womenswear. I think hypebeasts are starting to take over now, people are just wearing things because of the label rather than because they actually like them. The sense of originality is gone. I will admit though, Supreme’s marketing technique is genius.
Are you into menswear or women’s wear more?
I go through phases of loving really girly things but in the end I always come back to menswear. I like to think of most clothes as unisex. I am the biggest fan of anything oversized & boxy. I think a lot of my designs are quite boyish, so then I play around with fabrics by mixing pinks with more harsh colours like khaki green or even camo print, bringing in a masculine and feminine feel.
Who would be your influences because of this?
I love a lot of Korean brands like Cres.E.Dim and especially Ader Eder. Their stuff is all unisex and just beyond cool. I think Instagram is great for finding designers outside of Europe who are doing amazing things. I would rather browse through Instagram & find random designers than watch a runway show. I do love Gosha and Vetements though. Caitlin Price & Christopher Shannon are also two designers that I am obsessed with.
From looking at your insta, I see you are more into American fashion than European. Why is this? Do you see yourself in New York in the future?
Lately I have a new obsession with how a typical ‘American Dad’ would dress. I just find it so cool, like a straight leg jean, tee tucked in & chunky runners. Looks so effortlessly cool. The whole hip hop New York scene is something I love, lots of gold jewellery makes an outfit. New York is the ultimate dream!! I think there are so many opportunities for fashion over there compared to anywhere else in the world. If I win the lotto anytime soon it is 100% where I would move to straight away.
Skating and Hip-Hop seem to be your main influences from the surface, why is this? Do you relate to these cultures more?
When I was younger I was such a tomboy. So growing up these were things that always interested me. I used to wear combats with a pair of Nike Dunks or Blazers. So now I’m just playing around with that kinda style trying to put a girly twist on it. I feel like people always associate the hip/hop & skating scenes with boys which is something that always stood out to me and probably what has influenced me the most. I don’t like to step outside my comfort zone much, and this culture is one I feel like I grew up around.
What do you see as your future in design? Would you start out with your own label or look to an internship?
Starting up my own label is something that I hope will happen some day. That is definitely my main aim, I would rather start up something at the right time though than rush into it too soon and maybe failing. At the minute I have no time at all with college as I am in my final year so I know I would not be able to give a clothing line my everything and it would be pushed aside. I have interned with Simone Rocha which has definitely taught me so much. I would look at doing more internships possibly in London to gain more knowledge. It is amazing how much you learn when it is real life practice.
Is this possible here for you?
I would like to think it would be possible for me to start up a brand here as there are so few Irish designers starting up their brands within Ireland. Realistically, I think for the style of clothing I would be planning on making there would be more of a market in places outside Ireland.
What do you think of Dublin style? I reckon Ireland well specifically Dublin is getting more into fashion and what personal style represents.
I do think Dublin is starting to grow in terms of style. It has definitely become more popular in the past year. Even down to how many hypebeasts there are in Dublin at the minute. The likes of the Off Spring concession in Brown Thomas is showing how Dublin is moving forward, but I still don't think it will ever be seen as a cool city like other places. There is a huge lack of smaller independent stores selling unusual brands & willing to stock young designers.
Expression is key in fashion, especially street fashion. What do you think you can add differently to it?
I think the main niche in street fashion is a girly element. I myself find it so hard to shop, I have a certain style that I like but it is tough to find as the smallest size in mens is too big for me and I don’t necessarily always want to feel as though I am wearing mens clothing. Through Instagram I discovered other females with a similar style and they would be my target market. I feel there is really a market out there for a girlier twist on streetwear.
Do you think you can tell a lot about people by their clothing choices? It is pretty much the purest form of expression. People definitely judge you based on your clothing style and a lot of people will talk or not talk to you based on this. What do you think?
I do think people judge you based on how you are dressed but it is not something I try not to get caught up in. I think it’s wrong to judge someones personality through their way of dressing as some people genuinely have no interest in fashion. To be fair though, if I saw somebody dressed really well I would straight away think to myself that they must be cool without even knowing them. Have to give credit for a good outfit! haha
How does this influence you as a designer?
It helps me as a designer see who would be interested in wearing the stuff that I design. I understand that my designs are for a person with a certain type of style so it makes them easier to pick out.
Since you work out of Dublin how does this influence you? Do you find it harder to get your influences on the streets as you would in say, London, New York or Tokyo?
I always looked to the internet to influence me in the past, but recently I have been influenced more from what is around me on a day to day basis. I personally don't feel it really matters where you are, it think it is more to do with the way your mind and eyes work. My latest research for college starting with looking at council flats & different classes of people and lifestyles. This was all heavily influenced by Dublin, but the exact same situations are going on in places like London etc too. It is good to get to see other places, as you will find different aspects that will influence you everywhere, for example, I went to Tokyo & Seoul last year and a lot of my work recently does relate back to that trip. Especially the colours I use. Over there everything is pink & green, just like majority of my garments.
What do you think of Dublin, is your future here or elsewhere?
I would love to think that my future is here, I think if the fashion industry in Ireland continues to grow there may be more and more opportunities which would encourage me to stay. I would initially like to start up a brand in Dublin but the reality is that it may not do as well as it could in other big cities like London. I do feel though to get really good experience with other designers it is necessary to move away because fashion designers are one thing Dublin is lacking and I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
14th November 2017