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Be inspired every day with Living North
Lousis Rogers
March 2022
Reading time 5 mintues

Having a real eye for colour and a true passion for sustainability, Louisa took a new direction in her fashion career when she saw a gap in the market for fun, vibrant and bold fashion that also didn’t cost the earth to make

She made it her mission to set up Studio Courtenay, a North East-based sustainable fashion and homeware business which gives deadstock materials a new lease of life, as well as showing that sustainability doesn’t have to be boring.
Hannah Layford

How did you get into the sustainable fashion industry?
I’ve always bought things second-hand and used to go to markets at the weekends, and I loved charity shopping and the thrill of finding something interesting hunting through the rails. It eventually got to a point where people were talking more and more about sustainable fashion but I really felt that the industry had an image problem in that it was very minimalist, and if you wanted to dress sustainably, the assumption was that you wanted to wear beige or khaki green. But, I didn’t want that and I couldn’t really find clothing that was sustainable but also in bold colours, interesting designs or vibrant prints and I saw a bit of a gap in the market to create something that had a more playful aesthetic. I actually transitioned from the vintage industry into this because I had been collecting vintage clothes for a long time and I would occasionally find amazing fabrics and buy them even though I couldn’t sew, and had no design experience. I hoarded them because I knew that I would find a way to use them. I eventually made friends with a tailor and we took it from there.

Do your designs come from an idea for a piece or from seeing a fabric?
Good question! I actually think we tend to get the fabric first and then think about it. We’re building up a a bank of designs and don’t want to be bringing out 10 different products every season because again that’s feeding into the idea that you always need something new to stay relevant. We’re really keen to push this trendless idea that you build up a wardrobe that you love and wear in different ways and keep for years and years. So we tend to find the fabrics and look at our catalogue and think ‘what would this look great in?’ If we don’t have something that fits then sometimes that fabric can be a source of inspiration to maybe come up with a new product concept.

Are we on the right track to becoming more sustainable in our fashion choices?
I think there is still more work to be done but I’m really encouraged and feel really positive about the different attitudes that I’m seeing, especially towards second-hand fashion. I think five or 10 years ago people had a very different perception, but now people can see vintage as even more valuable than the stuff you find on the high street. I’ve also seen a lot more engagement with the idea of sustainability from young people, and even if they can’t always buy those vintage pieces because they’re a bit more expensive, they’re still quite keen to spread the message and get the word out.

I couldn’t really find clothing that was sustainable but also in bold colours, interesting designs or vibrant prints and I saw a bit of a gap in the market

What do you love most about the North East?
The people – and Greggs!

Give us your best local recommendation.
My top recommendation would be Side Gallery. It’s tucked away but has the most amazing photography which they rotate frequently.

Hannah Layford Hannah Layford
Hannah Layford Hannah Layford

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