Judy R. Clark is one of Scotland’s foremost fashion designers. Recently we spoke with her about her passion for her profession.
What are your own roots?
I grew up in a small town in the Highlands of Scotland called Fort William. I then went on to study at Heriot Watt University in The Scottish Borders and qualified with a First-Class Honours degree in Fashion Design for Industry. I later interned for the late Alexander McQueen and on my return to Scotland set up my own label. I was nominated as young designer of the year in Scotland so returned to focus on my new collection.
Where do you currently reside?
The beautiful city of Edinburgh in Scotland. Edinburgh’s Architecture is incredible; I love how the city can be so close to nature with The Pentland Hills only a few miles from the studio.
When and why did you first become interested in fashion?
I have always had a love for the arts and spent most of my time in the art department drawing, making, and creating in Secondary school. I loved to draw life models and in turn fashion illustration and design. Art is something I have loved from a very young age and intrinsic to who I am.
Are they the same reasons that you continue to be involved today?
In essence yes – making and creating is where I have always felt at home. I really enjoy my work and meeting new faces that appear in the studio.
How has your work evolved over the years?
Yes, it certainly has but my core values and fun has always been the foundation of my work.
What are the challenges of the vocation?
I guess working for yourself is always challenging, in a way but also great as you get to be your own boss!
What are the rewards?
Working on photoshoots is one of the paramount moments – when you see your pieces come to life.
What have been some career highlights?
This year celebrates 10 years as an independent fashion label, I am proud of being able to work for myself and see my business become more established over the years. My travels to New York early in my career showcasing my work were some of the best moments. Receiving the award for Scottish Designer of the Year in Glasgow was definitely a highlight. I didn’t really expect to pick up the award, so it was a good night of celebrations. Working with McQueen was a very treasured time and one I will look back on with fond memories. It really was a great opportunity that helped me in so many ways.
What makes your work unique?
My signature tailoring with a hint on British eccentricity; I love to make garments that are one off, romantic meets hedonism with a bold silhouette.
Who are your clients, and how do you reach them?
I have lots of varied clients who I welcome into the studio. Most are after a one-off piece, an heirloom to treasure. Our imagery has been so strong that I believe people fall in love with it a little and want to know more. I also take on commercial projects that usually have a twist, such as making dresses from car parts.
What makes a good piece/item of clothing?
Unique pieces that make you feel confident and empowered.
What are your thoughts on the current state of fashion in Scotland?
Scotland has a very rich and diverse textile industry which I am very proud to use in my work. The bespoke fashion market in Scotland is perhaps more niche but that’s what makes it so special and coveted. There have been quite a few successful Scottish designers who have made it big in the industry. The likes of Christopher Kane and Holly Fulton and Jonathan Saunders, it is great to see their businesses flourish on an international stage.
How can it be improved?
There is a vibrant community of designers in both fashion and textiles in Scotland who have showcased their work through various platforms both internationally and in the UK. Perhaps having the opportunity to work more on a diverse stage internationally would be beneficial to be able to really platform some of the wonderful work coming out of Scotland.
What’s next on your creative agenda?
I am currently working on releasing our ready to wear collection in collaboration with the Isle of Harris Distillery. We launched a limited edition made to measure service in November and will be offering the new collection to international audiences in 2021. The coats are made using the distillery’s’ specially woven Harris Tweed fabric.
Photos by David Stanton / models courtesy of @coloursagency