In conversation with Katie Eary, it is easy to see that she is just as, if not more, audacious than her riotous collections. Characterised by an unabashed charisma and a snappy wit, Katie Eary ushers in a new kind of menswear — one that is reinvented through a cheeky mix of bold prints and the perfectly executed silk shirt.
Whereas the London menswear scene has transformed, almost irrevocably, in the last few years; Katie Eary has been along for the ride since the very beginning. Jumping off from her stellar graduate collection, immediately picked up by the likes of Mario Testino. Since then, there has been nowhere to go but up — yet Katie Eary remains resolutely grounded, as she firmly embraces the subcultures that have made her one of the most exciting menswear designers in the game.
How did you fall in love with menswear?
I took a degree in menswear, as the womenswear course was already at full capacity. It was like the consolation prize! At least, in the way it was offered to me. However, I soon fell in love with menswear thanks to designers like Raf Simons and H. S. It was the era of white, red, and black tailoring, Dior was at an all-time high — and I was buzzing for it.
What was it like having the legendary Mario Testino shoot one of your pieces right after graduating from the Royal College of Art?
I studied at the RCA for two years and it was always exciting to see the new grads get press in Dazed, ID, etc. It was always something I’d dreamt of, while working towards my final collection. I think Vogue was so far beyond what I had expected, that I can’t really explain how it made me feel. It was the most amazing thing! When the issue came out in September, I felt so excited to buy it I actually had a rush of adrenalin.
In what ways do the men in your life inspire your design aesthetic?
I have three brothers — all of them are completely different, but I definitely appreciate getting their opinions on everything I do. My best friend is also a guy whose opinion means the world to me, so I’m always turning to him for advice. My skate bros always inspire me. I love seeing what they are into at that moment – be it brands, music, and even women. It’s important to have a muse in order to understand for whom you are designing for.
What is it like being a female menswear designer? How do you think being a woman influences your outlook into the menswear fashion industry?
I honestly think it makes no difference at all. Other than the question “You’re a woman, why menswear?”
How would you say menswear has changed since you first launched your eponymous brand?
It has certainly been opened up in a “everyone and anyone can do it” kind of way; and that is definitely a good thing. Creativity has opened up and there is less fear. In another way, it’s also bad, as the market is completely over-saturated. While I hail optimism and enthusiasm, the sheer amount of ‘designers’ creating success with Instagram, without a degree or clue of what they are doing, can be quite insulting to the hard grafters from my age range who had to fight tooth and nail to get a reputation. I guess if you were around before social media, you will be around long after it diminishes.
In what ways do you think women like yourself are making waves in menswear?
The people I have worked with and the companies I consult for, are certainly something I am very proud of. I work in a very different way to other designers. Everyone has their own idea of what making waves may be. For me, stockists and social media are not the be-all and end-all of my brand. I want to work with amazing people and just be creative, that to me is my way of making waves.
I guess it’s just the way it’s worked out. I’m not sure I have made more waves than the likes of a male menswear designer. I try to keep my tits out of it to be honest. If anything, it empowers other women to see that there are no limits to what you can do. BUT I do have to say and I’ve always said it, I’m sure if I had a dick I would be a lot further than I am now. Most women are afraid to say it, but it’s true.
Words: Hannah Tan