Your new fashion icon: Sarah Gamble

York alumna Sarah Gamble speaks to about her booming ethical-fashion business, Adorned

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Image: Sarah Gamble

Hi Sarah! First things first, where did the idea for Adorned come from?
Hi there! Well, it sort of just happened… during my first year of uni I embroidered a denim shirt with a stag head and got a load of compliments on it. So, my mum suggested that I make a few pieces for a market stall she was hosting just to clear out some old jumble. I’d also been making jewellery since I was a kid thanks to her, so made a few pieces. After a couple of stalls, we started to get some really good feedback, so I started making more, selling more, and it’s just been growing. I never actually intended to do this – I always thought I’d just do a bit of art in my spare time!

You studied Psychology at university – what made you change your career path to fashion design? Do you link them both in any way?
I did psychology because I think I needed the academic stimulation as I wasn’t quite through with studying! Honestly I’d never known what I wanted to ‘be’ when I grew up, but I’ve always loved and been good at art. Psychology has definitely given me some transferable skills that are useful to Adorned, like the ability to be critical and also to present myself and ideas clearly. But in short, I wouldn’t say the two have a great deal of overlap!

Adorned is becoming extremely popular with both students and customers abroad, what’s the next step for the brand?
[Laughs] At the moment I’m just trying to keep it all up! As we specialise in mostly one-off pieces, as soon as one item sells it needs to be replaced with another, especially online. We are also currently expanding the homeware section to include some gorgeous sparkly elephant pieces, recycled and thrifted ornaments and handmade cushion covers as well as our b-e-a-uuutiful Fairtrade throws. This summer though will see us travel to sell at a few local festivals, more than we have done before! We’ll be returning to Festival of Thrift in Darlington, which is an amazing weekend. We’ll also hopefully be at Splendour in Nottingham, our hometown. As soon as I learn to drive we’ll be able to travel to more vintage fairs – but I’m a bit scared to learn to drive, I’ll be honest.

Image: Sarah Gamble

Image: Sarah Gamble

Your brand represents ‘upcycled’ and ethical goods, is this something you feel more brands should try to replicate?
Definitely! Of course not all brands, especially those who deal in mass-produced goods, can strive to be upcycling, but all brands should really aim to be ethical in their practices. There are so many industries out there who exploit the third world for their own gain, and fashion is no exception. But it’s also down to the customers – question your favourite brands. Who made your clothes? In buying from your favourite high street store are you contributing to child labour in India? For those who are willing, take a little look at the Fashion Revolution going on right now (you can google it).

If you could design a collection for anyone who would it be and why?
Oooh, my favourite boho brand of all time are Spell & the Gypsy Collective. They just ooze femininity and their prints are to die for. I have also always been a big fan of Monsoon and Accessorize as there’s always so much beading and intricate embroidery in their pieces. However, above all I’d want to work with a brand who are ethical in their practices, so I will have to get back to you for a definitive answer.

What advice can you give to students looking to go into design and marketing?
If you’re wanting to set your own business up, be prepared to put a lot of effort in! You have to learn to be a good all-rounder especially if you’re going solo. Look for places that do free business courses as well as platforms to sell on!

Visit the Adorned website here.
Check out the fashion team’s Adorned shoot here.

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