I released Reflections, a capsule collection of more casual silhouettes and heavily appliqued brights, featuring a combination of nature and fantasy-inspired motifs.
With the stalls and the selling came requests for menswear. So many that I thought it might actually be worth creating a collection. Thus 2013 saw the creation of Eustratia’s first and only complete menswear collection (I still make menswear but only to order).
I was pleased with the shapes for the menswear collection but the orders just weren’t there and I eventually decided to remove it from my website.
As the New Year started, I couldn’t help feeling like things could have gone better but I pushed the feeling down and concentrated on the excitement of becoming a home-owner and finally having the space and freedom to create my own photography sets.
I came up with my next balanced collection, aptly named Persephone. It consisted of three light and three dark looks. This was my first lingerie-heavy collection and a lot of the shapes I used to develop the patterns are still used in my Core collection today.
Within a few weeks, I had finished my Eustratia S/S 14 collection, a mix of more wearable pastel-coloured garments and 3-D flower-covered showpieces, and shot it in my new studio.
I created a backdrop of oversized cardboard flowers, which I spent a few days putting together and arranging on the board. It was liberating to finally be able to use backdrops that could be created in stages and didn’t have to be put away.
The images from this shoot were particularly well-received for a time when I didn’t have much social media reach, and I was extremely happy with the results.
I celebrated three years of trading with an open house event where models and friends could socialise and learn about the brand while trying on latex from all past collections.
LatexfashionTV covered the event and produced a fun video (included here) that included models having a pillow fight on my four poster bed!
My S/S 14 collection was also showcased at Manchester Fashion Week and the Vau Vau fashion show in Leeds, where we erected a large doll’s house-style backdrop for the models to walk through.
I particularly enjoyed the props in this show, which included bird cages full of fairy lights, suspended from poles.
Although this was a busy time for me and the brand, I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was helping me achieve my goals. Actually I wasn’t sure exactly what those goals were any more.
I had started attending London Fashion Week, which I had hoped would give me insight into potential showcases or opportunities that would be available to me.
After talking to a few people involved, it became clear that this dream was probably not going to work out with the resources I had at the time. I realised this route was unlikely to lead me to where I wanted to be, and a change in direction for Eustratia might be needed.
So far, I had been trying to create a balance between creativity and wearability, but now the two opposing forces were battling for dominance.
I wasn’t sure if it would be best to focus on creating more elaborate art pieces and try to
create work for myself as an artist (Patreon wasn’t really a thing at the time) or pare it right back and create a basics range.
The latter would be less satisfying creatively but might sell better, and I had a feeling that monetary recognition would go a long way.
I decided to give the creative fetish scene one last chance and design a collection that really encapsulated what Eustratia had become.
This collection had latex-lace, it had intricate appliqué, it had embellishment, studs, hoods, headpieces and a catsuit. The A/W 14/15 collection was my first self-shot collection.
Although I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with many amazing photographers throughout this journey, I felt strongly about wanting to shoot this collection myself.
Principally, I wanted it to be completely my own vision. Up to that point, for the majority of my shoots I had created the concept and the outfits, chosen the location and models and done the styling and art direction.
But then I would hand over the photography to someone else who would then also hold copyright on the images. This had caused some issues with publications and promotional material and I thought it would be convenient to hold the copyright myself.
I did three shoots with four different models and produced some of my favourite Eustratia images to date.
The images and designs were well-received on social media (comparatively, for the time) and I decided it would be worth going to a couple of shows with them. This was also the first time since my first collection that I had created and shot a collection ahead of season, so I had time to plan.
I showed the collection at the 2014 German Fetish Ball in Berlin and the Fashion and Lifestyle Expo in Manchester.
This was a prime example of a collection full of amazing pieces (if I do say so myself), none of which were commercial enough to sell.
I created a few custom sets based on them for other partygoers who were as adventurous as me. But it was never going to generate enough sales to give the brand the boost it needed.
After that, I took some time out to experiment with creating fabric items alongside the latex, and S/S 16 was a product of this.
It had been a long term goal of mine to offer a mixed range (as I’d created for my final collection at university).
I love the look of latex alongside delicate fabrics such as lace and organza (a sentiment that inspired the experimentation leading to the creation of latex-lace). The combination of such fabrics is the key feature of this collection.
It was important to me to bring the soft, delicate feel across in the way this Eustratia collection was captured, so I chose to collaborate with Danniella Jaine, a photographer known for her ethereal and otherworldly depictions of her subjects.
I had previously worked with her on a woodland-themed editorial we called The Origin of Monsters. For this, my four-poster bed was suspended from trees and we posed on it in nude latex nightwear and lace horns. So I knew she would be perfect for the job.
But things were looking uncertain for Eustratia by the time 2016 actually arrived, and I had to make the biggest executive decision of my time as a brand owner.
Either I was going to stop trading at five years, thank everyone for the memories and pack it all in — or the brand had to change drastically.
The thing that stopped me packing it in and getting a regular job was the connection I have to my personal identity as a designer for my own brand.
When people asked what I did, I didn’t want to tell them I worked for someone else and I also didn’t want to waste all the work and experimentation I had already done. I just wasn’t done yet.
I thought about what regular people had commented on about my work, what Eustratia’s best-sellers were and why people liked them. A plan started to form.
I went back to my idea of great latex basics. But they couldn’t just be any basics — they had to be Eustratia basics. In fact they couldn’t be basic at all because that was against the brand ethos.
I wanted to create garments to form the perfect foundation for a latex wardrobe. Items that look so good, you’d want to wear them all the time, but are also versatile enough to form many different looks.
Everyone has a favourite go-to outfit, but it gets old after a few wears. I wanted to eliminate that issue with a wardrobe full of possibility.READ MORE – GO TO PAGE 3 OF 3
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