Elysia Graace

This week we caught up with up and coming fashion blogger Elysia Graace for an interview about her work as a blogger and her future aspirations.

Tell me a little bit about yourself…

I’m a fashion blogger from the West Midlands, so I get mistaken for a Brummie a lot of the time, but actually residing in Manchester at the moment whilst studying at University. I’m currently studying Business and Marketing which I love to bits as you get leeway on all of the creative marketing campaign projects.

Explain the concept and purpose of your work…

When I stated my blog, my aim was to show people the occasional outfit of the day, but most of all how to style old and new together. I buy a lot from vintage and charity shops so mixing those styles with new trends can be tricky sometimes!

How and why did you get into fashion?

My first love for fashion was whilst I was studying my A levels and had to create custom pieces myself for a collection towards my end grade, after this I knew I wanted to do something that would put my mind at a creative edge. I love marketing and combing the two is my idea of perfect (education lifestyle talking).

Who inspires you the most?

Apart from the bloggers, companies and people I have met throughout my journey as a blogger, I know it sounds cliché but my father inspires me a lot, just in the way of how had working he is and his morals with work life. I recently went to work for Motel Rocks in London for a few days helping out with their sample sale, and the people I met there were so inspirational, how much dedication goes into what people think is just sorting clothes out is unreal.

Which fashion blogger would you compare your blog most to?

There are many fashion bloggers that do the same as me, some popular ones are ‘Fashion Influx’ and ‘Waiste’… featuring outfits of the day and pieces they’ve been sent by companies to feature on their blog (something that I am striving for!).

What is your favourite blog article to date?

My personal favourite blog post is from last summer, when I first stated blogging, featuring my Saltwater Gypsy vintage Harley Davidson leather vest… purely because it reminds me of the fun day me and my sister had shooting this and the waistcoat and boots I’m wearing are 2 of my favourite pieces! Plus it was in the middle of a super hot heat wave! Which we can never moan about. 

What is your favourite brand of clothing to wear?

I do love my vintage and charity shop pieces, because of the reaction I get when people find out that they’re actually from a charity shop etc. So I am a sucker for second hand, however, I do absolutely love Zara and Motel Rocks, the prints and uniqueness of motel rocks and the classy sleekness of Zara…

What are your aspirations and goals for the future?

In the future I would like to have my blog at a place where it has a reach of thousands, like some of the blogs I follow, so I can inspire a lot more readers daily; getting involved in many more blogger related and fashion events also. I’m going to continue working for companies to gain experience and network within my favourite brands so I can hopefully combine marketing and fashion for my ideal and desired career once I have graduated from University. I have a tiny little desire to open my own vintage and custom clothing company too with family and friends help, so this is a back seat aspiration at the moment! Fingers crossed.

To follow Elysia check out her Blog, Facebook, TwitterTumblr or Instagram

Loela

Having lived in Manchester for nearly four years now, I have become quite attached to it and, therefore, become irrationally excited when genuine emerging talents come from my adopted city. Founded in 2010 and based in Manchester, Loela is a womenswear label set up by fashion graduate Laura Baker that is set to go big places in 2014 and beyond.

When I first looked at Loela’s collection, I saw the aesthetic as the embodiment of Lolita in the 21st century. Rustic hand-made pieces are juxtaposed with futuristic woven prints, also done by hand, that create a look that successfully stays the right side of feminine and delicate. Styling long hems with clumpy boots, there is a country-girl vibe at work that is simple and earthy but at the same time incredibly stylish and covetable.

For such a young designer, Baker has created a line that is incredibly mature. In a world that is obsessed with fast fashion and trends that have the longevity of only a few months, she is proving that she is not a fad and that real style should be able to transcend each catwalk season. Producing unique pieces of quality with an inimitable Loela stamp, the line is affordable, cutting edge and deeply personal.

Shop Loela on the website and at the Asos Marketplace.

Follow Loela and find out more on Facebook and on Pinterest.

Denai Moore

On 24th January, I began my gig year at Manchester Cathedral with Irish folk musician James Vincent McMorrow, by far one of the best artists around at the moment. As well as being an incredible musician and a generally funny and endearing guy, he has a knack for picking great support acts. I saw him in London at Royal Festival Hall two years ago, where we were treated to Agnes Obel, a stunning songwriter from Denmark whose haunting voice and rural inspired lyrics captured the imagination and stayed with you long after the set had finished. This time, McMorrow had selected Londoner Denai Moore, someone, he claimed, who had seriously impressed him.

