Five Minutes With Sew SketchyWritten by Yin C
With over 29k followers on Instagram, we caught up with the chicest fashionista all the way from New York to find out more about Sew Sketchy.
Have you met Hong Kong’s chicest fashionista all the way from New York? The name Sew Sketchy will most likely be familiar to you and she’s one of the most exciting names in with fashion enthusiasts. Perhaps you’ve seen her in Harper’s Bazaar or maybe hanging in stores like Harrods in London or Fifth Avenue in New York.
As the sun is just setting off at the Hive, we were pleased to get to know the brainchild behind Sew Sketchy- who prefers to keep her identity out of the limelight. The bubbly fashionista came to Hong Kong in 2015 and 18 months on, she’s fallen in love with the 852. “I love Hong Kong, there is a tiny artistic culture that doesn’t have much of a voice yet, so it’s interesting to see how to grow that here,” she explains. With a quirky style sense of fashion; keep a lookout on this diva!
What brought you to Hong Kong from all the way from New York?
I’m fascinated by the Asian market when it comes to illustration, art, cartoon and fashion. There is an untapped market here and it’s so super hyper focused on this side of the world but it’s not from where I’m from. I really want to try and immerse myself and push the envelope when it comes to fashion.
When I first came from New York City, my whole life was surrounded by fashion. I came here and was so confused that no one was in the creative world and when I was showed around the Hive, I was obsessed and loved the transition. I joined the Hive a month after moving to Hong Kong and it’s become a really full fledged community with really dope people. Everyone is artsy, creative, cool, down to earth and I really feel like this place is a sanctuary for me – we all really co-exist here!
What drove you to this path?
My family comes from a jewelry background so I was always surrounded by glamour. Having grown up in New York City, everyone always looked amazing and that’s what triggered my interest in fashion. My first job was cleaning designer shoes at 15 years old for a stylist company.
Ironically I was bad at school but literally the second I went to Parsons School of Design in New York to study Fashion Design, I got A’s into almost everything. During this time at college, I also designed for Victoria Secret Pink and went on tour with musician M.I.A’s as her stylist’s personal seamstress- that was really fun.
My last ‘real job’ was working as a Head Designer for a dress company. I was working directly with the factory and overseeing the entire process at the age of 23. I felt a little misled and stifled creativity wise so I started Instagram called Sew Sketchy. She is my croaky girl, my muse. You develop this character at Parsons – it’s called your Muse. You’ll see that all designers have their own distinct style of drawing which is their girl.
However, I did not intend for Sew Sketchy to be Insta-famous, I always thought I would be in fashion; not illustration. It’s kinda funny as to how things worked out.
What works for Sew Sketchy?
Throughout my whole career, I’ve been trying to figure out what my one thing was and it clicked with Sew Sketchy. It’s true when people say you need to be consistent, fresh and true to your brand’s DNA. People will come to you for this particular thing.
As a creator, you have to come with one specific thing that really represents you. Be yourself and you’d surprised with the response. I wasn’t trying to be commercial or trendy, I was just putting up a fantasy and translating that onto paper.
People found it fun to see a cartoon fashion girl saying some of the most ridiculous stuff wearing couture. Sew Sketchy has a personality and she is a satire of the typical fashion girl. People in the fashion world are ridiculous really flamboyant. There is a snobby aspect and I quote a lot of these people from conversations that I hear from around the world, that are often ridiculous.
What really gives you that inspiration?
I like to look at everything from runway shows to interviews. I like listening whilst I’m drawing. Mostly I listen to Karl Lagerfeld, Michael Kors, Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington – these major fashion legacies. I would have a fashion heart attack if I ever met any of these people.
People may not think Fashion History is important, but you have to know when the first skirt was made, the first underwear, boxers, how everything is transformed and the progression. I’m constantly researching, it’s 90% of what I do.
Also, looking at couture shows really gives me the wow factor because they’re just so intricate and it’s a dying industry. Everything is so old school and done by hand, so extravagantly gorgeous and hard to replicate.
How long does it take to complete one drawing?
An average Sew Sketchy drawing takes around 45 minutes. A lot of thought and drafting goes into drawings when it comes to work for clients. When I’m on a creative stream, I could draw around 6 in a day.
Can you tell us about some of your favourite collaborators?
My favourite is with Charming Charlie. They were opening their flagship store in New York and asked create artwork for their dressing rooms and their instore inspirational walls. It was really cool to see my art for the first time to not be in my portfolio; it was actually in a store and it was just an amazing payoff.
Another collaboration that I loved was with Lane Crawford. That was my first debut in the Hong Kong fashion scene and I met a lot of cool people. Everyone was dressed to the nines. It was so my vibe and I love everything gorgeous.
Any words of advice for newcomers?
I’ve dealt with the good, the bad and the ugly. If you are going to be in fashion, your skin will eventually develop into something incredibly thick. Let the cuts, the probing and the knifing happen. It’s not an easy business and you really need to stay true to yourself. I wasn’t born with this kind of determination or confidence about my business, it was a learning process and I was super patient to take it all in and learn what really worked for me.
Stay true to yourself and trust your instincts. At the end of the day, people are going to try and take advantage of you. Everyone wants more for less and I don’t work that way. Pay attention to your competition and don’t copy anything. There isn’t enough originality in this business. Say no when appropriate. This industry can really eat you alive and I’ve seen it happen. You just need to stay incredibly patient and stay motivated. Know what fits to you and your brand identity.