Isolated Heroes amongst friends, in Scotland
Samantha McEwen is a young Scottish designer with a massive personality, talent and work ethic to match. Her fashion label Isolated Heroes, is an outstanding kaleidoscope of colours, textures and prints. Isolated Heroes is predominately a unisex label with a unique kind of persona and instantly recognisable appeal. It is sometimes described as “optimistic clothing” and with customers coming from far and wide to own a piece of the Isolated Heroes dreamland collections, what could be described as ‘cult like’ following. The forthcoming collection is set to be even louder with a broad colour palette.
McEwen’s success, since the launch of Isolated Heroes in late 2010 is unimaginable and with the drive this girl has, things can only be looking up.
How did it feel being nominated as Scottish Young Designer of the year 2012?
It felt really good to know that the Scottish fashion industry noticed me.
I think it’s great that such events support young designers and brings together lots of different people with different backgrounds.
Isolated Heroes must keep you very busy. How do you keep on top of the workload?
I just work hard! I work all the time – I basically don’t have a life! Daytimes, I focus on designing and sewing, I’m in at 9am every day and I try to finish at 5 or 6. Then I go home and I do press work, emails and Photoshop. I recently moved to a new studio at WASPS Dundee, everyone in the building is really creative and very motivated.
What goes into the process from initial ideas to selling a garment?
So much! I get so heavily into my research. The process for me is a massive thing, I start with one idea and I write a sort of collection proposal to myself then it spurs off of that. With the upcoming collection I started looking at old Russian tales there was just so much visually, in fabrics and textures, in these stories I started to imagine using all these metallics and plastics and it got me into thinking heavily about fabric samples. Designing a new collection is so precious to me.
Who would you say the Isolated Heroes customer is?
People who are really independent and like to express themselves; they are not worried about what other people think of them. Two notable Isolated Heroes customers are Agatha Frank – a massive character and Joey Ma who just bought a whole chunk of the collection which was great as he is really influential in Hong Kong. Everything I have on my fashion wish list Joey Ma has in his wardrobe, so seeing him in my designs is amazing because he is just this big crazy outward character who doesn’t care what people think.
What’s the main reason for you to be based in Dundee, Scotland?
All the way through university, I was really determined that I was going to do my own thing. The people I worked with in the industry encouraged me to go for it. I knew I just needed a space to produce my work and it made sense to live at home and use my money to design. I have a lot of respect for the city of Dundee and for Scotland; it’s home and because my family and friends are close, it’s easier to work here.
What is unique about your brand as a Scottish brand?
I think Isolated Heroes is really different from every other designer and brand in Scotland. I think you can work in Scotland and be as out there, as forward thinking as any Berlin, Paris or Hong Kong based designer. Because you’re based in Scotland does not mean your models must wear kilts and carry haggis down the runway.
What in your opinion makes Scotland a unique fashion hub?
The close-knit community here, people are really supportive of each other. This you wouldn’t get anywhere else. I think it’s crazy that there are people like Tessa Hartman here to help you. There’s something about Scottish people, they are very welcoming, warm and friendly.
What does the future hold for Isolated Heroes?
The next few months look to be insane. Mainly we are trying to get the brand out there and gain exposure. We have done so well in the first year; we are on Asos and have gained a huge platform of contacts. Next week we are sending garments to the Rita Ora and Iggy Azalea tour, its great getting this publicity!
Samantha McEwen was interviewed by Abigail Donaldson during the first half of 2013 for a project between Heriot Watt University and Modeconnect