It was easy to see why. Moore came onstage very humble and modest but unleashed an incredibly powerful voice, performing a string of songs infused with folk melodies. For such a newcomer to the music scene, she was self-assured and confident, allowing her voice to fill and ring about the high vaulted ceilings of the cathedral. ‘The Lake’, the title track to her second EP, which she has previously performed on Later With Jools Holland  was particularly gorgeous. You could clearly see the influence of Bon Iver and Radiohead, however Moore sets herself apart from the rest by combining folk music with her remarkably soulful voice.

Her track ‘Gone’, however, is the absolute clincher that convinced me that Moore is set for big things. Performed only with a piano, it’s a heart-wrenching song about the mess left after a break-up that I think most people can relate to. The simplicity of the piano and the painfully honest lyrics like ‘I never know who to look for to try and fill your place / Cause I never thought that I would have to’ surely give the likes of Adele a run for their money in the muted desperation and devastation they imply about getting used to being alone.

In addition to James Vincent McMorrow, Moore has caught the attention of Band of Horses, who heard her cover of their song ‘Pt. One’ and recorded their own acoustic version. Laura Marling has been at the forefront of female folk for a long time, and I think Denai Moore is a welcome addition to this particularly male dominated area of music. With an album in the pipeline, I’m so excited to see where this incredible down-to-earth talent is headed.

Find out more about Denai Moore and her up-coming tour dates from her website, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, TumblrSoundcloud.

Eastie Empire

In majority of my entries I tend to focus on recent art school graduates, high fashion designers who have just entered this big and competitive industry and sometimes have not yet produced any clothes that a fashion lover can buy.  This time, I am more than delighted to write a few words about a brand with a wide range of beautiful clothes available to buy and love.  Hope you are as excited as I am, because your wallets will not be! (At least mine, hey, I’m on a student budget!)

 Eastie Empire is a creation of Sara Weston, a self-taught designer with a love for vintage menswear. Echoes of her personal style and passion for every tiny detail, cut and piece of fabric can be seen in each garments she creates with all of the items and fabrics sourced and made in England. Designed in London, Eastie Empire’s clothes are also heavily inspired by the trip to India taken by Sara a couple years ago – the charm and elegance of old-fashioned East struck the designer so much she decided to incorporate this part of the world into her brand’s name.

The fun fact? Eastie Empire is all about menswear… made for women! Sara’s designs blur gender boundaries and can be worn by anyone. Unique and worn by individualities, yet for all – sounds like a philosopy every fashion brand should follow and the vision of fashion of the future.

As a girl spending approximately 6 out of 7 days a week wearing an item from her boyfriend’s wardrobe, I am all in. As a fashion journalism student – even more!

Vist Eastie Empire’s store here.

Bill + Mar

Founded in 2010, Rosie Bonnar is the designer behind the innovative brand Bill + Mar (named after Rosie’s grandparents, Bill and Marian); who creates “unique designs for fun, fashion forward gals”.

After an inspirational year in Sydney surrounded by beautiful scenery, young and creative talent and immeasurable amounts of positive energy, Rosie returned to London with the motivation to launch her own directional fashion label.

Bill + Mar does not conform to regulations and is not afraid to deviate from mainstream trends. Its mix of fabrics, prints and textures make it stand out from the crowd. It is about creating a unique personal wardrobe with a focus on silhouette to best flatter figures.

Keen to gain a relationship with customers, the ‘show off’ section on Bill + Mar’s website allows customers to upload pictures of themselves in their new Bill + Mar clothing for everyone to see.  The brand is also gaining a following with celebrities too, with both Eliza Doolittle and Kimberley Walsh spotted out and about in their pieces.

‘Edgy and unique’ is a term that I would use to sum up Bill + Mar’s collection; and with products selling out fast, you’ll have to act quick if you want to get your hands on it!

To have a look at Bill + Mar’s offerings, head to their website; or check out their Facebook  and Twitter.

By The Rivers

By the Rivers are about to embark on their acoustic tour. It was in their acoustic set up that I first unearthed By the Rivers. I stumbled across them on YouTube, where SB TV had caught them at Alexandra Palace. They performed an acoustic version of ‘Where You Gonna Go’ in an A64 session. I was hooked, a cliché I know but, I hadn’t heard anything like it. By the Rivers contemporary twist on Reggae cannot be ignored.  Members Nile Barrow and Jordan Birtles from Leicester formed the six piece in 2010 and have been friends since early childhood. Their catchy melodies and insightful lyrics echo issues that affect their youthful generation. ‘… when they’re coming after you? They don’t need evidence, they don’t need proof’, the social comment made parallels that of a favourite band of mine, super group Mongrel.  I couldn’t leave it there.

Immediately I wanted more, however my searches were running dry, the top result Boney M’s Rivers of Babylon.  With limited material available online – I needed to see this band live. When I finally got hold of a ticket I was rattled with excitement to what ‘new to me’ material I may hear.  It was a long wait but I got by on the One Word Single featured on Spotify which contained B-Side Take Control.

