5 Minutes With...Sophie Darling

by Emma Foreman

Sophie Darling is a specialist scarf designer and British manufacturer of high-end luxury investment pieces. Her ethos is to make wearable art in small runs applying her contemporary print aesthetic to luxurious fabrics though experimental and traditional print techniques. We spoke to Sophie to find out more about the brand....

How did Sophie Darling begin? 

A friend suggested I create a collection of prints and since I’d always been a print designer, it was a natural progression following the birth of my son and daughter. I was fortunate enough to have a print studio at my workshop and I had been looking for a sustainable way of working, developing my love of print and raising my children at the same time. Scarves seemed like the ideal blank canvas for me to interpret my collection of drawings, and thus Sophie Darling was born.

I started Sophie Darling in 2013 after leaving my role as a design director for an agency in London. Prior to this I ran an acclaimed handbag company, ‘Kimchi’ accessories- globally renowned and stocked in Liberty’s, Japan, New York and Australia amongst others. I’ve also worked in fashion, interiors, and as a lecturer in print.

Have you always been interested in fashion?

My heart has always lain in the arms of fashion, but what I love most is how fashion translates across so many mediums, be it interiors, the fine arts or architecture. Fashions truth lies in how a person translates a style into the every day and interprets it into their wardrobe.

What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far?

The highest is the overwhelming response and incredible feedback I always get about my work. The lowest if I am truthful is the unending push that running your own label takes and the sacrifices that have to be made in order to make it succeed.

What was the inspiration behind your latest collection?

Inspiration this season ranges from folksy tribal, to bold geometrics colliding artisanal silkscreen print techniques with fine wools and luxurious silks. I used signature metallic foils to add a point of difference and lux. I want people to realise that all my work is hand printed and each piece is a thing of beauty made individually.

Do you ever struggle to stay inspired?

Never. It’s a question of getting out there all the time and translating the mundane to the beautiful.

Where is your go-to meeting spot?

My studio. I love the space- it’s where great things happen and I work with such an incredible team we are always bouncing ideas off one another. But otherwise it’s at White Space on Great Newport street. It’s a fantastic white space and great for blank canvas thinking and client facing.

How would you describe your customer base?

Fabulous and all ‘Darlings’- of course. No, really- my customer base is probably mid twenties right through to 60+. My collections offer unique stand out designs, which transcend age.

Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs?

I would love to see my work across the shoulders of Natasha Kahn of Bat for Lashes she has such a great style on stage as a singer, Drew Barrymore for her quirkiness or Angelina Jolie for her positive message to women.

What are the morals you run your brand by?

Sustainable luxury and slow fashion are 2 key phrases by which I run my business. None of my pieces with Wolf & Badger are factory made, I hand print everything and actively aspire to keep production local. My ideals are to reduce waste producing limited numbers of pieces and working with a made to order philosophy for as many pieces as possible. I like to support British manufacturing and am lucky enough to be able to use resources available to me locally.

Do you have a mentor?

Yes, Emily Chalmers at Caravan Style, she is not only a key mentor in my business but is also a very good friend one whom I could not do without.

What apps keep you sane?

None I am insane, but if you must ask- Instagram, Pantone, Adobe, Pinterest and Snapseed. I spend a lot of time taking photos, which I manipulate, overlay and experiment with. I use Pantone to develop colour palettes and mood boards.

If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why?

The Goldie Wrap Scarf- It rocks, its print is so different and unique from so many of the current collections. I love it for its versatility, modernity and glamour. I use one as the perfect compliment to travel- it keeps me warm or acts as a blanket across a bed or a fabulous belted long line skirt.

What’s the biggest style mistake you’ve ever made?

Definitely a phase back in my late teens; a yellow and pink gilet with paint daubed trousers. On trend right now of course- terrible back then!

Is there another designer whose work you particularly admire?

Gosh loads- Peter Pilotto, Stella McCartney, Eley Kishimoto, Dries Van Noten, Hussein Chalayan, Maison Martin Margiella to name but a few.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Keep it simple.

What drew you to Wolf & Badger?

High quality locations and website with lovely people behind the scenes.

Where do you see the brand in 5 years?

On the moon- Mars possible- depending on Richard Branson picking up the brand obs. But failing that, my aim is to be in key outlets globally, ones that work with artisans and promote British design and global seal of quality it denotes. My aim is not mass but ocused distribution with high-end retailers- Space Ninety 8 in NYC and Liberty’s of London for example. I am also planning to extend my collection into homewares and interiors pieces.


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