My first By the Rivers gig could not have been in a more perfect setting at a more perfect time. I’d just finished my A Levels, two years of slog, hard slog, over. I was lost I didn’t know what to do with time. DBE were hosting an End of Exam party across two venues. One of these being my favourite bar in the Midlands, The Orange Tree, it was here I completely shook off my two years of schooling. I’d never seen the Orange Tree more livelily – it was full to capacity. The energy and enthusiasm that By the Rivers bought to the town was like nothing before. The six piece filled the stage, the eye contact made between themselves and the audience was evidence that they couldn’t be enjoying their performance more.

Over the past two years Boney M’s hit has now been pushed to the bottom of the search page. YouTube is a now flood of By the Rivers singles, sessions and festival highlights and on Spotify you can stream their self-titled debut album. The band achieving success in reaching a top spot in BBC East Midlands Introducing’s ‘Countdown of Most Played Artists 2013’ and through recognition from reggae pioneer David Rodigan.

Their UK acoustic tour begins in Nottingham this February going on to Bristol, Hay on Wye, Loughborough, Norwich and Leicester. You can also catch them in Sheffield and Birmingham supporting The Selecter on their 35 year anniversary tour. Can’t wait till then? You can download the acoustic track ‘Board that Train’  for free now.

Tom J Newell

Having lived in Camden Town my whole life, moving to Sheffield to study was a strange experience. It can be hard balancing a life in two cities, one wishes that there were something you could bring with you to both places. Imagine my delight when I discovered the striking similarity between the dark yet fascinating cartoons I was used to seeing on the side of the Unicorn Pub down the road from me in Camden and the equally beautiful and twisted work on the walls and in the burger menus within The Harley, Sheffield.

The man responsible for these home comforts (and the beautiful artwork) is artist and illustrator Tom J Newell. Raised in Chesterfield, Tom J Newell has worked on all kinds of projects. Aside his fabulous wall murals he also produces paintings, comics, posters and all things in between. Born and raised in Chesterfield, he has now moved to Sheffield a five year stint in London, working closer to home in a city that is bursting with creativity.

Tom’s inspiration seems to spring from all over the place, which perhaps is what makes his work so unique. Taking influences from the Beano and Dandy as a child, he began drawing comic book characters, and was further influenced by video games and graffiti as he grew older.

Moonlighting as a DJ, its not just the visual that keeps his creative juices flowing. He also takes a lot of inspiration from music and literature. “Music and musicians inspire my artwork just as much as visual sources” he says, “I approach the construction of a new image by manipulating existing imagery”.

It’s not hard to see that Tom is a forced to be reckoned with, his illustrations alone have had something of a viral effect already. His artwork is splattered across the menus of the Twisted Burger Company, Kraken Rum and all over the walls of bars, tattoo studios and galleries.

What’s more, despite significant grounds for arrogance, Tom J Newell strikes me first and foremost as a a wholeheartedly Decent Guy. Won’t take my word for it? Ask Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where he ran workshops in 2010 “That was another great excuse to get out of the studio,” he told me “and seeing the approach that kids have towards drawing is always inspiring.”

Still working in his studio developing old doodles that he did in school and having his work put up all over sheffield and beyond, Mr. Newell is a fireball of compassion, talent and ultimately an unrestrained creativity. His imaginative, sometimes slightly unhinging illustrations are impossible to forget.

Curious? Visit TomJNewell.com.

Amber Run

Amber run is a five piece indie-rock band based in Nottingham. The boys first caught people’s attention when they uploaded their melodic cover of Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ to the internet. Since then, though, they’ve exceeded all expectations with their original songs, despite only having been playing for just over a year. The catchy yet captivatingly haunting track ‘Noah’ caught the eyes and ears of yet more music fans, leading to their becoming increasingly popular on the local scene.

My first encounter with the band was at Sheffield venue The Harley, where they shone bright playing songs from their self released EP ‘Heaven’ (first released under the band name ‘Amber’) and new songs from an upcoming EP, which they hope to release this year. But I was late to the game; the band had already played Reading and Leeds on the BBC’s Introducing stage having captured the heart of BBC presenter Dean Jackson who’d listened to the tracks the band had uploaded on BBC Introducing.

Amber run fit right into an increasingly popular brand of indie music, combining the melodic harmonies that brought Mumford and Sons into the spotlight with catchy indie rock we all know and love. But that’s not all that makes them special – what’s sets them apart for me is the poetic nature of their lyrics which are dripping with a gritty kind of honesty that one rarely comes across in today’s sex-and-drugs fueled music scene.

The band have recently played in London and will be supporting Irish indie rockers Kodaline on their sold out UK tour.

You can listen to their stuff here.